Q. Wow, Tony Zych. Is it possible that he got the start in the Johnny Bullpen game for any real purpose?
A. Here's hoping. Zych's power RH fastball-slider game is in the same template as --- > JeDi's pride-and-joy SP, Garrett Richards. Forget the same template. Zych is one of the most-comparable pitchers in the majors to Richards, as far as weaponry goes.
We're guessing, off-handedly, that this similarity might occur to Jerry DiPoto.
Q. How open is Dr. D, much less Jerry DiPoto, to two-pitch starters?
A. . ...
It's true, as a very general principle, that Fastball-Slider is the most difficult 2-pitch combo to make work. But the ones who make it work are often dominant. Michael Pineda, Garrett Richards, Kerry Wood, Chris Archer, Tyson Ross, just off the top of the head ... Ervin Santana, Jason Hammel, and a lot of righties build nice careers off this combo. Hey, don'cha wish Taijuan Walker expanded his 1-pitch arsenal to include a good slider?
No idea whether the M's are entertaining this on Zych. Dr. D is merely saying that he wishes they would. Zych and Wilhelmsen are the two RP-SP conversions that interest Dr. D.
Q. Can he sustain this 95-97 MPH velocity, like Richards can?
A. No idea. But his first attempt to go 40 pitches, it looked rather NOT like Brandon Maurer.
Q. Where did this K:BB ratio come from? He went six years with a 7:3 ratio, the M's pick him up, and BOOOOOMstick he's 12:2 in Tacoma. And carries it smack-dab into Safeco.
A. You tell me; Dr. D wasn't watching him before. ... As you know, pitchers do leap plateaus. There could be 1,000 explanations for why he wasn't blowing guys away before; I only know why he's blowing them away now.
In the Astros game Wednesday, he threw 20 fastballs averaging 96 MPH ... 16 (!) for strikes. Of those strikes, 5 were whuffs and 6 were taken for strikes.
On the slider, he threw 17 of which 11 were strikes. The Astros swung at almost all of them, 4/11 were (bad) swings and misses.
If Dr. D's feeble efforts at arithmetic hold up, that would make 9/37 pitches swung at and missed, about 24% -- this despite being in the strike zone every pitch?! Felix and Iwakuma have averaged 10% throughout their careers, and they're Cy Young contenders. We're just saying, Zych rained some bloody death on the Astros.
Q. How was the head jerk? Can you put a max-effort guy into the rotation?
A. Earlier in the year, to start his shoulder turn with power, Zych was RRRIIIPPING his jaw from 6:30 to 9:00 on the face of a clock, and doing it as hard as physically possible for a human being. Dr. D has been advised that in sports, you'd be better off not jiggling your eyeballs quite so much. When he first got here, Zych's head was developing its own weather system.
Wednesday, there were pitches in which he moved only 6:30 to 7:00, and at about 1/3 speed. Only a couple of head rips were as violent as the first time we saw him. As you know, we live to serve.
A starter's rhythm, like Wilhelmsen's, is a wonderful thing. Command improves inning-by-inning. But there are few absolutes in baseball, and many SP's in baseball have violent deliveries. Garrett Richards does, pretty much.
Q. Other M's relievers have big sliders and hot fastballs. Mayckol Guaipe does this -- and with a better slider, one that moves more -- but Guaipe only has a 7.8 to 3.6 control ratio. What's the difference?
A. Zych's slider pops a -13 MPH parachute and is thrown with outstanding arm speed. For this type of pitcher it really is more about deception on the slider, using it as a changeup. Pineda's and Richards' sliders are not Nintendo sliders, but they "sell" their sliders. So does Zych.
Also, Zych's motion is short-arm and from behind his ear. Quite obviously, the batters pick up the spin later than they do on (say) Gil Meche.
In Houston, second time through the lineup, Jose Altuve (!) guessed slider, got slider .. UP in the zone, mistake pitch. Altuve missed it, high pop to shortstop. So to deal with Tony Zych, you obviously need a skill set more robust than Jose Altuve's. QED.
The AB previous, same third inning, Zych threw a blizzard of 96 fastballs to Jason Castro, 6 straight pitches all in the same place. Castro simply could not make contact on any of them:
This is how they would pitch ME. And I'd get the same result Castro did. ..... 1 in 3 major league catchers never come back from a single lucid butt-kicking like this one.
Of course, it's possible that Castro, on a dare, had just shotgunned a fifth and spun circles with his forehead on a bat knob. But it could also have been part of the problem that Zych's heater has an 8x9 break, rather than the MLB-standard 5x8 (four seamer) or 8x5 (two seamer). The ball explodes armside up to a hitter's cap. Scintillating swing-and-miss movement, hopping up over the bat. Hitters will need to cheat on that pitch, big time.
The Good Tony Zych is also very comparable to The Good Carson Smith. Smith's slider moves better, but Zych throws harder. They both have hard deliveries to pick up, and they both are racking up 11 strikeouts a ballgame.
Q. Leaving us where?
A. GM Detecto has Zych on a hot list. After all he's done in 2015, and after that jaw-dropping Astros performance, and after comparing Zych's performance within his template to guys like Richards, Smith, and Guaipe. Hey, the Angels have been finding a few Santiagos and Shoemakers among the jetsam and flotsam in the MLB sea. No rule against the M's doing so.