This just shows you how long it’s been since I’ve written an actual post. Since I charted (if you’ve read the article, you know it was ‘charting’ in name only) Evan Smith‘s last home start I haven’t managed to see another pitch of Vancouver Canadians baseball. I was back in action Monday night though and wouldn’t you know it, so was Smith.
In between the viewings, the 6’5″ lefty had two pretty ordinary outings on the road, giving up eight earned over seven and a third with his three walks matching the strikeout total. In fact, take away those two shutout starts in mid-July and Evan’s season hasn’t been overly great. Was curious to see if he could bounce back at the Nat.
If you were following me on twitter during the game you may remember that I fell prey to some chicken strips and fries during the 7th inning and may not have gotten the pitch count exactly right.
The chicken fingers ruined my count of Evan Smith, but he’s back out for the 8th on approx 80 pitches…
— Charlie Caskey (@CharlieCaskey) August 11, 2015
The raw numbers:
|Running Pitch Count||FBs||Curves||Change|
The line can be taken two ways. Positives can definitely be drawn from how efficient Smith was, with the 18 pitch 3rd his highest of the evening, 9 of which were taken up by the one walk of the evening to Everett’s 9-hole hitter Conner Hale. You could also question the decision to send him out for the 8th. Takeaway that leadoff home run and he’s thrown seven innings of one run ball.
On the flip side, Smith was bailed out by both great defence and shambolic base-running all night. Catcher Ryan Hissey threw out two would be thieves at second while Carl Wise made two nice plays at third.
Sox centerfielder Braden Bishop had a shocker, making two A ball base-running errors, getting doubled off at first after forgetting the number of outs and then breaking for home in the 9th on a a sharply hit grounder to a drawn in Wise at third. He was dead at home.
So ya, there was a lot to like about the start but if you want to sit on the fence, a lot of the outs made were loud, especially early. Speaking of which.
Smith has got some natural cut to his fastball, when the Aquasox were making solid contact in the 2nd, it was the first time he’d started to come into the righties and he just wasn’t getting on top of the pitch. After that he started to put it in better spots, where the Sox would either roll over on it or swing over.
The changeup only started coming out in the 3rd and like his other pitches, there were some good and some not so good. I noticed some slowing of the arm on a few, which was confirmed by the scout sitting in front of me. They also had inconsistent movement, with a few flashing nice arm-side run while others broke almost like a cutter. When he missed it was generally up, never a great sign.
I’m going to quote C’s pitching coach Jim Czajkowski from the previous article when discussing Smith’s breaking ball:
“It’s a slider, when he gets it across the plate it’s harder. When he misses it, it’s much slower. There’s something about his fingers when he releases, he sometimes doesn’t pull down on it and will miss up and away to a righty and away in to a lefty. When he throws it well and down, they’re hard.”
Reason I ran this quote again is because that is exactly what was happening Monday. He’d float a few cement mixers in that, luckily, didn’t get crushed while also throwing some that had tight spin and late, hard break.
All in, and to carry on the theme of inconsistency, I wasn’t as impressed with the start as the line should have dictated. If he starts to locate all three of his pitches while moving his fastball down and away, getting on top of his slider and generating arm-side run on the change, we may have something here.
But how many times have we said that about projectable lefties? Easier said than done.