We're adults here, and understand that pitcher wins and losses are nothing more than a weak attempt to satisfy our insatiable desire to count things.
Still, while John Danks' 0-8 start was certainly influenced by a lack of support that might send a much younger man into a spiral of vandalism arrests and Papa Roach CDs, it didn't help that he was throwing his worst ball since 2007--a year that most took the "Who cares if he stinks? He's learning" approach with Johnny.
Even after rebounding in his last two starts, Danks still has the lowest
strikeout rate of his career at 5.91 K/9. Lacking dynamite control,
and playing in a bandbox, this is not a good development for someone who
normally has a groundball rate in the low 40s. As such, Danks has an
ERA over 4.50, and a FIP reminiscent of his 2009 year, in a depressed
run environment no less.
A quick look at Danks' pitch values
is pretty horrifying. His change is his only above-average offering,
and even it's down. Johnny's curveball has always been show-me pitch
that he can just as soon stop showing, and while his fastball getting
tagged is certainly worrisome, it's not unprecedented.
What's been galling this season is the loss of Danks' cutter, the pitch
he introduced in 2008 and not so coincidentally aligned with John's
emergence as a good pitcher. In 2011, it's at .89 runs below average
per hundred times thrown (that's really bad), and Danks cited his lack of feel for it as a primary reason for his poor start in Toronto (the time he gave up 500 runs and yelled at Jose Bautista).
In Danks' last two starts, he's transcended his still god-awful run
support for wins by posting a 1.20 ERA in 15 innings, but what's just as
notable and most encouraging, is that's he's had an effective cutter both times.
He punished Seattle with it by throwing 21 of 29 for strikes (2
swinging), which gave him the confidence to use it 40 times on Saturday
versus Oakland, although less effectively (25 strikes, 1 swinging).
Danks only struck out 6 batters per 9 innings in these past two games,
and him rallying to win 15 games is about as likely as him posting a
1.20 ERA for the rest of the season, but at least if he's operating with
his two primary tools again, we can get back to blaming John's loss
total on a more preferable target: Juan Pierre.
Yes, I'm back from vacation. Let's not be awkward about it.