Yordano Ventura's starts are becoming appointment television.
The fastball that tickles triple digits. The biting change. The power curve. Pick your poison, opposing hitters. You have next to no chance. Especially if you're foolish enough to go up from the right side. Same side hitters own a cumulative slash line of .167/.189/.278 against Ventura in his small sample size. Hell, it's tough from the left side. They are hitting just .194/.280/.356 against him. He picked up his first major league "win" on Tuesday in a performance that was by turns dominating and filthy.
Let's break it down. The numbers are courtesy of Brooks Baseball.
Ventura threw 101 pitches in seven innings, 66 of them for strikes. For me, one of the more impressive things about this start was his economy of pitches. More on that in a moment. There were times he faltered. Like the three walks or the home run. The errant pickoff throw in the first was foolish and we can chalk that up to a rookie mistake. The key is Ventura never faltered. He always seemed in control; a couple of pitches away from closing out an inning. The cool thing is you knew Ventura had those pitches to get out of the inning.
He threw 46 four-seam fastballs and averaged 98.3 mph. The Astros swung at 20 of those fastballs and missed four times.
Pitch F/X is again classifying a pitch that looks like his change as a straight fastball. It recorded this pitch nine times. According to Brooks, it averaged 89.4 mph. The interesting data from this one is that the Astros swung at this pitch six times and missed four.
Ventura also mixed in a cut fastball 16 times at an average of 95.9 mph. Such a weapon with a vertical break that is almost double his four-seam fastball. He threw this pitch 16 times and got 10 strikes - all of them were courtesy of swings from Astro batters. EDIT: It looks like Brooks reclassified some of the pitches. It now has Ventura throwing four cut fastballs. They also updated the total number of straight fastballs.
That lovely power change was featured 27 times. Ventura got six swings and misses with it. His average velocity on his change was 87.4 mph.
He threw 13 curves at an average of 83.6 mph. He gave up two hits on his curve, both singles. The other two hits (the Dexter Fowler double in the first and the Carlos Corporan home run in the fifth) were on fastballs.
Here is his velocity graph from the game.
He faced 28 batters and threw 20 first-pitch strikes.
The Astros put the first ball in play six times.
-- Chris Carter popped out on a 97 mph fastball in the first.
-- Robbie Grossman flied out to center on a 94 mph cutter in the fifth.
-- Alex Pressley fouled out on a 97 mph fastball in the sixth.
-- Matt Dominguez singled on an 84 mph curve in the seventh.
-- Carlos Corporan grounded out on a 98 mph fastball in the seventh.
-- Dexter Fowler grounded out on an 88 mph change in the seventh.
The Astros weren't exactly patient at the plate, but they really started hacking in Ventura's final inning. The Fowler ground out to end the inning came following a walk and pitching coach visit to the mound. Thank you very much.
In the second inning, Ventura retired three Astros on eight pitches. And that was with two strikeouts. So hot. I particularly enjoyed the sequencing on the strikeouts.
Three different pitches in three different locations? Can't blame Grossman for swinging. Can't blame him for not putting it in play, either.
Again, three pitches and three swings. That curve was just a thing of beauty. Corporan had zero chance up there. It wasn't a fair fight. But it was damn fun to watch.
I don't know about you guys, but these Yordano Ventura starts make me giddy. It's a different feeling from Zack Greinke back in the day. Greinke was (is) a pitching savant. The guy can seemingly make the ball do almost anything he wants. Ventura is different. Pure power. Heat. Pitching porn for the radar gun crowd. To compare them at this point in Ventura's career is overthinking it.
His next start is Sunday at home against the Twins. I suggest you start searching for tickets.