The Toronto Blue Jays have had a secret weapon in their bullpen for over a year; they’ve just been waiting for the right opportunity to unleash it. That day was this past Sunday and their secret weapon was Kendrys Morales.
In the midst of a 9-0 blowout at the hands of the Oakland A’s, John Gibbons told his designated hitter to get ready, because he was going to save the Blue Jays from complete and utter embarrassment.
On rare occasions, position players get into games to pitch, but it’s even more rare to see a designated hitter – albeit, a part-time designated hitter – thrust into action as a pitcher. According to Sportsnet, Morales offered his services as a reliever and was hoping to pitch at some point this year.
Considering how poorly Morales has played as of late, that’s like going to your boss and begging for your job, saying “I’ll do anything, I’ll even clean the toilets and mop the floors!” Right on cue, Morales was called in to mop up Sunday’s mess.
Unlike his plate appearances as of late, Morales didn’t actually embarrass himself out on the mound. Kaitlyn McGrath of The Athletic reported he hasn’t pitched in 16 years, since his days in the Cuban Baseball League.
Ironically enough, Morales’ changeup was his hardest-thrown pitch, as he used a changeup-fastball-slider-curveball mix to sit down three of the four A’s hitters he faced.
Changeup/Fastball | Grade: 40
Statcast tracked the pitch above as a changeup, but the velocity on it was so slow, that this was in fact Morales’ fastball.
Perhaps feeling a few jitters out of the bullpen, the first three pitches Morales threw to Matt Olson were nowhere even close to the plate. But then Kendrys came back with this 83.4 MPH pitch down the heart of the plate.
The few remaining fans at the Rogers Centre erupted in applause after this called first strike. If he wanted to, Olson probably could’ve hit this pitch 500 feet, but nobody wants to be the guy who brags about teeing off on a player who almost never throws off the mound.
Slider | Grade: 35
This was Morales’ “slider” to Stephen Piscotty and it didn’t do very much sliding at all. 2.41 But Piscotty swung at the first pitch and innocently flew out to right field.
Curveball | Grade: 45
This curveball might just be Morales’ out-pitch. Look at the break on that thing! I’m honestly surprised Matt Chapman didn’t offer at it. With two strikes against Chapman, Morales did exactly the right thing and buried this breaking ball down and away.
The fatal flaw with Morales’ curveball is his inability to throw it for strikes. Luke Maile wanted this ball down and tunnelled into the opposing batter’s box. According to Brooks Baseball, this pitch had 7.27 inches of horizontal break and 7.74 inches of vertical break.
Well done, Kendrys. You didn’t hurt yourself and you stopped the bleeding in the midst of what would ultimately be a 9-2 drubbing at the hands of the Oakland A’s.