In high school, we had a drama teacher who was extremely deliberate in his speech. It was an intentional choice, as he had been taught that the best way to ensure listeners understood you was to speak at a consistent pace. Unfortunately, he had somehow been informed that the preferred pace was 60 words per minute. Despite a deep and resonant pitch that could put Roman Mars to shame, this made listening to him excruciating, as his sentences often had a clear trajectory, and we could easily finish his sentences for him, yet he refused to alter his pace, interjecting pregnant pauses when he felt himself speaking too quickly. Everyone assembled knew what he was going to say, and the seconds we spent waiting for him to conclude those inevitabilities felt like lifetimes wasted.
That is what watching Cory Gearrin pitch felt like.
Gearrin’s reasoning for his ponderousness is sound - he doesn’t throw all that hard and his motion relies on deception. He is a stolen base waiting to happen, and could be an easy mark for hitters. Every bit of discomfort he can place in the minds of hitters and baserunners is more vital to him than most pitchers, and is the difference between employment and free agency for him. Good on him for his craftiness, I hope for only the best for him with the Yankees, and I look forward to not watching his performance art again this season.
Gearrin’s departure to the Bronx is apt, as he’ll be replaced by Justus Sheffield to start tonight’s game. You know the story for Sheff this year: jewel of the James Paxton trade, struggled in AAA before we realized quite how bad the juiced ball had made the PCL for prospects of every level (see: Whitley, Forrest), got right in a big way back in AA-Arkansas. His poor results and lack of command in AAA are true concerns, but how do we weight those struggles when there are only two qualified pitchers in the entire PCL with ERA under 4.00 and just one with an FIP under 5.00? The league-wide ERA is 5.55, with 3.9 BB/9 the mean. While Sheffield was worse than both numbers he’s been dramatically better in process and pudding in his AA reset.
Where does that leave the 23 year old? It’s hard to say. His slider and changeup have been more consistent, alongside sharper fastball command, but he’ll have to do it with the juiced ball again against the Blue Jays fleet of young talents. Between tonight and tomorrow we’ll have a glimpse of the Mariners’ future and a bittersweet return of the past and present in two of the most interesting games of the season.
Seattle’s 40-man roster is now at 37 players.