Alright, fine. It’s at least worth mentioning why it appeared J.C. Mejía’s start went immediately off the rails en route to an 8-2 loss to the Cardinals. He cruised through the first two outs of the bottom of the first inning before struggling to find the zone and leaning far too heavily on his slider.
It’s difficult to know who is to blame at first glance for that disaster of an inning — sort of just everybody. Mejía probably should have hit his spots better, but Austin Hedges probably should have called for something other than sliders when it was clear his pitcher had no feel for it. Hedges is open about explaining things and usually very good at it, so I’m hoping he provides some insight in his post-game interview.
Believe it or not, Cleveland actually held a lead at one point in the is game, and it even looked like it could have been a potential blowout akin to their 10-1 thumping of the Cardinals last night. But the bottom half of the first inning happen, four runs scored, and Cleveland’s just ... died.
I don’t know any other way to put it. Did they quit? I hesitate to say an athlete ever “quits,” because that is an extremely harsh thing to say about nine-plus guys putting their bodies on the line to perform the extraordinarily difficult feat of hitting a small round baseball with an equally small stick.
But I don’t know any other way to describe it. They were utterly dominated by 39-year-old Adam Wainwright after the first inning. Not a single batter reached base, and few even looked competitive. They were on auto-pilot for eight innings while the Cardinals trickled a few more runs across the plate. More than once this season we’ve seen Cleveland claw back into games and stay competitive, but more than once we’ve also seen them lose a lead and roll over like they did tonight. It’s always excruciating to watch.
Blake Parker pitched an inning and I barely even remember it. I do remember Cal Quantrill working a full two innings and throwing 41 pitches, though — potentially further stretching his arm for another shot at a start.
Since we are now in an era of monitoring sticky balls, one last thing to consider is some changing spin rates. Since Cleveland had to cycle through so many relievers to finish nine innings, we got to look at quite a few of them, and in turn, how fast they were able to spin them (presumably without the aid of Spider Tack or something similarly sticky to help make the balls really rip).
For starters, Phil Maton — the Patron Saint of having a sky-high spin rate while also not being a great pitcher somehow — only saw a small drop on the average rpm of his four-seamer tonight. The average rpm of the 19 fastballs he threw was 2492, just 25 rotations fewer than his season average. Everything else actually went up. Assuming he’s not just spitting in the face of authority and going elbow deep in a bucket of glue before jogging out to the mound, I think he might just be good at spinning baseballs really, really fast. Ball verdict: Clean.
This is only Blake Parker’s second game this season, but the rpm on his splitter dropped considerably. Still, far too early to make any conclusions, and he’s also 35. If the man wants to get some help, let the man get some help. Ball verdict: Inconclusive, let the man live.
Cal Quantrill saw his average rpm drop on every pitch anywhere from 51 rpm to 93 rpm. Some variance is normal, though, and nothing here looks too out of the ordinary. Looking over a random assortment of some of his old games, this isn’t the first time he’s had an rpm drop across the board in an outing. Maybe there’s something there if he wasn’t getting sticky every single outing, but it’s hard to say. Ball verdict: Inconclusive, but maybe?
And then there’s James Karinchak, who must be sweating Spider Tack through his pores. The average rotation of his fastball dropped from 2450 rpm on the season to 2193 rpm tonight — a 257 rpm difference. His curveball similarly dropped from 2412 on the year to 2201 — a 211 rpm difference. Come on, James. Make an effort to hide it, man. Ball verdict: Ultra Sticky.