However, Graveman has suddenly started to turn things around.
Might he be at the beginning of a breakout second half of 2016? Based on his most recent performances, it appears that a breakout for Graveman may already be in the works.
In his first ten starts, Graveman recorded just two wins, two no-decisions and six losses. His last loss, however, came on May 19 at home against the New York Yankees.
He’s still had starts in which he has struggled since his last loss, but the quality of his starts and his numbers in the win column have improved dramatically.
Graveman won his final start in May, beating the Minnesota Twins. It seems to have started him on a bit of a hot streak.
Including that final start in the month of May, Graveman has started nine more games for a total of 18 on the year. He’s gotten six wins to match the six losses he already had and six out of the nine qualify as quality starts.
In his three starts so far in the month of July, Graveman has pitched into the seventh inning, the ninth inning and the eighth inning, allowing a total of just five runs across those three starts.
He’s slowly but surely beginning to look like the Kendall Graveman that pitched brilliantly for Oakland last season in June and July before succumbing to an oblique injury. With the A’s playing so poorly at the time, the team shut him down for the remainder of the 2015 season.
Graveman pitching deeper into games is not only good for him, but good for the taxed and tired A’s bullpen, which has pitched more innings than any other this season.
Most importantly, however, is that Graveman seems to have found his command of the ball again. He’s been able to locate his pitches, especially his sinker, keeping them down to induce ground ball outs. Over 50 percent of Graveman’s batted balls this season have been ground outs, according to Fangraphs.
Early on in the season, Graveman was leaving his pitches up in the zone and hitters were taking him deep quite often — so often, in fact, that his home run-to-fly ball ratio is still about as high as it gets at 13.3 percent.
He’s been going deeper into ballgames, inducing more ground balls and allowing fewer home runs over the last two months. Graveman appears to have found his command of the ball. He has brought his ERA down from a season-high 5.84 to 4.25, posting a 2.65 ERA in his last seven starts. There is still plenty of time left for him to bring it down even more. He has potential, but he’s got to put all the pieces together at the same time.
Graveman could indeed be poised to really break out in the season’s second half, which is something the Athletics would be very happy to see. He starts next on Saturday, and the A’s are hoping he can keep his hot streak going.
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