Welcome to the new juiced ball era, where Jason Smith hits like Jason Giambi, Chris Shelton is on pace for 116 home runs (a career-high) and pitchers tremble at the sight of ... Bronson Arroyo?
In case you haven't been keeping up, offense is back in the big leagues and pitching is so, like, 2005. Major league hitters batted .270 last week, the highest average for the opening week of the season since the expansion era began in 1961, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Balls are flying out of the park, and pitchers - good pitchers - are taking the brunt of the beatings. Childs had a column on this early season trend and its ramifications earlier this week.
To follow up on what he wrote, I've listed 12 pitchers who have been hit hard thus far, some who should recover and some who may not.
- Jake Peavy, Padres (1-1, 7.36 ERA): Uncharacteristically ugly numbers are the result of one poor start against the Rockies, who can't be stopped right now. I have heard, however, that they can be tapped.
- Johan Santana, Twins (0-2, 5.73): Hasn't been his usual dominant self, but he's just getting warmed up for another run at the Cy Young. Kick back and enjoy.
- Andy Pettitte, Astros (1-1, 8.18): Got a late start in spring training because of offseason elbow surgery, and it's costing him early. He'll come around. Could be a good bargain trade target.
- John Patterson, Nationals (0-0, 6.30): Bothered by forearm soreness his last time out, but he's actually been pretty sharp. Just have to wonder where wins will come from with the Nationals playing so poorly.
- John Lackey, Angels (1-1, 5.73): A traditionally slow starter who has a 6.89 ERA in April for his career. His last outing was encouraging.
- Dan Haren, Athletics (0-1, 8.25): He's been done in by one bad inning in each of his two starts, but a 12-1 K/BB ratio indicates he's throwing well.
A little worried
- Roy Halladay, Blue Jays (1-1, 4.20): He's pitched well, but it's not clear when he'll pitch again. Halladay will miss at least one start with what's being called a right forearm strain. Stay tuned.
- Bartolo Colon, Angels (0-1, 12.86): Among pitchers that have made two starts, only Tampa Bay's Seth McClung has a higher ERA. His latest ailment, a groin injury, is cause for concern.
- Tim Hudson, Braves (0-1, 12.38): More reputation than results at this point, and declining strikeout numbers are an ominous sign. He's not an ace any more.
- Zach Duke, Pirates (0-1, 6.55): Dazzled last season, but an uneven spring has spilled over into the regular season. Doesn't throw hard enough to get hitters out consistently.
- Kevin Millwood, Rangers (0-2, 7.36): Pitched over his head last season; now he's coming back to earth in a hitter's park. My guess is he finishes with an ERA close to 5.00.
- Oliver Perez, Pirates (0-1, 6.23): Nine Ks in his first start were encouraging, but his velocity is down and his command is spotty. He's too unpredictable to be counted on.