Nerd of Batman, sports, logic, objectivity, Star Trek, personal enlightenment, Lincoln, the Rays, psychology, mic dropping. Kind've in that order.
Danny Salazar has an electrifying fastball. We knew that going into last night's AL Wild Card game.
Salazar in 52 Major League innings was striking out over 11 batters per 9 innings.
In AAA he was at 11.83 per 9, and at AA Salazar was at an astounding 13.63 per 9.
Salazar's regular fastball velocity at 96.9, was more than Matt Harvey, Stephen Strasburg and Jose Fernandez.
Salazar whipped through the first six Rays hitters with 3 blazing strikeouts. Then, on Salazar's 22nd pitch and the first to notorious October hero Delmon Young said, enough of that, and slammed out a Salazar fastball. That was about to be the end of the Indians postseason.
I wonder if the Indians expected their rookie to get through the Rays lineup more than once with just one truly effective pitch, that fiery fastball. Just one pitch? Essentially yes. Salazar threw his fastball 68.5% of the time. If he'd qualified for the leaders board, that would've been the sixth most % of fastballs thrown behind Colon, Masterson, Lynn, Shelby Miller and Wade Miley.
After Young, the next 4 Rays made outs, and with 1 out in the top of the 4th, the rout was about to be on. As Salazar inched through the Tampa lineup, more and more Ray hitters were getting to his fastball. Initially fouling away pitches, but then eventually an array of hits followed.
In all, Salazar threw 67 pitches. The Rays fouled off 14 of them.
For context, Alex Cobb threw 107 pitches, and just 12 were fouled off.
A time through the lineup and the Rays had sized up Salazar, and had enough runs, enough Cobb and enough bullpen to secure the Wild Card win.
The graph below is from Brooksbaseball.net where you can view just about any pitching detail you'd like. The link will take you to Salazar's full night, but below you can see the dark reds in the upper part of the strikezone. I suspect most of those happened as the Rays turned through the lineup, in the process of tracking Salazar's fastball.