For a 21-year-old making his fourth MLB start (but first in a part of the season that “counted”), it ended well. Taijuan Walker struck out four of the last six batters he faced, and gave up no runs in the final four innings of work.
It was a solid rally from the first two innings, in which he gave up three runs on a pair of homers.
But it certainly looks as if the initial wobbliness was something he quickly conquered.
Here are “handedness-neutral” strikezone charts. That means the pitch will show up as “inside” or “outside” regardless of the hitter. [Pitches to lefties are just flipped horizontally on the chart, in other words.] I broke it down into three charts of two innings each.
In the 1st and 2nd, he was scatter-shot, missing up, down, in and out. These were his least-effective innings. In the 3rd and 4th, he got his command in line. The outside misses disappear, and he’s able to pound the bottom of the zone. He gave up a couple of singles in these innings, but he wasn’t laboring. It looks like he was focused on “throwing strikes” — which he did (12 of 13 pitches in the 3rd).
Finally, in the 5th and 6th, he lets loose. He switches from “throwing strikes” to “getting outs.” He’s moving the ball around, but mostly with a plan (except for the pitch way inside that hit Jose Altuve). Check out those curveballs on the outside corner (the yellow squares marked “4” and “6”). The one marked “6” got George Springer swinging to end the 5th, and the one marked “4” was fouled off and set up the high fastball that got Jason Castro swinging to end the 6th.
I think I’ll break out the hitting in a separate post.
- Baseball-reference.com boxscore here.
- Chris Taylor led off the game with a home run for Tacoma, and Corey Hart joined him later. Nick Franklin added two hits.
- Taylor: .330/.403/.537. Franklin: .304/.402/.495. If both are still wearing Rainiers uniforms in August, I’ll be surprised.
- Patrick Kivlehan had three hits and a walk, but Jackson lost on a 9th inning rally.
- Phillips Castillo had a homer and a single for Everett, and one of our emerging favorites — lefty reliever Leoncio Munoz — had five strikeouts in 3.1 IP of scoreless relief.
- The Mariner rookies went to 14 innings before overcoming the rookie Brewers. Lachlan Fontaine had a homer and two singles, and glamour rookie Alex Jackson went 3-for-5.