I’m a big Adam Carolla fan and he often talks about how people who’re drunk or high inevitably claim to not be drunk or high when questioned about their bad behavior. His point is that they might as well admit to being under the influence of something, because otherwise that just means they have no excuse for acting like an idiot while totally sober.
I bring this up because after being stripped of closing duties Chad Qualls said yesterday that his massive struggles this season are not due to coming back from the ugly knee injury he suffered late last season or a new injury. So, like a drunk person insisting that their idiotic behavior came while completely sober, Qualls is saying his 8.46 ERA and .379 opponents’ batting average are simply the result of horrendous pitching.
I’ve never had to go through any kind of stint this long in my entire career. For the most part it’s been fairly easy for me to go out there and get the job done and all of a sudden I have to go over these hurdles. Sometimes the ball runs on me when I get the ball up in the zone, and that’s a reason a lot of guys are getting hits and getting the ball in the air. I just have to go back to getting my ground balls. It’s been a frustrating year. I know I’m better than this. It’ll turn up for me. I know it will. I’ve shown it in my past that I’m too good a pitcher for this to go on.
Taking a deeper look at some of his numbers, Qualls is indeed inducing about eight percent fewer ground balls than usual this season. His fastball velocity hasn’t declined from previous years, but he’s serving up line drives on a career-high 22.3 percent of his balls in play, which is a big part of the reason why his batting average on balls in play is an absolutely ridiculous .474. To put that in some context, his career mark is .305.
Those shockingly bad ball-in-play numbers aren’t even close to sustainable whether Qualls is healthy, injured, or has decided to pitch left-handed without anyone noticing. His season totals are going to be hideous, because you can’t wipe away giving up 26 runs in 22.1 innings, but assuming he’s truly not hurt Qualls is probably a lot closer to giving the Diamondbacks some non-disastrous innings as a middle reliever or setup man than most people think.