Last year, Jon Garland allowed just 21 hits in the month of April on his way to an 8-0 start. At the time, I was relatively optimistic about him turning the corner as a pitcher even though it was clear that he couldn't keep holding batters to a .200 average on balls in play.
Two starts into the '06 season, Garland has allowed 23 hits in just 10.1 innings, allowing a .438 average on balls in play. Just like last year, it's clear that average will not continue. Garland has averaged around a .275 BABIP on his career, and he'll end up very close to that mark once again this year.
What's wrong with Garland?
The easy answer is he's not hitting his spots. When Garland is having the most success, he's grabbing strikes early in the at-bat. The longer the at-bat, the more the advantage favors the hitters, even moreso for Jon than other pitchers.
Garland's control is just a bit off. It's not that he's been walking batters. (He doesn't give in like the old Garland.) He's just missing the glove. That first pitch strike on the outside corner last year is now ball one. Those broken bats on pitches off the plate inside are now being hammered for doubles as Garland catches too much of the plate.
The arm is there. He's still throwing with his usual velocity, though his changeup wasn't changing as much as he would have liked today. It's just a matter of "making the pitches," as Hawk would say.