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Split Decision On Andy Sonnanstine's Future in Rays Rotation

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Andy Sonnnastine does not like road games. I've never spoken to Sonnanstine personally, but after checking his home vs. road splits this morning, I would think Sonny would dislike pitching in parks other than Tropicana Field. Here are the raw numbers on Sonny, home vs. away.

Home

Stat

Road

5

GS

9

4

W

1

0

L

7

4.15

ERA

8.22

That is pretty extreme. Sonny is a perfect 4-0 with a nice 4.15 ERA at the Trop. However, when he pitches on the road he's just 1-7 with a bloated 8.22 ERA. The weird thing is Sonny hasn't pitched much differently on the road than at home.

Here are his defensive independent splits.

Home

Stat

Road

4.49

K/9

5.48

2.09

BB/9

2.73

1.79

HR/9

1.76

5.89

FIP

5.43

As strange as it may be, Sonnanstine has actual been a better pitcher on the road. The home runs per nine, while both terrible, are about equal. Sonny walks over a half batter more per nine on the road, but also strikes out a full batter per nine more. The difference has been the all important "hittability."

Sonny has been lit up on the road. His H/9 at home is 9.26. This is a full hit lower than his career H/9 of 10.6 at the Trop. For his career he has given up slightly less hits per nine on the road at 10.1. However, this not the case in 2009 as his H/9 on the road has jumped to almost 13 at 12.91.

This may or may not help Sonny's case to stay in the rotation, and Sonny detractors may be quick to dismiss this claim, but Sonny has had bad luck on the road. His road BABIP is .358 while his home BABIP is .105 points less at .253. He's been terribly unlucky on the road, but also very lucky at home. This is why the ERA splits are so extreme. At home opponents are hitting .258/.299/.475 against him. On the road they turn into David Wright, hitting .337/.384/.556.

I'm not trying to make excuses for Sonnanstine because using any metric you want, he's been below average. He has allowed nearly as many home runs in 2009 (15) in just 76.1 innings than he did in 2007 (18) or 2008 (21). Sonny's ability to command the strikezone has been his saving grace in the majors. However, he doesn't have that command in 2009. Sure, he still has control. I mean he is still throwing 65% of his pitches for strikes, but he's getting less swings and misses and less first pitch strikes. On pitches thrown out of the zone, hitters are making contact 67% of the time. That's nearly seven percent over his career average.

Unfortunately, while Sonnanstine's problems seem easily correctable, he may not have much time to correct them at least in the Rays rotation. With Scott Kazmir coming back, and David Price coming off a fantastic start, it looks from the outside looking in that Sonnanstine, who has minor league options, is the odd man out. Jeff NIemann hasn't been lights out, but we all know he has no options. Sonny will have at least one more start to prove himself, but the options situation isn't on his side.

Like it or not, Andy Sonnanstine could be gone till September.