(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)
Welcome to The Anatomy of Filth, where we’ll dissect filthy pitches two frames at a time: where the pitch begins and where the pitch ends.
We’ll begin with reigning AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, all of 32 years old and looking ‘peak’ as ever.
Sure, this dazzling performance (pitch score 90) came against the lowly Detroit Tigers, but any big league offense still consists of nine of the best hitters on the planet.
Final line: 8 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 13 K, 103 pitches.
Kluber cremates Candelario
It’s the top of the first inning and Kluber is already locked in. After showing Candelario (sent to Detroit for Alex Avila) two sliders, he starts this pitch well off the inside corner. It takes Jaimer a lifetime’s worth of accumulated discipline to not chase this apparent slider in the dirt… but surprise! It’s a filthy two-seamer that runs back across the plate like eggs over toast. Filthy. No breakfast for Candelario.
Kluber confounds Cabrera
This isn’t Kluber’s best work, but he defeats Miggy with a slide-piece just off the outside corner. The movement seduces the umpire with the illusion of a strike, and Cabrera is left confounded.
Kluber mutilates McCann
Here, McCann gets to try some of what Jaimer is having. Turns out he doesn’t like it much. Undistracted by the giant hot dog in the background, Kluber starts this two-seamer well outside before it gently caresses the outside corner.
Kluber maws Mahtook
It’s a buffet of two-seam fastballs and the Tigers are hating every second of it. Mahtook’s instincts scream “lay off!” but freaky physics decide his forlorn fate. He Mahtook strike three.
Kluber incinerates Iglesias
Unless you’re blessed with Tony Gwynn’s vision, there’s no telling if this is a 2-seamer about to tail back over the plate or a slider about to drop off into the dirt. Iglesias guesses wrong, and he walks solemnly back from whence he came.
Let’s compare part 1 of this sequence (slider) with part 1 of the above Mahtook sequence (fastball):
Virtually indistinguishable. That, folks, is how you win two Cy Young awards.
Kluber colonizes Castellanos
You can see from Castellanos new and improved stance (here it is last year) that he is incorporating a more all-fields approach. Still, this Kluber two-seamer leaves him hapless. Even with an opposite-field mindset, this pitch begins too far outside. Until it isn’t. Goodnight, Nicholas.
Kluber minces Machado (or Kluber defiles Dixon)
At this point, it’s just mean, Corey. I’m not sure someone could graze the strike box more perfectly if they walked the ball to the plate.
Miller cleaves Candelario
“Oh thank Heavens! They took Kluber out!” said Jaimer, right before seeing the gangly Andrew Miller stride toward the rubber. This bender begins at the “o” in Bargain Outlet and ends right at the knees. Turns out facing Cleveland is no fun at all.