That’s not a huge deal — pitchers talk about adding pitches pretty often — but it’s the key Tyler Kepner uses to unlock the door into Max Scherzer’s world in his excellent New York Times article about the Nationals’ new ace.
In it he talks about Scherzer’s lack of complacency despite getting a giant new contract, noting that agent Scott Boras was surprised to learn that, after getting his last big contract as a pro, Scherzer immediately set out to get better. Which is not something every guy who cashes in big does. Scherzer is compared to Greg Maddux in that way and Scherzer cites Maddux as a particular role model. Kepner notes that, when Maddux was Scherzer’s age it was 1996 and Maddux proceeded to unleash seven amazing seasons.
You’re not going to get rich in life betting that someone is going to be Greg Maddux all over again, but you have to admire him.
José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.