Mystery pitch for Zumaya?
Joel Zumaya says he has a new pitch that he’s developing and hopes to unveil shortly, a tease that might result in nothing more than a show pitch or could represent an effort to further expand his pitch selection. As it is, his current fastball-curveball combination seems to be working nicely so far.
As excited as Zumaya gets about a big strikeout, he seemed more excited about the double play he induced to erase the Indians’ seventh-inning scoring opportunity Friday. It wasn’t the triple-digit fastball he’s been powering all week, but a 98 mph fastball with some movement, which Mike Redmond pounded up the middle for rookie second baseman Scott Sizemore to start the twin-killing.
With that, the two walks with which the inning began resulted in nothing. Zumaya bounded off the mound and pumped his fist.
“A double play doesn’t come too often with me,” he said, “but it’s just as good as a strikeout — a BIG strikeout, bases loaded, two outs. That double play was kind of exciting for me. I didn’t quite try to show excitement, but I was kind of pleased that I got a big double play right there.”
For what it’s worth, Zumaya has been inducing more ground balls than fly balls, based mainly on his inning of work on Opening Day Monday at Kansas City. He has just two strikeouts so far, but that’s not a problem for him so far.
He’s looking for outs, and he’s looking for results out of a mix of pitches. He was pretty much all fastballs in his first inning Friday, then had more of a mix when he came back out for the eighth. He’s also mixing in two-seamers with his four-seam fastball to try to get more balls on the ground.
“In ’06, I was known to be a thrower,” Zumaya said. “I was going to just rear back and try to throw it as hard as I can past hitters. I’ve got a breaking ball that I’ve been working on really hard and it’s coming along really good. I’ve got another pitch that I’ve been working on. I’m not going to spill it to you guys just yet, but when you see it you’re going to ask me what the heck it was. And I’ve just been trying to locate my fastball in pretty good spots — in, out, 0-2, rise the ladder. It’s working to my advantage right now.”
That new pitch isn’t a cutter, Zumaya said, and we can safely say it’s not a knuckleball. After that, it’s anybody’s guess.