Everybody has been waiting for Jeremy Bonderman’s “arrival” for the last few years. Early in the season Bonderman vacillated between really good, and well, not very good. For a spell in late April and early May he was arguably the worst pitcher in the Tigers rotation. But with the arrival of the month of June, he hasn’t only been the best pitcher on the league’s best staff, he was amongst the best in baseball.
Bonderman made 5 starts during the month against a mix of opponents. He faced the 2nd, 4th, 13th, 17th, and 28th ranked offenses (based on runs) in the Red Sox, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Brewers, and Devil Rays. Against some pretty good offenses he posted the following numbers:
IP – 35 2/3
Runs – 7
ERA – 1.77
K/9 – 11.10
BB/9 – 2.52
He only allowed one home run during the month, and that was a solo shot to Prince Fielder.
In terms of how Bonderman’s numbers rank against the rest of the league last month, he fanned 44 which tied him with Johan Santana. Santana actually made 6 starts, so in terms of K’s per inning, Bonderman led all pitchers who had 20 or more innings pitched. His HR/9 of .25 places him 3rd overall. The ERA was good enough for 4th best.
So what has changed?
The change may actually be the change-up. Back in late May, Kenny Rogers and Bonderman were throwing in the outfield when Rogers showed Jeremy a new way to grip his change-up. Now I’m not really sure how often Bonderman has used his new change, so I don’t really know how much it may have contributed to his success.
Coincidentally on June 1st, Bonderman experienced a life change as well. He became a father when his wife gave birth to Mailee Blaize Bonderman. Maybe fatherhood has helped Bonderman’s performance.
Or maybe now that Jeremy Bonderman is mid-way through his 4th season it is just his time. His PECOTA projection for the season was a 3.87 ERA and 1.21 WHIP which is pretty close to his 3.65 and 1.16 marks.
Whatever the cause, Bonderman has seen significant improvements in almost every facet of his game in 2006, and those improvements were most dramatically demonstrated over the course of the last month. And at least for one month he has shown that he is as good as any pitcher in the Major League. (okay, almost any pitcher, Santana was still better).