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Two Keys for Daniel Hudson in Game 2 on Sunday | October

Daniel Hudson has been one of the NL's best starters in 2011, finishing with a 16-12 record and a 3.49 ERA (3.28 FIP). But there are two problems that have plagued Hudson most of the season, and that he must avoid in Game 2 on Sunday against the Brewers.

1) First Inning Woes
In 33 starts, Hudson has given up a total of 27 runs (22 ER) in the first inning.  Batters are hitting .319/.386/.526 (912 OPS) against Hudson in the first, compared to .255/.301/.394 (694 OPS) overall. He has allowed 5 HR in the first, the most of any inning, and his 15 BB in the first are also the most of any inning.  Over his last 5 starts, he has given up first inning runs in 4 of them. Take away the first inning and Hudson's ERA improves from 3.49 all the way down to 3.05. With the Diamondbacks already down 1-0 in the series, the team can't afford to fall behind early.

2) Two-Strike Hits
For most pitchers, being ahead in the count is a good thing. But that hasn't been the case for Hudson in 2011. For National League pitchers as a group, batters are hitting .164 after a 0 Ball, 2 Strike count.  But for Hudson, hitters are at .254 after falling behind 0 and 2. Looking at the more general case of hitter's counts and pitcher's count, the numbers for Hudson are just as strange.

National League AVG OBP SLG
NL - Batter Ahead .299 .468 .490
NL - Even Count .268 .413 .413
NL - Pitcher Ahead .201 .296 .296
Daniel Hudson AVG OBP SLG
Hudson - Batter Ahead .228 .363 .401
Hudson - Even Count .272 .275 .423
Hudson - Pitcher Ahead .258 .270 .356

NL pitchers as a group only allow a .201 AVG when ahead in the count, compared to .268 on even counts and .299 when the batter is ahead. Hudson's numbers are backwards - he actually allows the fewest hits when the batter is ahead in the count. 

One possible cause for Hudson's unusual numbers may be his slider. On 0-2 counts, he has thrown the slider 25% of the time, compared to 16% overall. And it seems like that 0-2 slider is catching the plate a little too much. Usually pitchers try to make a batter chase a tough pitch on 0-2, but Hudson's 0-2 pitches may have been a little too hittable this year. Over the last few games, Hudson has done a better job in these situations, and he has been throwing a few more fastballs in those situations. It's something to keep an eye on in Sunday's crucial start.