Seven innings, one run, eleven strikeouts, just one walk. That was Yordano Ventura’s Wednesday night. That will get a guy into the playoff rotation.
Last night was the fifth decent to great outing in a row for Ventura, covering a stretch of 32 innings in which he has allowed just 20 hits and four runs. Along the way Ventura, who struck out 11 batters for the second straight start, has fanned 43 while walking 13. If you eliminate the August 11th start that began this run – a somewhat odd two hit, six walk outing – Ventura has struck out 35 and walked just 7 in 26 innings. THAT is the guy we saw on Opening Day and the pitcher we expected to see throughout the year.
No need to chronicle Ventura’s string of odd injuries and occasional mental hiccups in 2015. We know them all too well and, knock wood, they all seem to be behind Yordano at this point. Without getting too complicated, Ventura was throwing hard last night:
Of course, Ventura always throws hard. Yet, according the Brooks Baseball, his fourseam fastball is actually slower in August (96.55 average) than it was in July (97.1), but his two-seam or sinker is faster. In fact, what Brooks calls a sinker is averaging 96.97 mph in August: faster than the fourseam fastball. You know what that tells this uneducated onlooker? It tells me the computer is having a hard time distinguishing between Ventura’s four and two seam fastballs and/or all his fastballs have some sink to them.
If that kind of data confusion was happening to a guy getting lit up, that would be one possible indication that a pitcher was throwing piles of slop up to the plate. When it happens with a pitcher on a run of domination, I am going to tend to believe he is throwing some nasty stuff up there and confusing (or maybe just flat out overpowering) batters as much as the machines. That is breakfast table analysis, but something to think about…for a few seconds.
Perhaps it is as simple as using a better mix of pitches. Since July 20th, Ventura has thrown his curveball at least 20% of the time in each of his starts. Last night, he threw it 28 times and induced six swing and misses. At the same time, Ventura has gone less and less to his changeup, particularly in his last four starts.
Oversimplification? You betcha. Funny thing is, when you have Yordano Ventura’s stuff, sometimes it really is simple.