“Hitting is timing. Pitching is upsetting timing.”
–Hall of Fame pitcher Warren Spahn
Warren Spahn was a 17-time All-Star who won 363 games in his career. In 1963, he went 23-7 when he was 42-years-old.
In other words, he kinda knew what he was talking about.
Disrupting a hitter’s timing is one of the biggest keys to pitching, and Kyle Weiland did it masterfully in his last start.
The 24-year-old righty struck out 10 batters in 4.2 IP last Thursday at Syracuse and what stood out was how he recorded those strikeouts: 5 on curveballs, 3 on changeups, and 2 on fastballs that peaked at 93 mph.
“It was one of those outings where everything comes together,” Weiland told me. “(Catcher Luis Exposito) and I had a good conversation before the game and wanted to get a good mix going early in the ballgame.”
Weiland, a third round draft pick out of Notre Dame in 2008, threw 83 pitches (52 strikes) and here’s a closer look and how he used his entire repertoire:
41 fastballs (30 strikes)
20 curveballs (10 strikes)
13 cutters (5 strikes)
9 changeups (7 strikes)
“It was one of those days where I had all of my pitches working and I’ll obviously take it,” Weiland said. “It was definitely one of my better performances. It’s fun when you take your mind out of it and just let your stuff work.”
His curve was especially nasty as all five curveball strikeouts came on swings-and-misses.
“I learned this curveball in college – it’s the spike – and I learned it over Christmas break my freshman year from a guy named Christian Parker who went to my high school and attended Notre Dame as well,” Weiland said. “He got drafted and was in professional baseball for a long time before getting plagued by injury. I kept in contact with him through college, and every time I would go back home, I would work with him and he taught me the spike curveball which really came naturally with my arm slot. It was an easy pitch for me to throw and that’s where it all started. It became a very effective pitch in my first year in college.”
Weiland was a closer for the Fighting Irish and still holds the school’s all-time record for career saves. But in his four years in the Red Sox organization, Kyle has been used almost exclusively as a starter (68 games, 63 starts).
“I talked to a lot of the scouts when I was in college and they told me that they saw me as a starter because I did have a third pitch that could play – the changeup,” Weiland said. “So I had an idea that I might go into professional baseball as a starter. I’ve learned to love this role and it’s great to go out there for more than an inning.”
He’ll take the mound on Tuesday night at McCoy Stadium and since the Red Sox are in Oakland, it’s a great opportunity for Sox fans to come to Pawtucket and see a good young pitching prospect in action.
In other words, the timing is perfect.
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Matt Albers is also scheduled to make his second (and final) rehab appearance on Tuesday. The hard-throwing righty tossed a perfect inning with one strikeout on Sunday, throwing 8 of his 11 pitches for strikes.
Albers is the first Boston player to join Pawtucket on an injury rehab this year and he followed baseball protocol by treating his minor league teammates to a post-game feast.
Following Sunday’s game, the home clubhouse was filled with the delicious aroma of LJ’s BBQ in Pawtucket as Albers treated the boys to ribs, chicken, pulled pork and a wide variety of side dishes.
Last year, a total of 15 Boston players were sent to Pawtucket on rehab assignments, meaning the players ate like kings for much of the season.
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The PawSox go for their 5th straight win on Tuesday night as they host Syracuse at 6:15. I hope you’ll join us for radio coverage beginning with the pre-game show at 6:00 on the PawSox radio network and pawsox.com.
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