This article is part of our Mound Musings series.
For the past couples of weeks we have discussed the ramifications of the increased dependence on bullpens, reasons why many starting pitchers – well, actually relievers too – have struggled to keep the scores down, and we even talked about what the evolution of pitching could mean to fantasy scoring. What a long strange trip it's been, but we're not home yet. In fact we're only halfway through the season, so perhaps we can apply our observations to identify some pitchers poised to have better days ahead.
It's pretty obvious that homeruns, and to a slightly lesser extent, walks are the bane of pitchers today. Even the better arms are serving up long balls at a record pace. We used to call homeruns allowed, "feeding your gopher." Well, folks, there are some seriously fat gophers out there! I won't name names, but several pop gun hitters have already surpassed their highest homerun total for a full season, and pitchers are eligible for shell shock insurance. Case in point, let's consider Justin Verlander. He's an elite starting pitcher, and he seems to be weathering the storm fairly well, but do you realize that 74 percent of the runs he has allowed this year have come via the homerun? That's incredible.
I'm fairly certain, with a generously juiced baseball, a postage stamp strikezone and hitters coming out of their shoes on every swing, ridiculous homerun totals (my apologies to the long ball fans) are here to stay for the foreseeable future.