Bonderman is still only 27-years old, but after domintating the Yankees in the 2006 ALDS, every one had him ticketed to stardom and a future Cy Young winner. Injuries have certainly derailed his career (blisters and elbow pain in 2007, 2008 shoulder surgery to correct Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, and last year he still was recovering/building up arm strength), but this year he has re-surfaced as a "new pitcher". He was a 1st round pick of the A's in 2001, and made his debut for the Tigers in 2003, going 6-19 with a 5.56 ERA (4.69 FIP). His best year was in 2006, when he started 34 games (214 innings), and went 14-8 with a 4.08 ERA (3.29 FIP) and 1.3 WHIP, while striking out 8.5/9. The key to his success was his devastating slider, which he threw 35% of the time, by far the most in the majors. His career numbers are still skewed from that 2003 season, as his career marks are 62-71, 4.73 ERA 1.38 WHIP. He has faced the Mets twice and is 1-1 with a 7+ ERA, but I discount those stats because like I said previously, Bonderman is a "new pitcher" now.
When Bonderman first came up, he was throwing 93-96 and was a power pitcher. Those days are over, as his fastball sits at 90 and occasionally can dial it up to 93-94. He is throwing a two-seamer more than his four-seam (37% to 28%) to try to induce more ground-balls, but he's still largely a fly-ball pitcher. He still has a plus slider (84 mph), but is throwing it 25% of the time compared to 35% in 2006 and 2007. Occasionally throws his change-up (82 mph), but it's a below average pitch. He's back up to striking out around the league average (7.1/9) and walking less than 2.4/9. He's getting 33% swings at pitches out of the strike zone (league average 28%), the highest of his career and a big reason for his success, as well as 9.2% swinging strike (league average 8.3%). He throws first pitch fastball 76% of the time, and when he gets to two strikes, he throws his slider 40% of the time (except for 3-2).
This year Bonderman is 3-4 in 12 starts (13 games), throwing 75 1/3 innings, with a 4.06 ERA (3.69 FIP), and 1.23 WHIP. Two dismal starts have inflated his ERA (April 16 @ Seattle: 4 innings, 8 earned runs, and June 6 @ the Royals: 5 2/3 innings, 7 earned runs). Due to both of those games, he has a 6+ ERA on the road this year. Aside from the Royals implosion, he has had seven quality starts since May 1st, allowing three runs in only one other game, and sports a 2.96 ERA during that time. His last start versus the Nationals was impressive, throwing seven innings, allowing five hits, no walks, and two runs, while striking out seven, and needing only 95 pitches. He has only thrown 100 pitches three times this year as he still may be trying to build his stamina. He has allowed a home run in four consecutive games, with Adam Dunn hammering a hanging slider last game, but the game was already out of reach.
Manager Jim Leyland loves his "no-fear" attitude, and the new Bonderman may not be a future ace, but could be a solid #3/4 starter if he continues to mature and understand his new philosophy/repertoire.