Scott Atchison’s Ankle the Cause of His Pitching Problems?
Yesterday, the Cleveland Indians placed Scott Atchison on the 15-day disabled list with a left ankle injury. The move came a mere 24 hours after Atchison gave up a 2-run home run while working the 9th inning in the Tribe’s blowout win against the Chicago White Sox Thursday afternoon, which put an explanation point on what has been a pretty horrible first two months of the season for the Tribe right-hander. To date 2015 has been a far cry from his 2014 season in which he was arguably a top two reliever in the Tribe bullpen.
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While his K/BB Ratio has been pretty similar and his WHIP hasn’t been terrible, he’s quite simply been a different pitcher in 2015. The question I’m curious about is just how much has this ankle injury of his has played a part in his drop-off? Atchison says he suffered the injury during a conditioning drill about a month ago and he’s been trying to play through the pain.
"“I felt like I could pitch through it, get through it and do things,” Atchison said. “Maybe I tried to be a little protective of it when I’m throwing and things, so we felt like this was a good time maybe to nip it in the bud now, instead of trying to fight through it the rest of the year and causing more problems. It’s unfortunate.”"
While I admire a player wanting to play, it clearly hasn’t done the Cleveland Indians any favors. While the exact date of the injury isn’t known, “a month ago” suggests it happened around the end of April/beginning of May. While splits can often be misleading, I do think it’s worth noting how drastic his April to May numbers have been this season:
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Again, this could mean nothing. His extremely low BAA and WHIP were aided in part due to a very low .217 BABIP in the month of April; whereas in May that number jumped to .296, which is more in line with where one expects it to be. A higher BABIP doesn’t fully explain the extreme variance the Cleveland Indians have seen from Atchison though, which again brings us back to the question of the injury and how much it’s affected him.
At the end of the day we won’t fully know just how big a part the ankle injury played in Atchison’s recent struggles. Perhaps April was simply a mirage and what we saw in May is the real Atchison (he is pushing 40 after all); however, given how well he pitched in 2014 (and from 2011-2014), I think he at least deserves the benefit of the doubt. Hopefully this time off allows the ankle to fully heal and Atchison is able to get back to his old self. One thing’s for certain, the Cleveland Indians could sure use the 2014 version of Atchison and not the May 2015 version.