Oakland Athletics starter Trevor Cahill starts against the Edwin Jackson and the Chicago White Sox, in his first start since signing his five year contract extension yesterday. The common refrain after his dominant 2010 season questions about his strikeout rate and general sense of luck surrounding his performance. His peripheries indicated some level of luck and most people seemed to think Cahill would regress in 2011.
Through two starts in 2011, Cahill has actually seen his strikeout rate increase to double what it was last year. He’s made only two starts so we can’t make any definitive judgments, but the folks at Athletics Nation took a look at his early success. They took a look at his PitchFX chart of pitches and came across some interesting information:
First off, he seems to have nearly cut out throwing his normal four-seam fastball, and he’s also completely dropped his slider this year. And what did he replace them with? Yet another curveball tweak. This one seems to be a little less slurvey, more closely resembling a 12-6 curve. It also, amazingly, seems to have picked up about an inch and a half of drop from last year, on average. If that increase in drop is correct, it’s an inch away from Gio Gonzalez and his curveball. He’s throwing it twice as much as he did last year, and the results have been fantastic. Out of 57 thrown so far, 39 have been for strikes.
Cahill starts against a White Sox lineup that had been hitting the ball with great success prior to yesterday. Adam Dunn may or may not be back in the lineup today, but even without him the White Sox are dangerous. Today will be a strong test of Cahill’s early strikeout numbers.