There is an ugly truth about baseball in September: rosters expand, talent dilutes, top young pitchers shut down to preserve their virginal arms. It doesn’t jibe with the hope-flavoured yearnings of hardcore baseball fans, all ready to jump on the Next Big Thing’s hot cameo as proof-positive that he’s ready for the show.
It’s sad but it is true. Don’t believe me? Two pitchers made their seasonal debuts with new teams in the National League last night. They pitched well, effectively even. Their names? Dana Eveland and Miguel Batista.
Journeyman weirdo Miguel Batista started for the Mets at Citifield last night, throwing six workmanlike innings of six hit, three strikeout ball. It was just Batista’s second start of the season, his first since an aborted April start in which he was put a pawn in Tony LaRussa’s elaborate war against the weather.
Batista hasn’t started regularly in the Majors since 2008, when he was awful for the Mariners. He walked more than he struck out in 115 glorious innings that season, giving up 19 home runs in the process. Yet there he was, back in the big leagues for the first time since June, mowing down my beloved Mike Stanton and the last-place Marlins.
Meanwhile, in Lotus Land, Dana Eveland took the hill for the sadsack Dodgers against the rotting hulk of the Good Ship Pirate. Eveland twirled EIGHT INNINGS, allowing but a single run on six hits. He struck out three Buccaneers and surrendered zero walks. Zero.
This was Eveland’s 2011 début after spending the entire season with the Dodges Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque. Eveland actually made a reasonable account of himself in the PCL, which makes me wonder if soft-tossing lefties draw strength from the San Andreas Fault line. Belly-high 85 mph fastballs are the Spirit Animal of the Pacific Coast League.
Eveland hadn’t pitched in the Major Leagues since June of last year! Please bear this in mind when David Cooper comes up and swings a reasonable enough bat that you start to wonder if he might push Adam Lind for the Jays first base job next season.