Welcome to the rotation, Zach Plesac. Here’s your complimentary outstanding start followed by a total offensive letdown. Don’t feel bad, it’s a ritual as old as time, or at least 2013. Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco,
Mike Clevinger, Trevor Bauer — everyone before you has had to be dramatically let down by their offense at least once. Now you, too, can count yourself among these legends as tonight you were left out to dry in the best game of your young career.
Part of me wonders what Francisco Mejia is up to these days. I hope he’s having a better time than his trade counterparts in Cleveland. Both Brad Hand and Adam Cimber combined to allow four runs in the top of the ninth tonight, the deciding runs of the night and further evidence that peak Brad Hand is just done.
Hand’s fastball struggled to top 91 mph and he induced just one swinging strike in 22 pitches. Cimber was equally ineffective with four fouls (his only strikes) on 10 pitches.
None of that can take away the display that Zach Plesac put on for the first eight innings, however. His weird north-slider that works so well induced 13 swinging strikes on the night and he located his fastball for 12 called strikes. All in all, he finished the night with 98 pitches, only three hard-hit balls against him, 11 strikeouts, and no walks. By far his best game ever.
Plesac continued a string of nastiness and domination from the rotation that is now six pitches deep with no end in sight.
Unfortunately, he was offensively left out to try dry by everyone not named José Ramírez. Last year Lucas Giolito bragged about easy it was to face Indians batters — just keep flipping between fastballs and changeups and those foolish fools never adjusted. Surely he couldn’t repeat that again, right? Surely the Indians have a coach on staff who can tell them to — I don’t know — expect a changeup here and there?
Forty of Giolito’s 85 pitches were changeups, 41 were fastballs, and the Indians never seemed to know what was coming. He has a good changeup, sure, but needless to say he doesn’t typically use it 50% of the time. That kind of usage is saved for the one lineup that came seem to adjust to it whatsoever.
It wasn’t all a terrible game, though, just mostly.
As previously mentioned, José got into the action and his helmet flew off again, continuing a potentially historic pace. His weakest hit had an exit velocity of 96.2 mph.
Bradley Zimmer went 0-for-3 but he absolutely blistered a ball and managed to take a 3-2 pitch in the bottom of the ninth instead of the free-swinging Zimmer we’ve seen in years past.
Beau Taylor, filling in for the injured Roberto Perez, looked like a pretty solid defensive catcher back there — save for one major goof aside in the top of the ninth when he was called for catcher interference. But he did manage to block a crucial ball in the dirt in that same inning, and throughout the game he looked like a pretty solid framer in this most limited of small sample sizes.
He gave Plesac a few gift strikes:
And only lost a few decisions on the upper edge of the zone.
That could just be attributed to one umpire’s particular strike zone, but we at least know Beau Taylor didn’t completely blow it back there, right? If only we could say the same about everyone else.