They did an extended convo with Mr. Whalen during the ballgame on Wednesday, during which they established several things worth eyes slideways:
(1) The Mariners catchers claimed that Whalen's curve ball had easily the best, most deceptive break that they had seen in the M's camp. Maybe they were talking about his power slider, which was the pitch SSI had been admiring without the benefit of F/X. The results for both pitches:
SLIDER = 16 pitches, 12 in the zone, 7 attempts to swing, 4 whuffs, 1 ball hit into play, which was an out. (-1.05 score.)
CURVE = 10 pitches, 8 in the zone, 5 swings, of which, 3 balls hit into play all for outs. (-1.83 score.)
By the way, his change was used merely 6 times: 4 strikes, all 4 swings, 1 connected for a single.
The sinker had a -0.34 score and the hard-cutting 90 MPH fastball, for some reason, has a +1.74 score.
Dr. D has been very high on Rob Whalen all year, first "promoting" him to clear #9 starter and, after his last start, moving him miles upon miles, all the way to actually the #5 guy. The more so since he threw 32 offspeed against 41 fastballs. Result: 5.0 ip, 3h, 1r, 1er, 2bb, 9k. Which is OK by me from our #5 starter.
On Slack Chat they had fretted about Whalen's durability; during his interview he spoke of his curveball as if it was the easiest thing to throw in the world. Listening to Slack I had worried quite a bit; listening to Whalen I was confused, since HE had me convinced that 200 innings was a walk in the park for him. What gives?
Looking at Whalen on TheBaseballCube it's hard to say - his rook and A+ starts were 12-17 but that's pretty typical for a guy age 20. In 2016 he took 26 starts for the Braves at age 22, and the 5 starts in Atlanta he went 24 ip with a 25:12:2 slash line. Then last year he had the mental problems. So, I'd like to hear more from our minors expert Gordon there.
One thing is for sure, this dude has a tight-spin, late-breaking slide and a curve to go with it. Perhaps if they only need a #5 starter in spots, he's our man.
Y'know, there was always something that confused me about Randy Johnson. Nobody questions his greatness, but there was always one thing that confused me just a little bit. He would throw pitch after pitch for a strike, fasballl or slider, but…… always exactly the same vertical level, knee high. 20 years went by, and nobody ever adjusted, except that one little 3B, anybody remember his name? Oh, Randy Velarde.
Cue Wednesday's game and here we get a echo of the same paradox. Paxton rocked back tinto pinwheel and threw fastball or yakker -- and it would sizzle in and explode into the catcher's mitt knee high.
I noticed exactly zero changeups and zero foshballs, though after the game he said he threw his fosh. Musta been breaking awfully hard (which is good, Egbert). I noticed no high fastballs. I did notice a bunch of helpless Giants, a 7:1 CTL ratio in 4.2 innings, most of the swings and called K's of the automatic variety. It was a chainsaw slaughter out there.
What do you suppose was up with that? You think we're about to see a blizzard of auto-strikes?
One thing, though. Pax was at 75 pitches after 4.2 innings. Randy, they'd let go 120 pitches.
.... with his life on the line, and then some, used a fungo swing to line it into center field for a hit. He was 3-for-4 on the day and maybe Dr. D gave him a standing-8 count a tadbit early.
YET MORE PRECAUTIONARY INJURIES
Ichiro and Segura left early – again as precautionary, attempts to make sure that nothing got out of hand. If you're counting, that's 19 precautionary leg pulls in the training room as of Thursday.
HANIGER GETTING INTO THE SWING OF THINGS EARLY
We figured another week before he started feeling it. But here he is with two "Hits", one of them ricocheting off the batter's eye.
Has nine walks in 33 AB's, basically twice anyone else's on the roster, a pro-rate easily enough to lead the league ... which thing Jerry Dipoto had claimed was something rather important to him. 'Bach also careened around and second base rather easily on a single to make it to third base, the second time he has done so. He is a lot faster than he looks, which is to say he approaches average speed.
SPRING TRAINING THUS FAR
I'm going to go ahead and give it an A. I don't care much about the 3-day leg strains, am very happy with the 1-4 SP's, love having Ichiro in a 4-to-make-3, and am daring Dipoto to shed Dan Vogelbach. True enough, there are players whose stats are less than impressive: Boomstick's, all the OF's other than CF, pick your spots. And the M's are 7-12, based largely on losing yesterday based on Art Warren blowing Whalen's lead by coughing up 4 runs.
But I'm liking a lot of things so far.