Astros: Justin Verlander and Forrest Whitley in mid-season form?
On a bright sunny afternoon Justin Verlander and Forrest Whitley took the mound for the Astros, and although they had limited pitches it was fun to watch.
Justin Verlander, the elder statesman and now leader of the Astros‘ pitching staff, worked some good counts, got one strikeout in 2 innings sitting down Michael Conforto on a swinging third strike. Forrest Whitley followed by striking out three in two innings, he looked really good and seemed to have the poise of a seasoned veteran. Neither of them allowed a hit, and both discussed after the game what they were looking for in their pitches as well as how newer pitches were responding.
You hear terms baseball players use and I am sure many out there aren’t aware of all of the baseball lingo. Verlander said he wanted to work on his “up and downs”. What pitchers are talking about is when they come off the field to sit in the dugout between innings, and how they respond when they have to get back up onto the field. Surely many reading this know, but the average fan may not, I thought it a good reminder to think about these things.
When Alyson Footer interviewed Verlander he was asked what he was working on and he said “I was pleased to see 94, 95 [mph] the first inning,” Verlander said. “Then the second inning, I just kind of backed down a little bit, trying to feel the game a little bit. Overall, a good day.” When you can give that kind of detailed feedback you know you are speaking to a veteran, a future Hall of Famer.
Forrest Whitley “I was getting in the zone when I needed to, I was getting it down when I needed to,” Whitley said. “I didn’t get a whole lot of swings and misses, but I did exactly what I wanted to do. Overall, I was pretty happy with that pitch.” He talked about having big shoes to fill as he acknowledged the status that Verlander holds. I wonder what these two pitchers discussed between innings?
Whitley has 239 K’s in only 163.1 innings in his three minor league seasons and holds down a 13.2 K/9 ratio, while holding down an ERA of 3.28.
With all this being the first week of Astros’ Spring Training, it may be early, but I am sure this is a glimpse of things to come. Whitley will more than likely start in Corpus or Round Rock and be a late season call up, while Verlander hopes to be in mid-season form by opening day, as he was last year. Regardless of when Whitley joins the ball club, he certainly has the poise and seems ready to take on the responsibility of a major league pitcher.