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Manny Parra’s Horrible Fastball
July 24, 2010- Milwaukee, WI. Miller Park..Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Manny Parra  pitched for 6 solid innings giving up 2 runs off of 4 hits to the Washington Nationals tonight..Milwaukee Brewers won over the Washington Nationals 4-3..Mike McGinnis / CSM.

If you’ve been reading this blog for very long, you know that I’ve been one of Manny Parra‘s biggest supporters.  I’ve been one of the few that has maintained that the Brewers need to keep him in the rotation, to give him one last chance to sink or swim heading into a winter that could see the club make drastic changes to the rotation.

I’ve tried to stay strong on this for as long as I could, and even I’m starting to waver now.

Parra’s start on Sunday against the Rockies looks solid enough on paper — 5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K — but only two of the five runs he gave up were earned, thanks to his own error (one of my biggest pet peeves about baseball: a pitcher doesn’t get charged with an earned run when his own error extends an inning, but a passed ball by the catcher is an earned run).

Other than the error, the thing that stuck out to me about Parra’s start were the two home runs he surrendered.  It was the first time since July 30 that he gave up two homers in a start, and both home runs came on fastballs.

That’s been a problem with Manny.

Despite his above-average velocity, his fastball has been incredibly below average this season…and really, his entire career.  FanGraphs has Parra’s fastball at 16.4 runs below average this year, which is actually and improvement over the -26 runs it was worth last year.  As a matter of fact, his slider, curveball, and changeup are also all below average this year — the only good pitch he’s had all year is his splitter, which comes in at 6.5 runs above average.

Parra’s fastball has been the worst on the team this year, and it’s not even really close.  Randy Wolf‘s is second-worst at -12.9, followed by Chris Narveson at -10.4.  For a comparison, Yovani Gallardo‘s fastball has been the most effective, registering as 10.4 runs above average.  As a matter of fact, Parra’s fastball registers as the fifth-worst in all of baseball.

Parra’s problem, as usual, has been control and movement.  As we saw yesterday, he has a tendency to leave that fastball in the zone when he doesn’t have to, and the problem is compounded by the fact that it has very little movement.  Take those factors, mix in Coors Field and a good Rockies lineup, and you’re not going to get a very good start.

With that said, Parra should probably just stay in the rotation until the end of the season.  It’s possible a September call-up like Amaury Rivas or Jeremy Jeffress could take a couple starts, but it’s not likely.  The Brewers may be better off just letting Parra take the ball and pitch his way out of the Brewers’ plans.  He’s got roughly a month and a half to prove he’s worth keeping.  It’s worth noting he’s arbitration eligible for the first time this winter, and while his potential raise in arbitration probably won’t be much, it’s possible the Brewers could decide that’s $1 million or so better spent elsewhere.