A Dominating Performance by Kyle McPherson

McPherson pitched seven shutout innings tonight, with six strikeouts.

Kyle McPherson pitched a masterful game on Friday night against the Fort Myers Miracle. McPherson threw three very effective pitches, all with control and got outs (and strikeouts) with all three.

His fastball is his bread and butter, throwing in the 92-94 MPH range all night. As I’ve said before, the Pirates seem to be adamant about moving the fastball around, so the catcher was set up on the inside corner just as much as the more usual spot on the outside part of the plate. McPherson seemed just as comfortable throwing inside as he was going away from hitters.

One of the things that was impressive about tonight was that the umpire refused to give the inside strike for either McPherson or the Miracle pitchers. There were probably 10-12 pitches that I thought were strikes that the umpire ruled were off the plate – about evenly split between McPherson’s pitches and ones thrown to the Marauders. Yet Kyle never seemed phased and just went back to do his job on the next pitch.

McPherson also has a very nice changeup that really looks exactly like the fastball until it drops in the last few feet. The changeup sat around 85 giving a nice differential from the fastball, but not so much as to be obvious as it is leaving the hand.

Kyle’s third pitch, the curve ball, gave him trouble at the beginning of the game but then became more effective than the changeup later. His curve ball sits around 75 and has a nasty bite at the end. It looks like it’s going straight for about 45-50 feet, then takes a left turn (from Kyle’s perspective) and cuts down and in to lefties.

Another impressive note for Kyle is that his first two curve balls resulted in a hit batsman and a wild pitch. Instead of giving up on the pitch, he showed confidence in it. After those first two curves, he controlled it much better, getting swings and misses, a couple called strike 3’s and some weak hits.

McPherson didn’t walk a batter and I believe only went to a 3-ball count twice. His six strikeouts were a variety of swing and miss on high fastballs (2), looking at the curve (2), swinging through the curve (1) and swinging at the changeup (1).

He induced a lot of weak fly balls as well as a couple well hit fly outs. However, the well hit balls were generally on fastballs that the batters were behind and hit to pretty much straight away center. Ironically, the ground balls hit against him were hit harder than the fly balls. The double play ball he got was a rocket one-hopper to Cunningham who didn’t field it cleanly but still had time to turn two. Cole White made two nice plays on hard hit balls.

All in all, McPherson was in total control, not allowing any free passes, pitching ahead on almost every batter and not letting anything phase him on the mound. He really looks like he’s ready to move up, and the way the coaches allowed him to use all his pitches makes me think he might be moved sooner rather than later. I would be surprised if he’s still in Bradenton after mid-May.

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