Yusmeiro Petit’s Almost Perfect Game
Marginal major leaguer Yusmeiro Petit threw a 95 pitch, one-hit shutout today, coming one batter (Eric Chavez hit a line drive with two outs in the ninth that Hunter Pence couldn’t quite catch) from a perfect game. Obviously, Petit’s effort is a surprise, and it’s fair to say that Petit really isn’t perfect game good. Even so, his effort today supports a couple of things I’ve been harping on for a while now.
First, at any given time there are plenty of good players playing in AAA who are one break and one hot streak away from establishing themselves as major league stars. Petit first pitched in the majors at age 21 and was pretty close to establishing himself as a successful major league pitcher through age 24, except for a nasty penchant to give up too many gopher balls.
For years he was a better pitcher than he got credit for. However, pitching in Arizona for the Diamondbacks and in the Pacific Coast League his ERAs were never particularly good, and that fact that he carries extra weight apparently caused the teams that controlled his career not to think of him as a future major league star.
Petit had a fine year with the Fresno Grizzlies in 2012, but the Giants gave him only one late September start. This year, he didn’t pitch nearly as well at AAA Fresno, but the Giants’ sudden demise and injuries have given him the opportunity to return to the Show and show what he can do. After tonight’s masterpiece, he has a 2.05 ERA in 26.1 innings pitched with 20 hits and four walks allowed and 30 Ks.
Petit isn’t really this good. However, there’s at least a chance that Petit, who’s still only age 28, could be the next Ryan Vogelsong or Chad Gaudin — a pitcher the Giants pulled off the scrap heap who suddenly blossoms pitching half his games at pitcher-friendly AT&T Park.
This is the reason why pitching Barry Zito in any remaining game of the 2013 season that isn’t a blowout makes no sense at all. The Giants are out of it and Zito won’t be here next year, but some scrubbini who gets a couple of starts or a handful of relief appearances while Zito rides the pine might actually help the Giants in years to come.
For that reason, I was extremely glad to see that the Giants sat Buster Posey again tonight. Posey has a hair-line fracture in the tip of his ring finger on his throwing hand. Once the swelling goes down, he could play again with the finger still broken, but really what’s the point?
Posey isn’t going to win the batting title or lead the league in any other major offensive category this year. The Giants aren’t going to have a winning season, let alone make the play-offs, whether or not Posey plays. Posey is currently sixth in all of MLB in innings played at catcher this season, so there’s no doubt he could use the rest.
Meanwhile, the Giants have two young catchers in Hector Sanchez and Johnny Monell who could really use the work. Sanchez in particular is a fine young catching prospect. He’s only 23 years old this season, but he’s been limited to 242 professional (majors and minors) plate appearances last season and 214 plate appearances to date this year because he’s been sitting on the Giants’ bench as Posey’s back-up and also because he had an injury earlier this season.
There is basically no question that Sanchez and Monell (a mediocre defensive catcher at best, but he’s hit well throughout his minor league career) need the playing time more than Posey does this September. Sit Posey and Zito and let the youngsters play!