Q. Where did we leave this off, last September?
A. Taijuan en embryo was a fairly good #3 starter, using one pitch. His fastball was so explosive, and so well-commanded, that it more than tipped the balance scales against his two "slow fastballs," the 89 non-slider and the 89 non-changeup. Worse secondary stuff than that, you simply will not see on television. Not unless your TV is located in Perth, West Austrailia.
Which left SSI denizens wanting some functional offspeed, any offspeed, to launch the carnage. ... of course there was the odd single game last year where he had one. Which resulted in, well, carnage.
Q. How was his changeup today?
He started the game with about eight fastballs, and then mixed the change-curve two times to Kendrys.
Two seeing-eye grounders and two outs in, the RH Cody Decker came up number five. Taijuan started him 96-96-95 for a 1-2 count and then --- > threw a 90 MPH version of Hisashi Iwakuma's shuuto.
A. We're going to leave it at that. Iwakuma's shuuto. I thought it was going to hit Decker in the back foot. Garbage swing that missed by a mile. As a little added bonus, that ended the inning, so you had the ::micdrop:: effect.
Dr. D was, um, not displeased at the sight of this pitch, for reasons explained above. But, of course, it was one pitch. Granted, the BEST such pitch we'd ever seen out of Taijuan Walker.
Q. And then? You've got me widdl.... going for a donut. Okay, carry on.
A. The second time he attempted a changeup ... er, splitfinger pitch ... was next hitter, top of the 2nd. Travis Snider -- who hits from the other side of the plate than Decker -- saw 93-95-96-95 for a 2-2 count and then
Another shuuto! (It suddenly occurs to us that brand-new readers may not realize that Iwakuma's shuuto is held with a splitfinger grip, and when WBC-san turns his thumb over the ball to the ground, the ball sails armside and dives sharply down. The old "screwball" type action.)
This shuuto dove from "teed-up" to "at the knees" and Det-O-Nated Snider. Two for two, babe :- O
Dr. D coulda swore he saw this pitch about three more times for strikeouts, but that can't be right.
Can it. Oh, wait. According to Brooks he threw the split five times, for five strikes, and five swing throughs. It's a little like saying you went to the game early and saw Steph Curry hit 35 straight threes. You must have looked away at the wrong time or something. 5 splits and 5 puffs of pink mist at the plate?
Q. Do you have an F/X affidavit to corroborate your testimony.
A. I dunno. The shuuto was recorded as sinking 7" relative to his fastball, though traveling 92 MPH. But remember, the F/X charts don't show the lateness of break, the batter's reaction or the hue pinkness of the mist.
The outing, like Michael Pineda's first coupla Arizona games, went far beyond the box score (3 3 1 1 0 5 or something). It was:
- A "flash" of potential, a testimony to Taijuan's ultimate destiny
- A harbinger of a 21-win season
- A plateau leap but not the last one
- None of the above
- All of the above
We report, you decide.
Q. Anything else would just dilute the point.
A. True, but then again, jemanji is the only one READING the point, so we'll indulge. Fastball: cutting, rising action like a Rivera cutter though averaging 96.7 MPH per Brooks. Change curve: stuck with it, 20% usage that is, and threw it for strikes.
NOW we'll stop diluting.
Could be sooner than later,