Q. What happened to Washburn's pitching in Detroit last year?
A. Absolutely nothing. Check this article.
Nick Steiner takes an electron microscope to Washburn's pitches in two 5-start samples:
SAMPLE A - 5 best starts of 2009 in Seattle (0.47 runs per game)
SAMPLE B - 5 worst starts of 2009 in Detroit (10.2 runs per game).
Q. I don't feel like plowing through the HBT article. How much was Washburn's velocity down in his bad starts?
A. Not an inch.
Q. How much was Washburn's location off, in his bad starts?
A. Not an inch. His location was no worse in his bad starts. It may have been better.
Q. How much was Washburn's movement off, in his bad starts?
A. The spin and deflection of his pitches was exactly the same in his bad starts.
Q. How much was Washburn's pitch selection off, in his bad starts?
A. There was no discernible difference in his pitch selection at all, that Steiner could find.
Q. How much more was he behind in the count?
A. You got me there! There was a subtle difference of 0.40 in run expectancy based on how often Washburn was behind in the count.
That's like saying that a 4.00 ERA pitcher threw like a 3.80 pitcher at his very best, and 4.20 at his very worst. Do you think that is an incrimination of Jarrod Washburn, or a justification? Right.
It is simply amazing, AMAZING to me how well, er, how consistently Washburn throws in every single one of his starts, even and especially the ones where he gets hit. It's like watching an NBA shooting guard running through his offday free throw practice. Jarrod Washburn's consistency is incredible.
Q. So why did he get hit in Detroit?
A. There were reasons -- shorter fences, lesser fielders, luck, whatever --- but they had nothing to do with Washburn at all.
Q. Is Washburn unusual this way?
A. The other guy that Steiner looked at was AJ Burnett. Steiner found even less difference between Burnett's best games and worse.
Q. Do you buy that?
A. Have been selling it for years. The press sees Erik Bedard lose and goes up and asks him a bunch of questions, what did you learn, how can you pitch next time so you don't give up two homers. Bedard stares off into the distance and tries to keep his sanity.
As a rule, pro athletes are pretty much aware that they do the same thing every night, and that it's the bounce of the ball that means glory or shame.
But imagine if Bedard tried to explain that to the press? "I threw the same way I threw in my shutout, except that this time they scored five runs." :- ) Every time I've heard an athlete try that, the press immediately goes into its Ace Ventura LLLL-oooo--sss--a---heeerrrrrrr mode. Gotta take accountability, right?
Q. Where does that leave Jarrod Washburn?
A. The same place he's always been: an average-solid "55" pitcher. Average not in the sense of "mediocre and lame," but average in the sense of "professional and reliable."