Detroit — Alfredo Simon had been the Tigers most consistent pitcher — until his last two starts.
In those last two, he's given up 14 hits and 12 runs, with opponents hitting .341 against him with a 1.100 OPS.
"I think everything is good," said Simon, who will get the ball Wednesday night against the Pirates. "I am not going to have a great game every time I go out. Baseball is like that. Sometimes it's going to be good for you and sometimes it's going to be bad for you."
He has had some bad luck. In his last start, Rajai Davis took circuitous routes on a couple of fly balls to center field that ultimately led to four runs. But he's also given up three home runs in his last nine innings of work.
He had allowed just five homers in his previous 12 starts.
What's betrayed him, more than anything, has been his money pitch — the split-fingered fastball. Opponents this month are hitting the split more than 100 points (.278) higher than they were in April and May (.171).
"I think I am throwing it too hard right now," Simon said. "It's been 88-89 mph, that's too much like a fastball, it doesn't break. I have to throw it slower. I looked at the video and that's why it's been more susceptible. At 88-89, there's no break. It's too hard."
When Simon's split is most effective, he's throwing it 82 to 84 mph.
"It's the grip," Simon said. "When I throw it, I have to hold it a little more, a little harder."
Pitching coach Jeff Jones said there was more to fixing it than that.
"It's a grip thing, but it's also an arm speed thing," Jones said. "We talked about it. His body has been getting out in front of him a little bit. He's rushing. There have been times, not just these last couple of starts, but at various times throughout the season where he starts trying to throw it too hard."
Simon had the split, and everything else in his repertoire, working when he faced the Pirates back in April. He shut them out on two hits over eight innings.
Pirates at Tigers
First pitch: 7:08 p.m. Wednesday, Comerica Park, Detroit
TV/radio: FSD, 97.1/1270.
RHP A.J. Burnett (6-3, 2.01), Pirates: And to think he was going to retire. Burnett has allowed one earned run or less in three of his last four starts. The Tigers beat him in April, but they only scored one run off him in 62/3 innings. In his recent starts he's thrown mostly sinkers and curves, mixing a four-seam fastball on just 8 percent of his pitches. The sinker hasn't been quite as sharp lately (.324 average against).
RHP Alfredo Simon (7-4, 3.57), Tigers: Simon needs to reverse a bad trend. In his last two starts, spanning nine innings, he's been tagged for 12 runs and 14 hits. Teams are hitting .341 against him with a 1.100 OPS in those starts. He's also given up three homers in that span, after allowing just five total in his first 12 starts. His splitter has let him down recently. Teams are hitting 107 points higher against it in June (.278) than in May (.171).