Thursday, March 17, 2011
Maya: Where's the heat?
It appears the Washington Nationals may have been duped on their Cuban import.
Yunesky Maya, the Cuban defector who the Nats signed last year to a 4 year, 8 million dollar deal, was reported to feature a fastball that ran from 90-93 MPH along with an assortment of breaking pitches that had helped Maya dazzle Cuban hitters to the tune of a career record of 48-29 and an ERA of 2.51.
In 2010, Maya made five brief starts with the Nats, featuring a fastball that averaged out at 88.7 MPH; far below the 90-93 that was expected out of the 29 year old. To put his "fastball" into context, if Maya had managed to pitch the amount of innings needed to qualify for rate statistics, his fastball would have been the 16th slowest in all of baseball among Starting Pitchers.*
That is why, with great concern, that Maya's start against the Braves tonight needs to be looked at in greater detail. During the fifth inning of his outing, Maya topped out on his fastball at 85 MPH, most of his pitches sitting in the 81-83 MPH range. Quite simply, a right handed pitcher cannot survive with a fastball that slow, regardless if Livan Hernandez did it last year. Livo has an excellent two-seam fastball and a slow breaking curve that kept hitters on their toes enough to keep them from teeing off on Livan's pedestrian fastball.
So that brings us back to Maya. Where has his fastball gone? How can someone lose 3-5 MPH off their fastball and only be 30 years old? Is Maya hiding an injury (not likely), or, is it a case of the Nationals seeing a scouting report and choosing to believe it as gospel?
That's not to say that Maya has not held his own this Spring Training. In fact, quite the opposite. Yunesky has posted a 3.28 ERA while striking out 10 K in just 13.2 IP. While the Spring Training success is something Maya should be happy with, it remains to be seen if the lack of heat on his fastball will end up hurting him in the long run.
Yunesky Maya, a pitcher on the cusp of breaking out, or a case of false advertising? Only time will tell.
* - A total of 91 Starting Pitchers qualified for rate statistics in 2010
Posted by David Lint at 7:29 PM