What happened to Derek Lowe?

In the offseason of 2009, the Atlanta Braves signed Derek Lowe to a four-year, $60 million dollar contract. Lowe was one of the most accomplished pitchers in baseball. He was the man who broke the curse of the Bambino, he threw the first no-no in Fenway since 1965, and in his four previous years, his ERA never climbed above four.

Since 2005, the only National League pitcher to win more games than Lowe is Roy Oswalt.

That was the old Derek Lowe.

Lowe has not been absolutely terrible for the Braves, but he has definitely not proven to be the pitcher that they invested $60 million dollars in. Last year, his ERA flirted with five points and this year, Lowe has been far from great.

Lowe’s recent struggles have left people wondering if the old Lowe rider has any gas left in the tank.

Baseball is a sport of a million statistics and there may just be a few stats that could explain the sudden free-fall of Derek Lowe’s career.

Lowe’s four years in Los Angeles were the best four years of his baseball career. His average ERA was 3.59 and Lowe was striking out six men per nine innings. He was pitching consistently and winning more games than the majority of pitchers in the NL.

Just about when the Braves thought they were getting one of the best pitchers in baseball, Lowe ran out of luck.

Batting average on balls in play (BABIP) is a statistic measuring the percentage of plate appearances ending with a batted ball in play (excluding HRs) for which the batter is credited with a hit. This sabermetric stat is used to determine if a pitcher’s season is dependent on luck.

While with the Dodgers, Lowe had an average BABIP of .291. This is slightly below the average BABIP of .300, so some could say that while in Hollywood, Lowe was slightly lucky.

When Lowe travelled down south to join the Braves, his fortunate luck did not join him. Lowe’s BABIP skyrocketed to .330 and although this year’s .309 is a slight improvement from 2009, it is still considered above average.

However, even if luck is fighting Lowe every step of the way, the reason for his struggle is quite simpler than that.

Lowe is not the same pitcher that he used to be. The 37-year-old is still a great number three pitcher to have on a starting rotation, but his pitches have lost some of that nasty movement on them and his numbers have suffered because of it.

If indeed the Atlanta Braves do reach the postseason for the first time since 2005, they will be glad to have a guy like Derek Lowe on their team. No matter his struggles, Lowe has proven to be a fantastic postseason pitcher and he is one of the few Braves that can provide October experience to a young Atlanta Braves team.

This article is also featured on Sports Haze.

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