Efficient. The term popped up in my brain with the regularity Logan Verrett pounds the strike zone as I watched Verrett confuse and befuddle Akron Saturday in Binghamton.
Verrett managed his pitching workload with laser life efficiency throwing two-hit ball over eight innings as the B-Mets toppled Akron, 7-2.
If making good first impressions is a valued introductory tactic, Verrett hit a home run with me. The B-Met righthander was terrific. In fact, about now Verrett might be wondering what all the fuss is about the legendary daunting jump from A to AA ball. The B-Met win leaves Verrett 4-0 on the young campaign with a 2.52 ERA.
I treated my good friend Glen Reynolds, my fantasy baseball partner, to the game. He’s a huge Cleveland Indian fan and was anxious to catch up with the progress of the Tribe’s prospects. Instead, like me, Glen came away singing Verrett’s praises.
Verrett is all business on the hill and works quickly. It would be hard to lose your focus playing behind Verrett with the crisp, down-to-business attitude he takes to the mound. Verrett showcases fluid, repeated mechanics in a compact pitching delivery.
Over eight innings, Verrett pitched to just three batters beyond the minimum. I charted his performance and his statistics are eye-popping. Take a look.
8 Innings Pitched, 2 Runs, 2 Earned Runs, 2 Hits, 1 BB, 7 K
Total Pitches: 93 – Strikes: 67 (63%) - Balls: 26 (37%)
Fastball: Strikes 34 (67%) – Balls 17 (33%)
Slider: Strikes 10 (100%)
Change: Strikes 15 (62%) – Balls 9 (38%)
Fastball: Strikes 5 (100%)
Slider: Strikes 2 (100%)
Change: Strikes 1 (100%)
First Pitch Strikes
16 of 27 (59%)
Verrett threw first pitch off-speed pitches 9 of 27 times, 8 of 19 after the first two innings.
Fastball: 87 – 92
Sliders: 83 – 86
Change: 80 – 83
Admittedly, I struggle delineating the break on the slider, old eyes I guess. It really doesn’t matter. The critical point is Verrett uses his off-speed pitches effectively to disrupt opposing hitter’s timing and from behind the plate all Verrett’s pitches appear to be delivered from the same arm slot with a similar delivery. Throughout the first two innings, Verrett established his fastball mastery of the strike zone. As the game wore on, especially when he pitched to Aeros power hitters in the middle of the line-up, the B-Met ace threw more and more off-speed stuff.
Akron’s only runs came via the long ball. Catcher Chris Wallace opened the second inning with a line drive that just cleared the wall in left field. A Ronny Rodriguez triple with one out in the fifth set up the Aeros second run. Rodriquez scored on Giovanny Urshela‘s sacrifice fly.
Pitch selection to Urshela was my only confusion throughout the game. In his first at bat, Verrett made Urshela look bad, striking out waving feebly at three straight sliders. With a runner on third and one out I expected Verrett to milk the same pitch, but he served up two fastballs, the second the sac fly to center.
The B-Mets scored single runs in each of the first four innings then busted the game open with three runs in the sixth. After far to many strikeouts on Friday night, the B-Mets fanned only three times and pounded out 13 hits.
Binghamton centerfielder, Alonzo Harris, got off to a sizzling start blasting a leadoff homerun and never stopped cooking. Harris delivered a quality at bat almost every time he stepped to the plate. In his second plate appearance, Harris sent a screaming line drive up the middle that was slowed down when it glanced off pitcher Matt Packer‘s shoulder just enough for Areos second baseman Jose Ramirez to backhand the ball and catch Harris at first by a whisker. Harris walked the third time he batted then the speedy outfielder legged out and infield single on the tenth pitch of his fourth plate appearance. Harris hit into a first pitch fielders choice in his final at bat.
Harris’s contributions weren’t limited only to his bat. He made six fly ball putouts in centerfield, tracking down one blast to make a running grab in left-center. A B-Met note; Harris is hitting .287 with 10 stolen bases at the top of the B-Met batting order.
Darrell Ceciliani, the Binghamton rightfielder who bats second, went 3 for 5 with a double, stolen base and an RBI. The stolen base was Ceciliani’s 7th, giving the B-Mets promising base running speed to set the table for the power guys.
B-Met catcher Blake Forsythe stayed hot going 2 for 4 with a double and sacrifice fly.
Binghamton showed great plate discipline at times. Cory Vaughn showed patience when Aeros pitchers nibbled. Vaughn walked three times. Daniel Kuno walked twice, one free pass at the end of a ten pitch at bat.
Wilfredo Tovar probably should have used a bit more patience when he came to the plate with the bases loaded, no outs and the game tied 1-1 in the second. Packer was struggling allowing back-to-back singles to Forsythe and Francisco Pena then walked Daniel Muro. The Aeros starter entered the game with a 1.70 WHIP putting the pressure squarely on Packer’s back. Tovar hit a hard first pitch ground ball into a 6-4-3 double play plating a run but killing the chance for a big rally. Tovar later redeemed himself with a hard double to the gap in left-center and made a sterling diving defensive stop, springing to his feet to just get a speedy Tyler Holt at first.
The defensive players of the game though were Jose Ramirez and Holt of Akron. Ramirez flashed some awesome leather that even left B-Met fans amazed. He robbed Harris of the second inning screamer up the middle, turned a potential run scoring Allan Dykstra ground single to a 4-1 putout, then in Binghamton’s last at bat used a backhand stab to take a hit away from Lucas near the second base bag.
Holt made a stunning running grab on Forsythe’s sacrifice gapper, killing a big B-Met rally when he doubled Lucas off second base in the third inning. The following inning, Holt snared Tovar’s smash in the opposite gap with a bare hand denying the Binghamton shortstop a triple.
But, the day belonged to Verrett as he continues to prove that great pitching isn’t all about velocity.