“Suddenly your preconceived notions fall apart and their lack of logic is exposed” Jean-Paul Sartre
Andrew Brackman has been a complete, unmitigated disaster this year. All the progress he made in 2010 has seemingly disappeared- the control problems have reemerged, the strikeouts have dropped, the groundballs are down and the homerun rate is up. How bad is it? He’s already walked more people in 52 innings this year than in 140 innings last year. He’s already thrown more wild pitches in 2011 than he did in 2010. While his WHIP edges ever closer towards 2, his BABIP is at a career low .297. It’s bad.
Last night he came out of the bullpen for the first time this year, throwing an inning and a third, giving up two runs, walking two and striking out one. Not good. Two things should be remembered when discussing Brackman though. The first is that although he’s 25, he’s in AAA for the first time and this is just his third professional season. The second is that big guys frequently struggle with their mechanics and maybe that’s the root of the problem right now.
It’s unclear whether Brackman’s move to the bullpen is permanent or not. I’m hedging towards saying it probably should be. The Yankees used a third option on Brackman this spring. His major league contract signed in 2007 allows the Yankees to exercise team options on him through 2013, where he would make 1 million dollars in the majors. We know that even last year, scouts were saying he remained inconsistent and some days looked markedly better than others. With a fastball that sits anywhere from 88-95 depending on when you catch him, he has the makings of a power relief arm. He has a true plus pitch in his curveball and then some other lesser pitches that come and go. Last year, Baseball America noted he had the makings of a very intriguing upper 80s slider.
In the bullpen, would he be able to harness his fastball and curveball effectively? Who knows? Part of me thinks you have to ride out the Brackman as a starter ruse for awhile longer. Maybe the mechanics click, the slider comes around and all of a sudden he has 3 good pitches with the ability to throw strikes. Maybe this is all just related to adjusting to his first stint in AAA. Maybe space robots will abscond with his body and leave in his place an effective cyborg super pitcher. Another part of me thinks the words “starting pitcher” are not in his future and never will be.
What do I know though? I haven’t seen him pitch this year, I’m not an expert of any sort, none of us are. I think we’ll have to wait and see what happens, hope for the best or maybe an alien abduction. One of those.
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