Scott Diamond was a revelation in an otherwise dismal Minnesota Twins starting rotation in 2012, as he went 12-9 with a 3.54 ERA over 27 starts (173 innings). He did not make his 2013 debut until April 13 due to offseason surgery to remove a bone chip from his elbow, but Diamond was solid over his first five starts, with a 3.03 ERA and a 15:3 K/BB ratio while going at least six innings four times.
But Diamond continued his recent struggles with a dismal outing against the Cleveland Indians on Sunday, allowing six runs (five earned) on seven hits over 4.2 innings. Over his last 13 starts, he now has a 6.65 ERA and has failed to finish six innings 11 times over that span. Talk of a demotion to Triple-A will surely be turned up a notch now, but can Diamond turn things around soon? Let’s take a closer look and try to determine his chances to do so.
Even through his success last season, Diamond was not someone who struck out a lot of hitters (4.7 K/9), but he made up for that with phenomenal control (1.6 BB/9). Both numbers have dropped off so far this year (4.0 K/9, 2.5 BB/9), which explains his struggles to some degree, but a closer look at his other peripheral numbers adds clarity.
Diamond induced a lot of ground balls in 2012, over 53 percent, and that percentage has dropped to just over 46 percent thus far this year. As could be expected, he is also allowing more fly balls (32.7 percent) than he did last season (25.6 percent) and his luck has declined some (.319 BABIP this year, .292 in 2012). For a pitcher who already had a low margin for error, any negative fluctuation in his peripherals has a chance to produce the results Diamond has had over the last two months. Allowing more (and harder) contact, along with a slight reduction in fortune, makes a look at his more traditional statistics unnecessary to determine that Diamond has struggled.
It’s worth wondering if Diamond is still not fully healthy coming off his elbow surgery, or if another injury can be cited as a cause of his struggles, and the way the Twins generally approach injuries we are unlikely to find out anytime soon. He is currently still scheduled to make his next start Friday night against the Seattle Mariners on the road, but it would not be surprising to see that change as the week goes on.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.