So. In the world according to Garp, er, Dr. D, St. Patrick's Day 2018 was the day on which the St. Louis Cardinals could not have the Tyler O'Neill swap back, even if they asked. No way, no how. Gonzales has been screaming his cafe racer past one checkpoint after another, and that was the one he blew by on Saturday.
What's that y'say, Billy Bob?
Well, lemme splain. He wiped several hitters out with that gorgeous changeup, not that it had the -12 separaration; it didn't. It was maybe -7, -8. But it had the drop-dead gorgeous fade and flop, the dead-fish action, and it had the arm motion. This was a changeup that makes a 7K starting pitcher.
This was the pitch that Dr. D was peering through his specacles to find, and Saturday, there it was! The Mainframe is now completely satisfied with Marc-O's changeup, which Marc-O will be delighted to hear, and the readout seems to have declared it a near-fearsome weapon.
What nearly fearsome means, you can puzzle out for yourself, gentle Denizen. But that's where we're at. We don't have the 2013 change, which would have made the best changeup in the majors, but we have a strikeout pitch. And A's DID in fact strike out on it, and wave several other garbage swings at it into the bargain.
But Marc-O's game was effective as it was, based on command, intellignce and poise (13:6:1 in 16 IP), but the deadfish change is a game-changer.
He also threw the "clamshell" fastball and slider, the one in which the catcher merely closes his mitt over the ball. And here we're talking, without even hinging the wrist up or down a little bit. A fastball located like that, with or without a little excuse-me slider (small break) showing the same command .... well, how does Bartolo Colon do, throwing a fastball into a teacup and doing it 90% of the time?
And we ain't done. He threw a Jamie Moyer / David Wells bloop curve ball, one with exquisite command, coming in knee high time after time.
That's the scouting report. Two obvious questions ensue:
1) How does anybody hit that?! Surely Dr. D jests. Or embellishes. Or bonked his head too hard, or something. This isn't Cliff Lee we are talking about here.
Well, for one thing, he did throw a 5-IP shutout. Actually his line was 5.2 ip 1 h 0 r 0 er 1 bb 3 k. So how does anybody hit that... they didn't.
But for a second thing, he doesn't quite have the whole deal YET. It's a hard deal-io to explain; e.g. he is throwing the beautiful bloop curve ball and hitting the mitt, but he's not quite doing it at WILL, know whutuhmean? And it's not like he's wielding the dead-fish changeup whenever he has the hitter set up, the way Jamie Moyer used to do. He is showing these pitches, showing them often, but as far as the maestro Cliff Lee routine where you sequence this shtick against whatever the batter fears, no not yet.
And they say he's throwing an armside cut fastball, to (of course) set up the deadfish change. But considering the TJ, Dr. D will believe it when he sees it. In terms of the cutter being an at-will weapon, one he can exploit overagressive leaners with. Dr. D suspects he's throwing 6-8 a game, at random spots, or something. When it needs to be 20 per game and at the correct times.
2) Why in the Milky Way galaxy would the St. Louie franchise, the best in baseball, trade a pitcher like this? Of course when they dealt him, there was an injury arc to go through. That injury arc had a 10th-percentile outcome, and a 50th-percentile outcome, and a 90th-percentile outcome.
They traded him without a crystal ball or dried chicken bones or even a Wal-Mart magic 8 ball, and it was just as likely that Marc-O would favor his arm, throw mushy, or even blow out his arm.
March 17, 2018, Marco Gonzales steps on the mound and throws the game of a Top of Rotation (TOR) stater. There are plently of directions we can go from here; Marc-O is still figuring it out. He could easily blow a UCL trying to throw a cutter, for all we know.
But there is a Jamie Moyer path from here, using Moyer as a TEMPLATE, a type of pitcher, not as a degree-of-quality pitcher. Marc-O is throwing with ex-TREME command and yesterday he showed, for the first time, the dead-fish change. Bear in mind that changeup is not new to him; before his injury it was his best pitch, his trademark, and one he used to rack up 10 strikeouts in certain games.
There is also a Cliff Lee path from here, because as you know Marc-O's velocity is that of Lee, not that of Moyer. He's even getting clocked at 94 on occasion, and if the cut fastball turns out to be a reliable weapon then we've really got something.
Eyes slideways on Marco Gonzales, and tip o' the kelly to Bat571, who was the one to adopt him from the jump. There are certain things we were hoping to see from Gonzales, and he is just flat showing those things. Check it off, and move on. Talk about a guy for the roto yellow sticky, this dude could win 15.