The Big Read: Matt Harvey and the power of the pitching phenom

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In today’s Big Read, Joe Posnanski takes a look at Matt Harvey’s impressive start to his major league career and the idea of pitching phenoms in general. In doing so, Posnanski turns back the clock to examine some other pitchers who dominated early on in their careers, including Steve Rogers, Mark Fidrych, Fernando Valenzuela, Dwight Gooden and Hideo Nomo. It’s a fun ride.

So, when a young pitcher shows up like Matt Harvey with insane fastballs and exploding sliders … there’s something magical about it. Something unlimited. A quarterback, even a perfect one, needs receivers, an offensive line, a running game, a shrewd offensive coordinator. A basketball player, no matter how good, cannot take on five defenders at a time. A pitcher, though, has the ball. He is only limited by the imagination.

And so every time a Hideo Nomo or Dwight Gooden or Matt Harvey shows up on the scene, the possibilities are endless. In many ways, I’ve marked my baseball life by the pitching phenoms who kept showing up.

Great stuff, as always. Speaking of pitching phenoms, Harvey is scheduled to face Marlins’ rookie right-hander Jose Fernandez in his next start on Monday. That’s one tasty matchup.

Aaron Judge was involved in a weird play in the fourth inning

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Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge found himself front-and-center in a weird play in the bottom of the fourth inning during Game 4 of the ALCS on Tuesday evening. Judge drew a walk to lead off the frame. After Didi Gregorius lined out, Gary Sanchez flied out to shallow right-center.

Judge must have thought the ball had a high probability of falling in for a hit, so he was past the second base bag around the time he realized his mistake. He retraced his steps, running back to first base. Reddick’s throw hopped a couple of times but first base umpire Jerry Meals called Judge out on the tag-up play.

Manager Joe Girardi requested a review and the call was overturned: Judge was safe. However, Astros manager A.J. Hinch wanted to challenge that Judge did not re-touch second base on his way back. Rather than issuing a formal challenge, the Astros had to appeal the play by having starter Lance McCullers throw to second base, at which point second base umpire Jim Reynolds would issue a ruling. McCullers was a bit hasty, though, and made his appeal throw before Greg Bird stepped into the batter’s box. Reynolds told McCullers that he had to wait. So, McCullers again made his appeal throw.

This time, Judge was running and he was simply tagged out at second base for the final out of the inning. No need for a review.

As Ken Rosenthal explained on the FS1 broadcast, the Yankees were trying to “beat the police.” They knew Judge would have been ruled out — replays clearly showed he never re-touched the base — so they had nothing to lose by sending Judge. If he was safe, the Astros would no longer be able to appeal the play. If he’s out, then it’s the same outcome they would have had anyway.