Dusty Baker questions Bronson Arroyo’s health after latest poor start

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Bronson Arroyo allowed five runs in six innings yesterday, giving up at least four runs for the six straight start as manager Dusty Baker wondered publicly whether the veteran right-hander is pitching hurt:

I don’t know. We have to discuss it and find out if indeed there is something wrong. Everybody’s a little banged up. We have to discuss it and hopefully he get a truthful answer from Bronson.

Arroyo had mono during spring training and dealt with a back injury earlier this season, but told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he’s healthy now. “I feel decent, but I’m just not getting it done.” Instead he spoke about how not being able to “lock teams down” and “giving up way too many homers” is “totally frustrating.”

Arroyo’s strikeout and walk rates are basically identical to last season, when he won 17 games with a 3.88 ERA and was given a three-year, $35 million extension at age 34. However, he’s allowed a league-high 30 homers in 127 innings after serving up a total of 29 homers in 216 innings last year and his average fastball velocity is just 86.8 miles per hour compared to 88.0 mph in 2010.

Maybe he’s pitching through some kind of injury or maybe he’s just a 34-year-old fly-ball pitcher who lost a little velocity that he didn’t really have to spare in the first place. Either way, the Reds can’t feel very good about the decision to sign him to an extension that pays $7 million in 2012, $6.5 million in 2013, and $15 million in deferred payments going all the way to 2021.