Okay, that's four games in a row.
If Dr. D did not know better, he would accuse Taijuan Walker of having a change curve that was among the best in the American League. And a splitfinger that was 5th-year quality.
The Oakland A's better hope not. (Actually they ARE hoping not. You saw Peter Gammons' little anecdote that the A's were praying they didn't draw Taijuan in a Wild Card game? "And that's who they would have gotten.")
MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUF IS, dept.
We always liked this thought experiment. suppose you put Tyrus Raymond Cobb His Ownself in a camouflage body and (maybe) a Cuban or Japanese uniform. How many scouts and managers would point their fingers and say "Hey! That guy plays like Ty Cobb!"
Roger Jongewaard was able to do that, in Ichiro's case. And how many benefits did the Seattle Mariners reap because he could?
If you're a kid, you might not have known that Jongewaard argued for a high school hitter over a college pitcher one year. The M's owner, George Argyros, finally snapped, "We're taking him. If he isn't a star, it is your job."
Junior, of course. Seattle owes a lot to Roger Jongewaard.
:: getonwithit :: Had Dr. D been watching a generic cyborg drone throw those pitches in the 3rd and 4th innings, he would have guessed that the pitcher behind the drone was -- > whom?
Pedro Martinez. Here's his player card. Pedro was good for a couple of years there.
You Can NOT Be SEEERious
The eerie shiver down the spine was provoked by Taijuan's overhand yakker. Last game out, Taijuan threw close to 100% strikes with his curve, and they seemed to routinely crack off to hit the knees. Yesterday there could be no doubt: he was practically incapable of throwing the curve to any place but the knees.
Well, he did have a few come off his hand wrong, two of them spinning way high-outside, no danger to him or the fence. Of the other 10, eight were strikes, three garbage swings, only one pitch in play (it was an easy out).
This -21 MPH curve ball, breaking so hard it almost has to wind up low in the zone, is delivered with a convincing arm action and it's precisely that which echo'ed Pedro. M's fans, you may prepare to dance the Futterwacken.
Again if we didn't know better, we'd say that Taijuan has an easier time throwing his spikeball for a strike than he does his fastball. Actually we do know better, because after Waits comes out to the mound that's what Taijuan uses to get back in the zone.
A couple of times, batters looked split, got split, and still swung through it.
Think you can take it from there? 13-of-15 spikeballs in the zone, 4 garbage swings. Twice that I counted, they were hit solidly. But Taijuan's minimum acceptable standard is not an 0.00 ERA. This is his second pitch we're talking about.
His fastball is approximately as effective as Michael Pineda's used to be. You don't go by velocity alone, as you know. We've ticked off the factors on our fingers, why the hitters have to start their bats so early with Taijuan. Blowers confirmed one of them: "He looks like he's right on top of you out there." For you sabes, we're talking stride length, hidden distance factor. Like Chris Young and Felix have going for them.
He threw 52 pitches, drawing 11 swings and misses. Benchmark: Kershaw and Sale throw 100 pitches and get 13-14 swings and misses.
Hey, there is a reason that Taijuan's K:Hit ratio is practically Tyler Olsen-like. The hitters are fighting a rearguard action up there. When your goal is to put the ball in play, you're not real liable to hit one over the fence.
It's hard for me to picture Taijuan throwing 1,000 innings with his motion. And we're not forecasting a zero-plus ERA, like Pedro woulda dunn in Safeco. It's that fastball-yakker combo that is the point here. If Taijuan can really do it, we're in for something crazy.
BANZAI!!!! ... oh ...
It's a funny thing. Three years ago, SSI told you that it would give three Taijuans to get back one James Paxton -- and it wasn't that we were unaware that Taijuan could conceivably become the best pitcher in baseball. That were true then, but Taijuan has passed several filters here, and now you've got to admit that Taijuan's value has surged past Paxton's.
It's a funny thing, the way the scouts can see a Bansai tree when a kid is 18 years old. They saw this performance back when Taijuan was in high school. No way I ever could.
It's why Baseball America weights talent so heavily against "percentage chance of success." The Taijuan Walker visions are hypnotic.