It was brought to the Red Sox late this season that Manny Delcarmen was experiencing arm fatigue and had to be given a cortisone shot, but after a car crash he was removed from the postseason roster. This “fatigue” was an attempt to explain his 7.27 ERA in his last 29 appearances of 2009, but there is some doubt if this was his only problem. He was never as good last year as he had been in previous seasons.
I looked back through his 2009 season and right from the start he was having trouble as his K/BB was below 2 for the first month or so and then crossed 2.0 for a short time before it fell again. His ERA was sparkling early on though as his BABIP was extremely lucky.
So was he hurt for more than just the last few months of 2009 or is there a larger problem. First up we should look at his velocity charts.There was definitely a fall off during the last few months, but it wasn’t contained to just then. His whole season was considerably less than at any point in 2008 as you can see from the red points. There is a slight dip in 2008, but nothing giving evidence to a potential injury suffered then.
I took a quick look at his release point chart and didn’t find anything concerning in either year as you can see here his 2009 was actually a bit tighter as the red dots in back are 2008.Not much should be concerning there and those couple near the 0 mark are intentional balls and should be ignored. There is a bit of a drop on the inside portion, but it’s not severe so at this point it might just be an effect of different stadiums, but something to keep in mind. Perhaps we can see something when we look at movement.
He actually looks better in 2009 as his movement has gotten tighter and less erratic. Perhaps this was due to the decreased velocity, but other than some extra negative break on his curve ball he looks pretty good. It’s tough to see why his ground ball rate fell though unless there was some trouble with location of the pitches.
He has always had trouble at keeping his walk numbers down, but 2009 he walked over 5 batters every nine innings. Then due to the decreased velocity his strikeouts tumbled. He had a short time when his K/9 reached 8 as his velocity peaked, but then tumbled to below 6. It finally averaged at 6.64 down from a career average of 7.90.
This all had him at his worst with a K.BB of 1.29 and a GB% of 42.5%. That made his FIP 4.62 and he could be much worse if his HR/FB% wasn’t so good at 6.5%. I don’t think it’s possible for Delcarmen to be this bad again without a continuation of this injury, but could he be back to his old self?
I am not an injury expert, but I can see here that what ever was bothering him was not just in the last 2-3 months of last season. Considering this and that Delcarmen is up for his first arbitration year the Red Sox are sure to be cautious with him in 2010. His velocity will be watched closely in spring training and without a return to previous levels could be moved.
I have to think with his value at an all time low right now he will be in the pen come April, but won’t be counted on early. We will keep an eye on his velocity to see where he is and if the shoulder is still a concern.