Sunday, April 30, 2006

Where Are The Ks?

Another bad outing by the Unit yesterday, who got rescued by the Yankee offense's weekly 15-run outburst.

The guy's been a mixed bag this year, with some very good starts and some bad. The thing that I find intriguing, though, is how low his K/9 IP rate has become. While nobody expects the guy to have 12/9 IP like he had in his best years, even in '05 he had a very good 8.42/9 IP average.

But so far this year, Johnson has 25 K in 36 IP, good enough for a 6.19 K/9 IP ratio. If this lasts the whole year, that would by far be his lowest career total. And for a guy like Johnson, whose repetoire is all about fanning batters, that's got to be worrisome. This is not Chien-Ming Wang we're talking about here, a guy who can rely on his sinker to get people out. Johnson is simply not blowing his fastball past hitters anymore. Even in his gem against Baltimore, he had only 5 Ks in 8 IP. Very un-Unitlike.

If Johnson keeps stinking it up, the Yanks better hope Mussina keeps doing well. He's had a great April, and will be finishing off his April later today. His start so far reminds me of his April in '03, when he went 5-0 with a 1.70, and helped the Yankees get off to a great start even though Jeter was injured, as Michael Kay would be quick to note.

But his ERA in other months that season: 3.90 in June, 4.78 in July, 2.76 in August, and 4.45 in September. And people wonder why I call the guy inconsistent, even after his performance so far in '06. But I guess compared to everyone else in the rotation so far, the guy's been the only reliable starter for New York. After Moose, the lowest ERA in the Yanks' rotation is Chacon's 4.56 mark. So if and when Moose gets injured or starts struggling, Yankee fans will have to worry. Or pray for Clemens, or the 2006 version of Aaron Small.

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