by Daniel Gettinger
I have no idea what has gotten into Kevin Correia. Over his past 5 starts, Correia has a 2.43 ERA in 33 and 2/3 innings. He has struck out 29 batters, while only allowing 3 walks and 3 homeruns. What is so baffling is there was no indication this was coming.
Over Correia’s first 10 starts this season, he pitched like a fifth starter, striking out 41 batters and walking 25 in 52.5 innings. He also gave up 7 homeruns. There was no upward trend in his performance either. Correia was consistently mediocre, only providing two “quality starts” prior to June 6th.
Of course, what we want to know is whether we can expect Correia to continue his success. Unfortunately, even after scanning the pitch f/x data, and analyzing his starts on a game by game basis, I cannot answer that question.
Correia’s average fastball speed has been trending up throughout the year, but his top speed has remained pretty constant. It is possible this is due to an increased ability to hold his velocity later into the game. Definitely a plus, but probably not the reason he is pitching so much better.
Correia’s success over the past five games is not due to an increase in strikeouts, but rather a decrease in his walk rate. In his first 10 starts, Correia walked 4.29 batters per 9 innings, but has lowered that mark to 0.8 BB/9 in his last 5 starts. Better stamina does not really explain his new found pinpoint control.
The thing is, I don’t know what does explain his great control in recent starts. My hunch is that Correia has just strung together a couple of good games, and will regress towards his typical performance level. Correia has been around long enough that it would be odd for something to suddenly click, and his walk rate to plummet. But it is possible.
Perhaps Correia has been working with Darren Balsley, and made a mechanical adjustment. Or maybe Correia woke up one morning and said to himself: “Kevin, it’s time that you trusted your stuff,” and made a conscious decision to go right after hitters. These are things the numbers cannot answer. We just have to hope Correia did make some type of fundamental adjustment. If so, a rotation led by him and Chad Gaudin might be a lot better than expected.