When the idea of Roenis Elias making the starting rotation first started to emerge, our view was that (1) Elias needed to be in the midst of a “plateau leap” to survive (since his numbers to date indicated nothing extraordinary); (2) there were indications that such a “plateau leap” was possible; and (3) the majors seemed like an unlikely place for such a “plateau leap” to take place.
His first few starts seemed to confirm as much. He hung in there, benefiting from some good fortune early. His fastball is legit and “effectively wild” — but was still subject to being “caught up with” if that was the main weapon.
Thursday, however, we got the guile and the “plateau leap.” And … wow.
What we know is this:
- Elias threw 41 curves (his MLB high; next highest 26)
- 17 were balls
- 7 were called strikes
- 17 were swung at
- 6 swing-and-miss
- 8 foul balls
- 3 balls-in-play
- 0 base hits
And a partridge in a pear tree.
Fact is, going back to look, the curve has been effective all year (only three singles given up), but he was not going to it against RH hitters (only 13%, and then usually when ahead in the count).
Thursday, he used it 25% of the time against RH hitters (and 57% against lefties). In other words, he “weaponized” it, and the Yankees had no answer.
The emergence of Elias into an “impact starter” role would be huge. But before we get too carried away, remember that Elias — while very good — was not this kind of dominant pitcher in AA … just last year.
But Thursday was a pretty good indication that a great leap forward could be happening.
Los dobles de Cano:
Robinson Cano hit only one double during the eight-game losing streak.
Since then he has three doubles and the team is 5-1.
[40 doubles. It’s in his DNA.]
Pencil vs. Scotch Watch:
Saunders in three games as leadoff hitter: .444/.545/.889 (4-for-9, 2 BB, HR)
Almonte (23 games): .214/.260/.316
Lloyd’s going to need more scotch.
- With the crowded infield in Tacoma (Nick Franklin, Chris Taylor, Ty Kelly), Gabriel Noriega has been pushed to third base on occasion. But he’s almost hitting like he belongs there with 23 hits and 8 doubles in his first 14 games. He had four more hits on Thursday. I’m not the only one who wrote him off.
- Another utility-infielder-type, Nathan Melendres, homered for Jackson.
- High Desert should have plenty of offensive firepower, and Thursday it was the Ivy Leaguer — Dario Pizzano — checking in with a home run and two singles as the Mavericks romped to 13 runs.
- Low-A Clinton got in another double-header and came away with a sweep. The LumberKings took the nightcap in dramatic fashion with a late three-run homer by Cano’s cousin Burt Reynolds.