When a position player takes the mound late in a lopsided game, it's usually a brief moment of levity during an otherwise miserable night (assuming, of course, the emergency hurler doesn't blow out his arm trying to throw the fastest recorded pitch in major league history, a la Jose Canseco). Unlike Jose, White Sox outfielder Casper Wells and Dodgers utility man Skip Schumaker didn't embarrass themselves on the bump -- both threw a scoreless inning yesterday, and both showed low-90s velocity to boot. Given the struggles of their teammates who actually get paid to pitch, you couldn't blame Wells and Schumaker for wondering, "What's so hard about this, guys? Here's a closer look at their impressive emergency outings.
Casper Wells: 1 IP, 1 K, 1 BB, 0 H, 0 ER vs. Indians
Like a ghostly apparition, Casper is often in a major league clubhouse one second and gone the next. The former Tigers farmhand has passed through Seattle, Toronto, Oakland and the South Side -- just this season. If the whole hitting thing doesn't pan out, the former two-way star at Towson showed he could have a future on the mound.
Wells threw 13 fastballs out of 16 total pitches, averaging 89.8 MPH and topping out at 93.4 MPH. He also tossed in two changeups and a nasty 84 MPH breaking ball on the inside corner that Cleveland's Asdrubal Cabrera swung over for strike three. Wells mostly buzzed Indians hitters with high heat, throwing 11 pitches (69 percent) in the upper third of the strike zone.
Casper Wells' pitch location vs. Indians on 6/28/13
Skip Schumaker: 1 IP, 1 K, 2 BB, 1 H, 0 ER vs. Phillies
While Wells is a mop-up pitching neophyte, Schumaker is a grizzled veteran. Last night's outing was Schumaker's third pitching appearance in the majors, as he also faced the Dodgers while with St. Louis on August 23, 2011 (1 IP, 2 K, 1 BB, 1 H, 2 ER) and the Rockies earlier this year on April 29 (1 IP, 0 K, 1 BB, 2 H, 0 ER).
Schumaker doesn't have Wells' formal pitching pedigree -- he made just a handful of appearances while in college at Loyola Marymount and UC Santa Barbara -- but he showed plenty of zip last night, too. He threw 15 fastballs out of 24 total pitches, sitting at 89.4 MPH and reaching 91.1 MPH. Skip struck out Philly's Humberto Quintero swinging on a 90 MPH four-seamer thrown belt high and over the middle of the plate. That's gotta wound a hitter's ego, no? Schumaker also scared the bejesus out of John Mayberry Jr. with 91 MPH heater thrown high and inside.
His secondary weapon was a changeup with good separation from his fastball (80.1 MPH average), and he tossed a pair of high 60s-low-70s curveballs as well. You know, just so the position player with experience at all three outfield spots and second base and a 90 MPH fastball could show he's not a one-trick pony.
Skip Schumaker's pitch location vs. Phillies on 6/28/13