Friday, May 02, 2008

Bautista's Injury

Denny Bautista's mop-up appearance started alright. He bailed Aquilino Lopez out of more trouble in the seventh inning, before a two out rally befell him in the eighth inning. Most notably, he left the game with an apparent injury with an 0-2 count. It was hard to tell what was wrong, and as of this posting nothing has been announced. Things had gotten rocky for Bautista of late. He had major control problems Tuesday night against the Yankees, and had started to get roughed up tonight. I thought his velocity was down tonight, and decided to check on his average fastball velocity from select appearances this year. Typically, a drop in velocity can be a warning sign of a potential injury. We'll see if we can spot anything in the pitch f/x data.

March 31: 96.2 mph
April 4: 94.2 mph
April 5: 94.9 mph
April 9: 94.5
April 10: 95.2
April 17: 94.5
April 18: 96.6
April 21: 94.9
April 22: 94.6
April 25: 92.7
April 26: 93.3
April 29: 92.8
May 2: 93.7

The drop hasn't been as significant as I thought, but it is still there. Before April 25, Bautista was averaging in the 94-97 range. Since, he has been averaging below 94 on his fastball velocity during every start. Could this be the result of an injury? Could it be the result of a mechanical flaw that led to the injury? Could it be nothing at all? It's hard to say one way or another. We'll have to wait on the prognosis before jumping to any conclusions. Regardless, this does raise a red flag for a bullpen that may not be able to handle too many more.

Shoulder Soreness is the initial diagnosis. Bautista has had similar problems in the past, missing much of 2005 with shoulder tendinitis. If a disabled list trip is required, some candidates to replace him in the bullpen would likely include Blaine Neal and Casey Fein.

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