There's been some blogosphere buzz regarding Johan Santana and his decline in both fastball velocity and strikeouts, and we've previously addressed the subject in a couple of places. Let's update our look at his strikeout decline here.
Santana is coming off back-to-back one-strikeout starts heading into Sunday's start against the Yankees. The problem for him hasn't been getting to two strikes. It's been finishing hitters off.
Johan Santana with 2 Strikes
Opponents in last two starts
The Indians went 4-for-11 with two strikes against Santana, following up on a four-hit effort against him by the Padres. In the last two games, opponents are hitting .400 in two-strike situations against Santana (8-for-20).
In those two games, Santana has thrown 60 two-strike pitches and has not gotten a swing-and miss. He hasn't even gotten one from his money pitch, the changeup (both of his strikeouts came from hitters who took the change for a third strike).
In his last two starts, Santana has thrown 24 two-strike changeups and given up three hits. In his previous six starts, Santana had given up a total of two hits with his two-strike changeup.
We've previously referenced and tinkered with a stat called "putaway rate," which we use to define how frequently a two-strike pitch is turned into a strikeout.
Comparing full-season samples to those from two months is tricky, but in this case we feel it's notable.
His putaway rate since 2008:
•2008: 19.1 percent
•2009: 19.6 percent
•2010: 13.0 percent
That may not look like a large drop on paper, but it is rather prominent, as is that his putaway rate in his last two starts is 3.3 percent.
Mark Simon is a researcher for Baseball Tonight. Follow him on Twitter at @msimonespn or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.