PREAMBLE. The young TOR starter who debuted with a flash in 2013, that's K-Pax. He throws a raging fastball for strikes, pretty much, and has 0.5 of an offspeed pitch. Like a foshball that's off and on, or something. He's about the #14 pitcher in the league.
The lightning storm who throws 70% strikes, and whose fastball "plays up" due to a decently reliable offspeed game, that's Zeus.
Coming off the DL, Paxton has gained acceleration, though not at a perfectly linear pace, naturally. Graphs upward tend to have some zags in them. The graph hit "Zeus" on Friday.
DESCRIPTION. Zeus came out throwing his Clayton Kershaw yakker as comfortably as he threw his fastball. The ump wasn't giving anything close, and the A's weren't swinging at it. Unless there were two strikes; then they might or might not swing at it. (The A's swung at only 8 of 31 curve balls; they were tipping their cap and letting it fly by.)
It didn't matter. Paxton's fastball "played up" in this scenario and he got 11 swings and misses -- with the fastball alone, -2.87 linear weights on the pitch. Time and again Paxton threw his NINETY-FOUR fastball by the A's, much less the 98 fastball he had later.
All told, Zeus got 20 (twenty!) swings and misses while giving up only two hits. Let me read that sentence again. And most the game he was throwing only 93-95.
STRATEGIC. Along with a very comfy 31 curve balls, Paxton also mixed in nearly ten foshballs AND he mixed in about ten CHANGE ups. Roughly 50 offspeed pitches. As we said earlier, anything that causes Paxton's fastball to "play up" creates a Zeus-like carnage. He can do that with a sharp breaking pitch of any kind, or he can do that with pinpoint unpredictable location of the fastball, or he can do it with three different breaking pitches thrown a lot, as he did last night.
The common factor is 70% plus strikes. James Paxton need fear no man. 70% plus strikes is a question of will for him, rather than a question of hitting corners.
OPINION. A trendline up is not a straight line drawn with a metal ruler and a scalpel-sharp drafter's pencil. "Trend" means "a general direction in which something is changing." James Paxton is trending towards catastrophe for the M's opponents, and trending towards --- > a big win in the 2017 play-in game.
From his camera angle four feet behind home plate, Dave Valle said the same thing postgame. James Paxton is consistently trending up.
Dr. D is boggle-eyed at how fast Paxton's CHANGE UP is coming along. He's mixing four pitches, it's all over. Remember, last night he didn't even have his big fastball.
They lament Cruz' bum knee. Everybody knows you can't hit a golf ball or a baseball with a static lower half. Well, by "everybody" we mean Moe Dawg and anybody who will listen to him.
With his static lower half, Cruz set a StatCast record for himself on the 116 MPH *single* last night. The 433-foot home run was hit at lower velocity. Slap me silly can this guy hit. He's 36 years old and he's .300/.380/.520 playing on one leg, in Safeco. That's a 140 OPS+. Once upon a time we wouldn't even consider right hand power hitters, remember that?
Everybody knows you can't have an obtrusive pop-up ad as the overlayer to your main site. MLB.com and Mariners.org greet you exactly this way. Which seems fitting; the Commissioner absolutely dares you to do anything about his triply-focused attack on monetizing every nickel available to the industry.
I'll still watch baseball, mayhaps. Just don't see the value in snicking your customer across the cheek with a shoestring so much, whether or not he's a captive audience. But, whatever.
From the Mariners' site we just whined about :- ) there was this oh-so-sweet quote from Zeus: "Those last two innings, I just reached back and let it rip. I think it was real important to get this one tonight and hopefully get us on the right track for the next couple days so we can go into the break strong."