Dan Haren is a notorious source of fantasy frustration as he never seems capable of putting it all together for a full season. I am not talking about one or two poor starts either. In 2010 he posted a May ERA of 6.08. In 2009 he finished the year off with a pair of months with an ERA north of 4.75. In fact, 2011 may have been his most consistent year with only two months above 4.00 (he worst being 4.45).
So, when we look at his overall 2012 numbers no one would really bat an eye. His owners have become accustomed to a few stinkers after all. However we are now three months into the season and his monthly ERAs are:
- April – 3.34
- May – 3.66
- June – 7.16
The first two months were not awful. They weren’t spectacular, either, but I don’t think anyone was truly complaining. The strikeouts were there, as was the control, so there really wasn’t a true negative.
Obviously, June has been a much different story. Is it time to press the panic button? Absolutely not!
The biggest concern is the fact that his strikeouts are down, with a 6.18 K/9 (he was over 8.0 each of the first two months). Outside of that number, everything else points to a potentially significant improvement.
1. His control has still been solid. Yes, it is up from the first two months but would anyone really complain about a 2.93 BB/9?
2. He is posting his best line drive rate yet. After opponents ripped the ball to the tune of a line drive rate over 20% each of the first two months, Haren actually has the number down to 17.2% in June. That’s hardly an unbelievable mark and definitely gives hope, especially when coupled with #3 on this list…
3. He has been extremely unlucky in June. With a decrease in line drive rate you would expect a decreased BABIP. Yet, Haren’s .347 is his worst of the season.
His overall velocity is down this season, with a fastball averaging 88.7 mph (he was at 90 a year ago). That would help to explain his diminished strikeout rate and is definitely something we will have to keep a close eye on. If the strikeouts don’t recover, while his numbers aren’t going to be as bad as his June line, he’s not going to be the ace we expected.
Outside of that, I wouldn’t have any concerns. A lot of his recent struggles are attributed to poor luck and nothing more. He has a long track record of posting stinkers like this so, assuming he is healthy, he’s not a pitcher I would avoid. While we would all like to see him increase his strikeout rate to at least a 7.00 clip, he should still be significantly better than he’s recently shown.