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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Meet the exclusive club of big-league pitchers who are likely to be stuck on a career home run forever

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On October 3, 2021, Giants pitcher Logan Webb scored a home run just inside the left field pole at Oracle Park in San Francisco.

Four months later, Major League Baseball announced the arrival of the designated hitter in the National League, making it nearly impossible that the pitcher (not counting Shohei Ohtani) would now have to hit, let alone hit a ball over the fence. .

What will it take for the Mets to send the pitcher to the plate again?

“It must have been a late innings, late in the season where injury was not a factor,” said Buck Showalter.

“We’re out of people,” Taijuan Walker guessed. “Some strange things happen and we need someone to go there.”

But the pitchers aren’t hitting anymore, there are no more pinch hitters for them, meaning the benches are still intact late in the games. There are two other boogeymen who can use their power and force a pitcher to hold a bat: one that has been around forever, one that is ultra-modern.

“Quite a hurt,” shouted Seth Lugo. “That would be bad.”

“COVID everywhere,” added Max Scherzer in a tone, making it abundantly clear he was joking.

Unfortunately for fans who miss seeing out-of-place ballplayers swinging for the fence, the chances of a Met pitcher taking the hack are pretty close to zero.

Hitting coach Eric Chavez said, “I don’t know if we’ll ever send one to hit.” “If we’re in a position where we have to hit the pitcher, that’s a bad situation.”

Walker, Lugo and Shazer are part of an exclusive club. They are three of 41 active pitchers to have scored exactly one home run. Changes in the New Testament have made their chances almost non-existent. While, from an entertainment standpoint, the low pitcher at-bat is a net positive, it ended up being one of the game’s most bizarre attractions.

There are still some active pitchers – Madison Bumgarner, Jack Greinke, Max Fried and Jacob DeGrom Head – who are legitimate hitters. But people like Walker, Lugo and Shazer (who have a collective .161 batting average) admitted that they found their moment of glory through luck.

Walker had the most impressive homer of the Mets’ three one-timers. On July 25, 2017, while playing for the Diamondbacks, Walker took on Braves pitcher Mike Foltyniewicz deep. Like, really deep.

“It was my first game after having my first son,” Walker said. “0-2 Fastball, 97″ [miles per hour], If he had thrown something else, I would have missed the swing. It should have been something else, but it was a fastball right in the middle. I hammock, and next thing I know I’m jogging around bases. People say so, but I really blacked out. it was crazy.”

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The ball flew 455 feet at a speed of 109.9 mph, stunned the crowd at Chase Field, and even the man who couldn’t believe he had actually hit a baseball.

“I knew I liked it, but I kept running, thinking double,” Walker said. “It was green.”

Pitch selection helped him a bit, but nothing could save Walker from the immediate realization that he had to execute the home run trot.

“Really embarrassing,” Walker said of his trot. “I didn’t look good. I wish I could get over this. I’ll do something cool s—t. My hands, I didn’t know what I was doing. It was ugly.”

Lugo, who also had the advantage of a grooved fastball, sent a 104.4 mph laser to the wall of left-center field at Citi Field. His strategy, unlike Walker, who was in the 0-2 hole, was to ambush Rockies pitcher Chris Rusin.

“As a pitcher, moving forward from the innings, you must take the first pitch,” said Lugo. “I’m getting ready to go there, and our hitting coach, Pat Rosler, says this pitcher is like throwing a first pitch fastball right in the middle of the pitchers. Go ahead and let it eat the first pitch.”

The Mets were up 7-0 at the time, adding an air of comfort at the moment, and when Lugo came back into the dugout his teammates gave him the silent treatment. Lugo is also the only member of the Mets threesome to hit his lone dinger without the help of a batting glove.

“I’d just cake the pine tar, and that was enough grip,” Lugo said. “I love the old school look, too.”

The most recent of the three is Scherzer’s Strength, coming out on August 1, 2017. By his account, an ironic factor is most likely responsible for his three-run shot in Miami.

“My neck hurt,” he said. “I hit homer because I couldn’t get my head off the ball. My neck was barking and I was really about to come out of the game, but my spot came up, and while I was there, I hit the first two pitches.” tried to break.

Dusty Baker then ordered a slash, showing Scherzer a bunt before pulling back for a big boy swing. The future Hall of Famer says he had no scouting reports on Marlins pitcher Chris O’Grady, who played only 21 total games in the major leagues.

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“I got lucky, and somehow, by a miracle, I hit a homer,” Scherzer said.

Scherzer was also out of the game after his moon shot, meaning he didn’t have to calm himself down from the adrenaline rush and hit the pitch again. The usually intimidating Scherzer could hardly contain his smile as he circled the bases, probably because that was his favorite part of getting hit.

“I miss to hit,” he said. “I really miss base running more. I like staying on bases, because it added another conditioning element to the start. To pitch on a hot day, run bases, and then back there Go and pitch in, it was a conditioning thing that I was really proud of.

The 37-year-old, self-identified as a 50-grade runner, placed himself right in the middle of baseball’s 20-80 scouting scale.

“I’m ticking off faster than you think,” she said with a wink. “I’m not going to say I’m a burner.”

A common thread among Walker, Lugo and Shazer is their increased confidence in their own hitting abilities. Walker said he gave up hitting when he signed his first contract but “definitely” had some pop as a kid. Lugo led his high school team in home runs as a senior. Scherzer even went as far as to say that he was better at pitching than he was at hitting in high school. Only Walker was brave enough to say he was trying to go to the yard, though.

“Always, 100 percent,” Walker confessed.

The other two humbly described themselves as gap-to-gap, selfless batsmen.

“I’m really the opposite [of Walker],” Shazer revealed. “I was trying to get a base hit, hit the ball the other way around.”

Lugo, who said he was a good banter and would have been better if he hadn’t tried to take the always unhelpful René Rivera to a base, was also going for a simple base hit.

“I take batting drills, swing and miss, pop them up,” he admitted. “I wasn’t even swinging for the fence there. Once I’m in pull mode, I strike out.”

One thing they can agree on is that they all miss hits, especially Walker, who wanted a chance as a left-handed hitter as well. Perhaps to get another shot, the Mets manager says he is very aware of which pitchers on his roster have some offensive power.

“Of course, are you kidding me?” Showalter said, before walking away to manage another game in which pitchers were robbed of any opportunity to hit precious home runs.

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