Until the Yankees rolled into Oakland, Darrell Rasner had been dealing. In six starts covering 38.1 innings, the righty had allowed 36 hits and five walks while striking out 23 and pitching to a 2.38 ERA.
The wheels, however, came off in a big way last night. Rasner lasted just 3.2 innings, giving up seven runs, six earned, on nine hits. He walked one while striking out four, and his ERA jumped over a run to 3.64. The A’s basically went to town on Rasner.
Now, there are two ways to look at last night. One is to say that Rasner was bound to have a bad start. Following that outing, his 2008 totals aren’t that far off from his career line. But the way he reached that regression I find to be interesting.
Prior to last night, Rasner had thrown 386 out of 585 pitches — or 66 percent — for strikes. Of those, 63 percent were strikes with contact either on foul balls or balls put into play; nine percent were swinging strikes; and the remainder — 28 percent — were called strikes.
Last night, Rasner’s strike totals were actually in line with his season totals. While he threw just 62.4 percent of his pitches for strikes, 45 percent of those were called strikes while about 7.5 percent were swinging strikes. The contact strikes and balls in play made up the rest of those numbers.
So what do we learn here? Rasner got into trouble last night because he could not locate his pitches. During the endless third inning in which the A’s hit everything Rasner had to offer, his pitches, usually on the corner, were straying to the middle of the plate. I think the higher percentage of called strikes attests to that. Rasner couldn’t push the pitches far enough to the corners, and the A’s were hitting solid line drives off the righty.
With Ian Kennedy on the mend and the Yanks much higher on Kennedy than they are on Rasner, it will be interesting to see how Rasner adjusts over the next few weeks. If the Yanks opt to stick with a five-man rotation, he’ll draw the weak-hitting Padres on Tuesday and the Reds on Sunday. Beyond that, we’ll have a better idea of Rasner’s stuff and ability.