• What's wrong with Scott Diamond?

    Something isn't right with Scott Diamond.

    The man who was supposed to be a calming force in the Twins starting rotation has become a punching bag for opponents. He hasn't won a game since June 20th when he gave up four runs in a little over five innings. A sophomore slump has hit Diamond hard and it's tough to know what the Twins can do about it.

    Since June 9th, Diamond has struggled mightily on mound. In his eight starts since, he has failed to make it into the fifth inning in four of them, including the last three. He's given up 30 earned runs in 40 innings for a robust 6.75 ERA. Overall, opponents are hitting .312/.369/.547 against him and he has given up more than a home run per game in his last eight starts. These numbers are tough to look at but it was easy to predict there would be some struggles.

    There were signs of something wrong at the end of last season. Diamond was terrific in the first half, posting a 7-3 record with a 2.62 ERA with a 1.18 WHIP. There was some talk of Diamond making the All-Star team because of his strong pitching performance. The second half didn't go so smoothly. His record dropped to 5-6 and his ERA expanded to 4.31 while his WHIP went up to 1.30. The end of his rookie season couldn't arrive fast enough.


    One interesting statistic to look at for Diamond is his batting average on balls in play (BABIP). If you aren't familiar with this statistic, here is a brief introduction lesson. BABIP tells us how many hits a pitcher is giving up when the ball is put in play. In this case, "put in play" means the ball stays fair and in the ballpark, rather than the play resulting in a walk, home run, hit by pitch or error.

    Last season, opponents had a .292 BABIP versus Diamond. This ranked twentieth best in the American League. So far this season, Diamond's BABIP has risen to .319, the 43rd best mark in the AL. The only qualified AL pitchers with a worse BABIP are Bud Norris, Corey Kluber, Justin Verlander, and Joe Blanton. Most fans might think it's good for a pitcher to be on the same leaderboard as Verlander but that's not the case here, as more of the balls hit off Diamond are falling for hits.

    Another area where Diamond has struggled has been his ability to limit damage when runners get on base. In 2012, Diamond was able to leave runners on base at a 73.3% mark. This ranked him 16th among AL starting pitchers and ahead of players like CC Sabathia, Yu Darvish, and Matt Moore. So far in 2013, Diamond has the third-worst LOB% in the AL at 67.4. The only pitchers with a worse mark are Jerome Williams and Rick Porcello.

    Let's take a closer look at the last two starts from Diamond and try to find where some of his struggles may have originated. Take a look at the strike zone plot map from Diamond's start on Sunday versus Cleveland. As you can see, there are a lot of pitches in the zone and a lot of balls left up. This looks a lot different compared to his previous start in New York.

    Against the Yankees, Diamond seemed to have a different game plan or he was continuing to struggle with his control. Most of his pitches were well out of the zone and it's hard to believe he got anyone out with this kind of control. He might have been trying to avoid batters hitting it into the short porch at Yankee Stadium but this might also show why he was able to last only 3.1 innings.

    The Twins need to do something with Diamond. A trip to Rochester might be in order to get his head and his control back where they need to be. Fellow Canadian left-hander Andrew Albers also started on Sunday for the Rochester Red Wings. It makes sense to flip-flop these two men for their next few starts. Albers has a 10-4 record on the season and a 2.97 ERA.

    Diamond needs to get fixed and this may be the right time for him to be demoted.
    This article was originally published in blog: What's wrong with Scott Diamond? started by Cody Christie
    Comments 21 Comments
    1. NC-Twins's Avatar
      NC-Twins -
      What's wrong with Diamond? Good question. Perhaps it is his Canadian-ness. Same problem plaguing Morneau? All three Minnesota boys are doing great. OK, OK, I'm just kidding. I stopped making fun of Canadians years ago after their dollar became stronger than ours -- just had a little relapse.
    1. troyhobbs's Avatar
      troyhobbs -
      Why not try Albers at this point?
    1. boylan's Avatar
      boylan -
      Scott Diamond has unilateral arm weakness.

      Seriously. He had just barely started his conditioning program to prepare for spring training when his bone chip problem cropped up. This was reported at the time. He has been behind the curve since winter. Just recently Ryan or Gardy was quoted saying his velocity is down a mile or two this year vs. last year.

      I don't think we'll see him fix this until next year and I think it's the same situation
      as Joe Mauer's bilateral leg weakness season - can condition or play but not both.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      He's a left-handed Nick Blackburn.
    1. BeefMaster's Avatar
      BeefMaster -
      Quote Originally Posted by troyhobbs View Post
      Why not try Albers at this point?
      One minor complication to calling up Albers - he's not on the 40-man roster (which is currently full), so they'd have to waive someone to do it. At this point, though, I don't really see any reason not to run Butera through waivers - Hermann appears to have passed him up on the organizational depth chart, and the fact that Butera's got a guaranteed contract for more than the minimum might dissuade other teams from claiming him anyway.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Quote Originally Posted by boylan View Post
      Scott Diamond has unilateral arm weakness.

      Seriously. He had just barely started his conditioning program to prepare for spring training when his bone chip problem cropped up. This was reported at the time. He has been behind the curve since winter. Just recently Ryan or Gardy was quoted saying his velocity is down a mile or two this year vs. last year.

      I don't think we'll see him fix this until next year and I think it's the same situation
      as Joe Mauer's bilateral leg weakness season - can condition or play but not both.
      I suspect you're right. Its gotta be an elbow thing (but also a regression thing).
    1. boylan's Avatar
      boylan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Willihammer View Post
      I suspect you're right. Its gotta be an elbow thing (but also a regression thing).

      Yes to some regression.

      2011 AAA he averaged about 5 1/3 ip, whip of 1.5+, 11+ H/9 although 6.6 so/9 and that's about what he's doing this year.

      Maybe Albers can go 6+ but I don't see any other help at AAA that would be any better.

      Accept he can only go 5ip this year? Use him as a 5th and pair his starts with a long relief stint?
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Before going to Albers, why not give Swarzak another shot as a starter?

      He started 11 games in 2011.

      63.1 IP, 36K, 13BB, 4.52 ERA, 3.92 FIP

      His FIP as a starter was better than his FIP as a reliever.

      While those number aren't great, the Twins have certainly given other guys longer shots with poorer results. It is also possible that he is a better pitcher now than he was in 2011. The Twins have run a lot of guys through the rotation the last two years, I would put Swarzak in the mix and give a dozen starts. Worst case, he enters 2014 back in his long relief role.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Could it be that he's just not that good? I mean, when you give up more hits than IP AND can't strike out anyone, isn't it possible that eventually that will catch up with you?
    1. SpitefulRabbit617's Avatar
      SpitefulRabbit617 -
      Is Diamond on his last option?
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      His release point has changed. It coincides pretty well with the decline.



      Might be he's changed his delivery to compensate for the elbow. Less over the top.

      Might be he's changed spots on the rubber too.
    1. frightwig's Avatar
      frightwig -
      He doesnt strike anyone out, and his walk rate is up, HR rate is up, LOB% is down, GB% is down.... When a guy has a K/9 at around 4.5 or less, he needs everything else to go just right. For awhile last year, that happened for Diamond--but it never was going to last.
    1. boylan's Avatar
      boylan -
      I'd go for another try with Swarzak starting although you can tell the Twins aren't real hot on that idea. I'm not sure he has the pitches to make it through the batting order 3 times.

      Diamond is no top of the rotation guy but I think he has the stuff to be a 3-4 starter. The possible problems are some regression (he's slipped a little bit this year which happens to most players at some point and they usually come back), arm strength (unilateral arm weakness) due to his training schedule being messed up or loss of mental focus/mental fatigue later in the game.

      I think Diamond has an option left but I'm not sure. Looking back I think the twins and Braves burned options in 2011 and 2012 which would leave him with one. I have not seen him listed on players without options on mlbrumors.com but that's not definitive obviously.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      Swarzie technically throws a changeup but like just about everyone else on the staff he can't really lean on his 3rd pitch to help him get through lineups 3 times or more.
    1. boylan's Avatar
      boylan -
      That's super interesting data on his release point. The vertical change would imply he's not got the same downward trajectory on the ball and would make his stuff more hittable.

      I'm not sure the Twins would know this either. I get the sense they aren't that big into numbers - Gardy definitely isn't. And it's about a 4 inch vertical change which is an average number and won't appear on every pitch.

      So, his arm is little tired and he's not not releasing as high as he was before and it's making him just a little bit more hittable with less downward action.

      Great find on that data.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      I was at the June 9 game here in DC...Dozier booted a ball at 2B that led to a long inning (5th I think) where Diamond faced an extra 4 or 5 batters...it was ruled a hit...but even Gardy said it should have been an error. There were several other fielding miscues behind Diamond requiring him to throw maybe an extra 20 pitches. I believe he hasn't recovered from that. I also agree with some of the commenters above that maybe flipping Diamond and Albers for August would be a good idea. Obviously Diamond has been fighting sophomore slump--I believe he will be fine in the future and a good 3/4 starter.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by boylan View Post
      That's super interesting data on his release point. The vertical change would imply he's not got the same downward trajectory on the ball and would make his stuff more hittable.

      I'm not sure the Twins would know this either. I get the sense they aren't that big into numbers - Gardy definitely isn't. And it's about a 4 inch vertical change which is an average number and won't appear on every pitch.

      So, his arm is little tired and he's not not releasing as high as he was before and it's making him just a little bit more hittable with less downward action.

      Great find on that data.
      This isn't statistical analysis. This is mechanics. The Twins are all about mechanics.
    1. Jack Torse's Avatar
      Jack Torse -
      I think this season is more reflective of the kind pitcher he is than last year. Nothing he throws has snap or late break. He's a lower tier MLB starting pitcher at best.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Scott Diamond doesn't have enough stuff to get guys out at the major league level. He does have good command of the stuff he has. But that only works until the league figures you out. Then you have to make adjustments, and he can't make adjustments with his stuff. So they wait him out. He reminds me of Alan Anderson. Won the ERA title one year. The league started figuring him out the next.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Quote Originally Posted by Boom Boom View Post
      He's a left-handed Nick Blackburn.
      ^ Yup. Always has been. Can be a good piece of a rotation, but not at the top or middle.
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