The Best Pitching Performance I’ve Ever Seen
“We do not remember days; we remember moments”
I think that this quote can particularly apply to sports fans: we don’t remember games; we remember moments.
It’s tough to remember games when there are 162 of them. For me, at least, sometimes they simply blend together just like days. Most of the time, it is particular moments in games that I remember. It could be a clutch, tie-breaking hit in the sixth inning, a walk-off hit, or even a particular strikeout. I suppose that recalling the context of these moments leads to remembering most of the game, too, but I really believe that it is the one particular moment that pervades the memory.
Sometimes I remember particular games, but that pretty much only comes from exceptionally dominant pitching performances.
I think I speak on behalf of all baseball fans when I say that my attachment to memories is far greater for games that I have actually seen in person. I think we all have a favorite game that we have been to, and this can be because of a particular moment, a particular performance, or maybe both.
You might find it kind of odd when I say that the best pitching performance I have ever seen was thrown by a minor league pitcher at the Double-A level. That minor league pitcher was Kyle Weiland, who will be making his major league debut in about an hour. That game was even more special for me because I was writing the game story that night, and Weiland sure gave me some great material.
I had never seen anything like it. After giving up a double in the first inning, Weiland retired the next 20 batters he faced. That was the only hit he gave up in his seven innings of work. His command was impeccable as he struck out eight batters, walked none, and threw 63 of 90 pitches for strikes. It is, without a doubt, the best pitching performance I have ever seen. Period.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Weiland the very next day. I had been hoping I could interview him at some point during my time at Portland, so the timing was just unbelievable.
E: Favorite food, movie, book, video game
KW: Prime rib/Bull Durham/Scar Tissue/Call of Duty 5
E: Biggest fear?
E: Impact of having an extra day off, or having to sit through a rain delay on your mentality?
KW: You just have to make adjustments–especially in this league,
especially early. There’s a lot of switching around, it’s just something
you have to get used to. Don’t let it affect you. Same approach next day. [In a] delay,
keep your mind occupied until it’s time to get after it.
E: Do you change your approach when pitching from the stretch?
KW: Last year was when I learned actually pitching with guys on
base. It’s something you acquire to be able to hold baserunners on and be able
to make quality pitches still from the stretch. [It is] something I worked on last year
and this year. It has kind of become second nature instead of something that’s
on the back of my mind.
E: Did you ever bat in college?
KW: I got one at-bat in college. I’m batting 1.000 in college. First
pitch I went up there swining. I got a base hit through the hole in left. I hit
a lot in high school I was probably a better hitter than pitcher in my senior
E: Do you miss it?
KW: Not watching these guys in this league pitch I don’t think
I’d be very successful in the box
KW: If I wear a certain pair of socks the start before and it was
a good outing then I wear them the next time.
E: I noticed your changeup working well last night, and you were getting a lot of outs with it. Is that your out pitch?
KW: I would definitely say that my curveball is the out pitch.
My changeup was working last night, and that allowed me to use my fastball and
E: SoxProspects describes your curveball as a “slurve.” Do you agree with that? How do you describe it?
KW: It depends on the day. Sometimes it’s more slurvely,
sometimes it’s more up and down. I don’t fight to get a certain pitch one
outing. Whatever comes up that day, that’s what I adjust to.
*This is where my makeshift recorder dies*
E: I’ve seen so many pitchers make a bad throw to first, why do you think that is?
KW: Probably adjusting from a 60 foot throw to a 30 foot throw.
E: Difference between facing batters with aluminum vs wooden bats?
KW: If you jam guys with aluminum bats, they can still muscle it out in college, but it breaks in pro.
E: Toughest level jump and why?
KW: Toughest was the beginning because I skipped Greenville. I put too much pressure on myself. I learned how to pitch last year.
E: What do you mean by that?
KW: Basically making adjustments if a pitch isn’t working. Especially at this level.
E: If you weren’t playing baseball, what would you be doing instead?
KW: Finishing my anthropology major.
Weiland has been particularly impressive this season with Pawtucket. In his 93 innings of work, he has given up 69 hits, 37 walks, and he has struck out 99. He has an ERA of 3.00, which is a significant drop from last year’s 4.42 in Portland, and even Salem’s 3.46. He is striking out 9.6 batters per nine innings this year, and has an impressive WHIP of 1.14.
Weiland is my favorite pitching prospect in the organization right now, so I’m really excited for him. I don’t think there’s any doubt that his statistics warrant a call-up. I don’t know if he will stick with the club at this point though, but it’s always good for him to get his first taste. The only reason I wouldn’t want him to stick is if he isn’t going to get the innings he needs. In the future, however, there’s no doubt in my mind that Weiland should be a part of the major league roster.
For extensive scouting reports on Weiland, check out SoxProspects.