You’re the manager and you have your team in the lead by one run, in Game 7 of the World Series, one out, and two men in scoring position. It is an 0-2 count but your pitcher gets injured on the previous pitch causing you to chose one pitcher to essentially throw one pitch in order to sit, let us say it is Derek Jeter (from the previous situational article) down. All technicalities aside (double play or a pitcher needing to warm up) which arm are you alluding to as you walk towards the mound in order to make a change?
This article is more for the most devastating strikeout pitch ever and less about the situation but bear (bare?) with me. Notice I said “strikeout pitch” therefore although Mariano Rivera’s cutter is one of, if not the most devastating, it also led to groundouts and a groundout doesn’t help me here. Same with those pitchers like Greg Maddux or Derek Lowe that relied on a sinker. Also, I’m going to try my best to use pitchers or pitches that I have seen with my own eyeballs, hence disqualifying Christy Mathewson’s infamous screwball, and Satchel Paige’s hesitation pitch.
There are obviously an insane amount of options and most likely an insane amount of pitches that will give you the outcome that you want. You could send Aroldis Chapman out to the mound and order up his 105 mph fastball, or you could send all-time strikeout leader Nolan Ryan and hope he continues his legacy as perhaps the greatest strikeout pitcher ever. Personally, I’m not sending a pure fastball pitcher onto the mound mostly due to the fact that it will be entirely too predictable.
I’m sending a pitcher with an astounding fastball paired with a great secondary pitch in order to keep the batter guessing and uncomfortable. You could take your chances with Rip Sewell’s Eephus or Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball but their respective track records make me uncomfortable (cries on the inside). For those who don’t know, Ted Williams knocked Rip Sewell’s Eephus into another county during the 1946 All Star Game.
You know I have to put the Wakefield gif here, sorry in advance. FAIR WARNING Red Sox fans cover your eyes.
Seriously, close your eyes and skip this, please.
Okay, whatever, you scrolled, not me.
Going back to my pitchers with overwhelming fastballs paired with marquee secondary pitches, three names that come to mind are Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and Roger Clemens.
3. Pedro Martinez
Pedro was like no other, simply in a league of his own during his prime. Don’t believe me? Go watch the 1999 All Star Game. I don’t really think I even need to finish my argument for Pedro but I will anyways. Martinez struck out five of the first six batters he faced during the height of the Steroid Era facing bats like Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Larry Walker using his fastball, curveball and unmatched circle-changeup. If I were sending Pedro to the bump to get one strike, I’m advising him to throw that circle-changeup which was known for embarrassing batters.
2. Roger Clemens
Roger Clemens is my favorite player of all-time, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and this hurts not picking him to win the World Series for me but I’ll get over it once I see that ring. Clemens used a, well for lack of a better adjective, fast fastball with a knee buckling curveball and most importantly a split-fingered fastball to rack up 4,672 strikeouts over his career. Twice striking out 20 batters in one game, and being third on the all-time strikeout leader board. “The Rocket” is a no brainer to be in the discussion to get the ball, hopefully throwing his split-fingered fastball.
1. Randy Johnson
The Big Unit’s blistering fastball along with his masterful slider led him to five Cy Young awards trailing only Roger Clemens (7) and second on the all-time strikeout list behind Nolan Ryan. Leveraging his 6’10’’ frame to generate unprecedented velocity and movement on his pitchers, Johnson confused batters left and right (kind of pun intended (lefty and righty batters) get it?) throughout his 22 year career. As the manager in this situation I’m tapping my left arm as I walk out to the mound and I’m calling none other than Randy Johnson to solidify that jewelry on my finger.
Agree with my list? If not, let me know who you would pick.
Picture from Wikipedia
Gif from MLB.com