Jesse Crain blew a lead on Monday by giving up a three-run homer to J.J. Hardy. He then picked up the win. All in a day's work for a team hellbent on keeping John Danks' third year of arbitration as reasonable as possible.
Much like Paul Konerko, Crain in his current form is a study in incongruities. He's also showing evidence of overdoing it, and in this case, Ozzie Guillen should definitely scale back his appearances in the short term.
First, we can look at his results to tell that something is wrong:
- 7 IP, 11 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 6 K, 2 HR, 33 percent strand rate.
But that only tells part of the story. Drill down into his pitch data, and here's the bigger issue (numbers updated to include Monday's pitches):
|Before 7/20||After 7/20|
Crain has apparently loss the feel for his slider. There's nothing wrong with the velocity, but it's lacking the kind of life and location that made it much more tempting for hitters prior to this slump. And without his slider, his fastball becomes much more hittable, as Hardy proved with his three-run shot.
When Sergio Santos moved to the closer role and Matt Thornton couldn't be trusted early on, Crain had to assume more stressful innings. He leads the staff in appearances and innings, and the workload is starting to show.
He hasn't admitted that he's wearing down, but he did tell Brett Ballantini that he welcomed the addition of Jason Frasor:
So, is Jesse Crain really gassed?
Funny, I asked him just that before Saturday’s game, and Crain, ever the gamer, said only once this year was he out of gas but called upon to pitch, during his three-straight-game stretch just this week, July 24-26, when Crain threw nine, 31, and 10 pitches over three innings, one earned run, two walks, two Ks and two holds.
"I was kinda tired the third day I threw in a row, after I threw 31 pitches the night before," Crain said. "It’s nice to have them concerned about [my rest]. It’s a long season. We’ve still got two months left and we’re in the thick of things. To have another quality right-handed guy [the recently acquired Jason Frasor] helps."
Now it's up to Guillen to get a better read on Frasor's abilities, because there has been quite an imbalance in use over the past week. In easy to read form...
PITCHES THROWN OVER THE LAST SIX DAYS:
- Crain: 71
- Frasor: 3
And Frasor used all three pitches on a backwards K of Minnesota's Danny Valencia.
Crain's struggles are taking place immediately after regression torpedoes Brian Bruney's renaissance, which is kinda perfect in a certain respect. The Sox girded their loins for this scenario when they made Frasor their only midseason addition, and now it's time for Frasor to show the Sox what he's worth.