Marco Estrada has been a key contributor to a surprisingly competent Milwaukee Brewers‘ pitching staff in 2014. However, despite his solid pitching, Estrada is still allowing home runs at an alarming rate, a problem that has plagued the Brewers’ starter throughout his career.
On Tuesday night at Miller Park against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Estrada gave up yet another homer, this one to second baseman Neil Walker. While Estrada did get the win, going six innings and allowing just the one run while fanning eight, this problem has gotten much worse in recent weeks. Before the start against the Pirates, Estrada had allowed two homers in each of his previous three outings. His season total now stands at 10 homers allowed in just 49.1 innings.
This trend is not exclusive to the 2014 season, as Estrada has had difficulties keeping the ball in the park for the better part of his career. Estrada joined the Brewers in 2010 and began starting on a regular basis in 2012. During the 2012 season, Estrada allowed 18 homers in 138.1 innings of work, which is quite a few. In 2013 it actually got worse, with Estrada giving up 19 homers in only 128 innings. Unfortunately for Estrada and the Brewers, he is currently on pace to obliterate those numbers in 2014.
While it is obviously frustrating watching Estrada allow all of these long balls, they have not caused as much damage as one would think. Because Estrada keeps his walks and hits allowed to a minimum, the frequent homers have not hurt him significantly. In fact, seven of the 10 homers given up by Estrada in 2014 have been of the solo variety. However, though he was sharp on Tuesday night, Estrada has been running into more trouble than usual in recent starts, causing his ERA to swell somewhat as a result.
Estrada who is 30 years of age obviously possesses quality stuff, as evidenced by his impressive BB/K ratio and low BAA over the past few seasons. His most glaring issue has been this nagging tendency to give up the long ball, something that will inevitably cause more problems for all concerned if it continues. Unfortunately, based on the early returns in 2014, it appears this issue is trending in the wrong direction.