Not even a vintage James Karinchak implosion could ruin this game. Try as he might, the Guardians just kept tacking on runs and finally laying down clutch hits when they needed them. For their efforts, they were rewarded with a 7-4 win over the Miami Marlins.
If Logan Allen truly is the beginning of the next wave of arms, as Terry Francona put it earlier this week, the Guardians are gonna be alright. Everyone can breathe. Allen was incredible today in his MLB debut, and more importantly, he showed signs that he has the discipline and ability to do it again. And again. And again.
Mechanically, Allen came out as sound as could be. He pounded the zone from first-pitch, worked at a blistering pace that kept hitters off balance, and was able to almost perfectly replicate his release point every pitch — down to the inch. All that combined with a coiled windup and release that does everything it can to hide his release point until the last possible second, and it becomes clear how a guy who is lucky to hit 95 mph with his fastball had such high strikeout rates coming up through the minors. Sure, his pitches themselves are nice, but it’s the little secondary things to create the deception that he can use to his advantage.
Allen has a long way to go of course, and it was only one good rookie start, but it cannot be overstated how good of a debut it was. By the end of his six innings, he recorded eight strikeouts (the most by any Guardians starter this season), with just one walk and an earned run on a solo homer.
Digging a little deeper, Allen threw his four-seamer 46 times, split-changeup 23 times, his sweeping slider nine times, and he sprinkled in his new-ish cutter eight times. Combined, all four of his pitches induced 17 whiffs, the majority coming from his four-seamer which never exceeded 93.7 mph. He did allow a few hard-hit balls — including a third-inning home run against Jon Berti — but six of the 11 balls hit over 88 mph were drilled straight into the ground. He had the Marlins lineup twist-turned-upside down for the most part.
And how could he not? Take the picture-perfect release point ...
... combine it with the sporadic movement of all of his pitches ...
... and you get some Very Large Confused Dudes swinging way late on third strikes.
Logan Allen, K'ing the Side.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 23, 2023
8Ks thru 6. pic.twitter.com/bwjS48SkfZ
So many of Allen’s 17 swings and misses were on the edge of the zone, too. He was simply out there painting today.
Allen came out of the gate aggressive and didn’t slow down until he was in the dugout for the final time. He faced 27 batters and did not see a single 3-0 count, and only one 3-1 count. In the future, as teams review the tape and catch on to his aggressiveness, he will probably see a lot more first-pitch swings, which could be an issue. However, while he may have thrown 14 first-pitch four-seamers tonight, that deadly split-changeup was mixed in there as well. He also didn’t use his cutter much at all tonight, maybe that’s a good setup pitch down the road. Both could be something to lean on when teams start to key him up a little better. Point being, the man has options.
All I want to do is talk about Logan Allen from now until the end of time, but the offense deserves their fair share of credit today, too. Not only for their initial rally in the third inning but also for adding on insurance runs late when Karinchak laid an egg on the mound.
José Ramírez sparked the initial run-fest with a 424-home run, his third of the season. That was the second hardest-hit ball of the game at 106.8 mph (the hardest being Avisail Garcia off of Karinchak, because of course it was), and he also had the third hardest with his eighth-inning, 106.2 mph double. It would have been a little more encouraging for José’s long-term success if he hammered some off-speed pitches, but you also can’t hate mashing some meatball fastballs right in his nitro zone, low and in the middle of the plate.
Josh Bell and Josh Naylor both got it going as well. Bell had three hits, including a double, and Naylor looked like he might have figured something out against left-handed pitchers, racking up two hits off of them today and drawing a walk off of a right-handed reliever. He even stole a base standing up, which is not something I thought I would ever see.
Speaking of things I thought I would never see, Amed Rosario finished a home run shy of the cycle — and he almost got it in his final at-bat. All told he put five balls in play today, and not one was hit weaker than 95.7 mph.
This was fun, and if it is only the beginning of the next wave, I can’t wait to see what (and more importantly who) that brings.