Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 7/5/12
Arizona-diamondbacks-louis

We’ve seen Dan Haren‘s results this season, and we’ve been wondering what’s going on. His walks are up. He’s giving up more hits. And his FIP is the highest of his career. Granted, his poor first half hasn’t been as alarming as, say, Tim Lincecum‘s, but Haren’s been off his game for the first three months of the season.

After Tuesday’s latest disappointing outing, in which he lasted only 4.1 innings, giving up nine hits and six earned runs, Haren revealed that he’s been dealing with a lingering back issue. According to the Orange County Register, “Haren said this year’s problem began when he ‘tweaked’ his back during his final spring training start and has never really gone away.”  [Haren's last spring training start was on April 2 against the Dodgers. It was a relief to learn that Haren's back injury arose after the FanGraphs staff saw him at the In-N-Out in Tempe, Arizona on March 11. We were starting to feel a bit responsible.]

Haren will have his back examined by doctors today, now that the Angels have returned from a long road trip. He is scheduled to start on Sunday, but that is very much up in the air. A trip to the disabled list is possible, and would be a first for Haren in his career. He’s pitched more than 215 innings every season dating to 2005, his first full season with the A’s.

An ailing back might explain the noticeable drop in Haren’s velocity. He has four principal pitches: four-seam fastball, split-finger fastball, cutter, and curve ball. According to PITCHf/x, the average speed on his four main pitches is down compared to last season. Haren’s velocity is also down when compared to the average speeds for the same four pitches by American League starters this season.

Haren 2011 Velocity Haren 2012 Velocity Average AL Starter 2012 Velocity Four-seam 89.8 88.8 91.5 Split-finger 85.5 84.0 84.9 Cutter 85.3 84.6 88.1 Curveball 78.4 76.3 77.4

Okay, so velocity is down. What does that mean?

We don’t know precisely what it means, but the drop in velocity appears to have been made Haren more hittable this season. While his first-pitch-strike rate (65.3) is higher than it was last season (64.6) and higher than his career average (62.4), his swinging-strike rate (9.3) is at the lowest point since 2006 (9.2) and below his career average (9.7).

Indeed, batters are swinging less frequently at Haren’s pitches, particularly those outside the strike zone. His swing rate has dropped from 48.8 to 46.3 last year to this, with the biggest drop coming in swings on pitches outside the strike. His O-Swing rate is down considerably, from 36.2 to 32.3. Not surprisingly, then, Haren’s walk rate has climbed 1.25/9 last season to 2.08/9 this year. On the other hand, when batters are swinging at Haren’s pitches outside the zone, they are making contact at a greater rate (68.0) than at any time in his career.

The results?

Batters are hitting .288 off Haren, the highest of his career. Granted, his BABIP is also at a career high at .329 suggesting some bad luck or defensive inefficiency. Indeed, Haren’s giving up infield hits and bunts for hits at a greater rate than at any time in his career. He’s also, however, yielding more line drives than in any season since his rookie year of 2003. Haren’s also been the victim of the long ball. His fly ball rate (39.6) is up from last year (37.9) and more of those fly balls are leaving the yard. His 12.4 HR/FB is his highest since 2006.

We’re likely to hear news later today or tomorrow on what, exactly, is wrong with Haren’s back and whether he’ll need time on the disabled list. If so, the Angels will be hard pressed to find a replacement starter for Sunday, with Jerome Williams still on the DL with respiratory issues. Indeed, if Haren is out for a while after the All-Star break, the Angels’ rotation depth will be challenged. But better to get Haren fixed and back on track because his reduced velocity has made him more hittable — and less effective — in 2012.


GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Rex Ryan jabs Jets for passing on Martavis Bryant?

Jay Gruden backing down from support of RG3 as starter

Ukwuachu rape victim hires firm that prosecuted Winston

Leo Santa Cruz tops Abner Mares in slugfest

WATCH: Beckham makes great grab over Revis

SEC commissioner wrote classy note to injured Arkansas RB

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

John Daly taken to hospital after collapsing on course

Rex Ryan keeping Bills' starting quarterback a secret

Braves fan dies after falling from upper deck

Randall Cobb suffers shoulder injury vs. Eagles

WATCH: John Harbaugh, Jay Gruden get into shouting match

WATCH: Brian Hartline drags toes on great TD catch

WATCH: Rams cheerleader surprised by military husband

WATCH: John Harbaugh berates sideline reporter at halftime

WATCH: Ricardo Mayorga taunts Shane Mosley in ring, loses

Will Jimmer Fredette find success with Spurs?

Every NBA division's most interesting rookie for 2015-16

American Pharoah upset at Travers Stakes

Steve Smith joins family in stands after getting ejected from game

WATCH: Cordarrelle Patterson rips off 107-yard return TD

Steve Sarkisian giving up most of USC's playcalling duties

Animal shelter cancels fundraiser at Heinz Field

Mets acquire RP Addison Reed from Diamondbacks

WATCH: James Rodriguez scores unreal goals

Vin Scully: I believe next year will be my last

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Every NBA division's most interesting rookie for 2015-16

Fantasy football round-by-round draft strategy

Ronda Rousey's Carl’s Jr. ad

The WWE Divas Revolution is getting ugly

The NFL’s season kickoff isn’t going as planned, but plans don’t matter in the NFL

The Opening Drive: What happened to all the great Michigan tailbacks?

The 1980s Lakers represent the NBA’s ultimate creation story

The Orioles’ frustrating season

Five greatest NBA players of all-time

Finding signs of life for the Red Sox

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker