In 1995, the Indians had that awesome Belle-Thome-Manny-Lofton team that won 100 games ... in a strike-shortened season! Their offense was 116 and their pitching 123. You don' see that every day.
But in August, it became apparent the Indians could face the 1995 Mariners in a 5-game series, and John Hart lobbied the league office to change the playoff rules. In public he moaned, it's not fair to have a great team get eliminated by one tremendous pitcher.
Dr. D, posting as JenAnnC at the time, wallowed. Be Afraid, John. Be Very Afraid. The Big Unit was the origin of the term, but since about 2004 it's lost all of its steam. We had to rip off Yasser Seirawan's signoff.
Twenty years on, the idea comes back to life. :- ) You get Friday night's Paxton (and Diaz and Taijuan and Felix and -- we'll see -- Karns) in a short series this October, clubs are going to be trembling, hoping for any matchup other than this one. You do realize that Texas has scored 464 runs and allowed 464?
Jennifer Ann was my newborn daughter. When I first created an AOL account I just typed JenAnnC as the title, oblivious to the fact I'd personally be called that. But it lasted a year or two. Dude, you need a more masculine name, a few people mentioned. Then it was JenMan for a bit ... Oh! why not JenManJi, then je'manji, to give new readers a clue about the wacky tongue-in-cheek nature of the writing and in honor of Robin Williams. Dr. Detecto is of course a spoof of the old roto columns, but you get used to things.
RECIPE FOR SUCCESS, Dept.
By the way, the national story was Paxton's 83 MPH yellow hammer specifically. For sure the curve was the Kershaw bit we've been waiting for, but it's not like Paxton is not Zeus if he has to go (1) 98 MPH and (2) Foshball to keep them honest. Taking the 2016 season to date, his walk rate on the season is a miniscule 2.39, almost weirdly low for a young pitcher of his type.
His FIP is 3.19, best on the Mariners' staff by a mile and a half:
1 Paxton 3.19
2 Karns 3.83
3 Felix 4.24
4 WBC-san 4.33
5 LeBlanc 4.57
6 Taijuan 4.73
7 Jase Miley 5.01 (!)
So forgive my irritation at amigos selling a "good Paxton" and "bad Paxton" who show up randomly, like Go Pikachu in Times Square. :- ) If Paxton is inconsistent, then what then has Iwakuma given us? Pitchers have DOM start percentages and DIS start percentages. Paxton has thrown the ball MUCH more consistently than ANY other starter in Seattle. He's been a metronome compared to anyone else.
It takes a lot to make Blowers lean into the microphone, which I like. But in the 4th, when Paxton was destroying Donaldson-Encarnacion-Tulowitzki on three strikeouts, Blowers marvelled "If there is just a little bit of doubt in your mind as a hitter, you are NOT going to catch up to 98 miles an hour."
If you want even more to read, check out this crisp little 200-word piece by Mark Melancon. He points out that hitters can hit sliders and okay curve balls better than they can good changeups, because the break on the slider actually helps the hitter recognize the pitch. The idea is, MLB hitters need tiny little fine-tuned advantages to survive.
Hence Blowers' statement.
What people didn't get about the rookie Michael Pineda was (basically) this: any 2-pitch MLB starter is going to be dominant if his two pitches add up to 130 on the scale. Such as:
- Zeus this year: 80 fastball and 50 foshball
- Pineda rookie: 80 fastball (including location) and 50-60 slider
- Santana rookie: 70 change and 60 fastball
But a guy like Rookie Kershaw added up to 140 or even 150, with a plus-plus-plus fastball and a better-than-average curve too. What happens if you get two 80 pitches together? Randy Johnson was untouchable even with 20 years' advancement in scouting reports.
Paxton on Friday had an 80 fastball, and a 60 curve ball, so there you go. He also had a 40-50 foshball and threw a 50 changeup about half a dozen times. So? Left on right, vs an absolutely stacked lineup, he made the Jays look silly.
There's no defense, practical or theoretical, to the type of pitching that the Big Unit executed for 20 years, or that Paxton executed Friday.
Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid,