Howdy Braves fans… and anyone else who’s joined the party. Tyrell Jenkins is making his MLB debut today for the Braves, as they battle the Phillies in a contest featuring the worst teams of the NL East.
In a lost season, keeping tabs on our young talent is the best we Braves fans can do to engage in the season in a positive manner. In this spirit, I’ll be live blogging Jenkins’ start right here, moment to moment. Can’t catch the game because of this or that? Check in with Modern Pastime over the next few hours to keep track of the youngster’s first start, and ask me questions you’d like to see answered in the comments. Cheers.
Jenkins has been throwing out of the ‘pen for a bit now, so keep an eye on his pitch count. Snitker will likely have him on a short leash.
First pitch fastball to Herrera goes for a base hit up the middle.
Jenkins gets a weak ground out, Herrera to 2nd.
According to StatCast, Jenkins has thrown all fastballs so far. Oops, there’s a change up as I type.
Asche pops out to Right-Center on another heater.
Franco grounds out harmlessly to SS to end the frame quietly.
The Phillies slugger, who has 16 homers on the year, fouled a FB out of play with a 3-0 count before the ground out.
That’s 15 pitches so far for Jenkins, 9 for strikes. Almost exclusively heaters so far.
Poor start to the frame, as Ruiz draws a walk on four straight FBs out of the zone.
Jenkins, as usual, is sporting the high stirrups. Another reason he’s building a reputation as a fan favorite, depending on how you feel about stirrups.
Tommy Joseph singles opposite field through the rights side on a FB.
Aybar makes a nice charging play to get an out at first on Galvis, but both runners advance.
Hernandez grounds out to Freeman, runners hold. 2 outs now.
Jenkins mixed in a couple of change ups to Galvis, which were successful. Let’s hope he mixes his pitches well for the rest of the way, though he has not given up damaging contact yet sticking almost exclusively to FBs. Perhaps we’ll see Jenkins change his approach as the line up flips to the second time through.
Jenkins uses 4 more FBs to get a ground out out of Hellickson, which required another slick play from Aybar.
During his first AB, TJ got a bunt down and showed his athleticism and presence of mind getting down the line in fair territory, potentially contributing to an error on the play. Jenkins is 6’4, and really looks like a natural athlete out there.
The Braves grabbed an early lead on a Freeman RBI via walk with ’em loaded. Let’s see how Jenkins looks as he gets to the second time through the order this frame.
With Herrera batting a second time, already Jenkins is mixing up his pitches. Herrera saw one fast ball, two sliders and two change ups. He struck out swinging on a change.
Bourjous hits a first pitch slider hard to Right, but Markakis takes a great route and makes the running catch.
Jenkins gets Asche to pop out to Adonis via a fastball. Inning FIN.
In his second AB, Jenkins flew out to dead center. He put good barrel on what was a 90 mph from Hellickson, right down the middle. It was a 2-2 count, making that twice that the rookie has down something reasonably hitter-looking with two strikes in this game. Always encouraging to see pitchers who look like they’ve swung the stick before.
Jenkins indeed mixed in more of his breaking ball and change as the order turned over in the 3rd. He sits at 43 pitches through 3 innings, 25 for strikes. With some quick outs, I imagine Jenkins has a chance to get through the 5th today (remembering that he is likely on a precautionary pitch count, having not exceeded four innings sincebeing called up in late June).
Franco hits a screamer to Adonis for the first out. It was an 89 mps FB.
Ruiz grounds out on a 3-1 FB. 50 pitches with 2 down. 8 straight retired.
Joseph grounds out to Aybar sharply, in the hole at SS, to end the inning.
That’s 9 in a row set down by Jenkins, who is working efficiently against a team that has been swinging the bats pretty well as of late.
According to Pitchf/x, Jenkins is averaging 93 mph on his FB since being called up this year, all obviously out of the bullpen. Today, he is sitting more 89-91. It’s speculative, but I’d imagine this is intentional so as to pace himself throughout the start. This brings up an interesting question: is there any harm in the move to the bullpen for the rookie? More specifically, how might we quantify the health risks of moving a guy between starting and relieving roles? Jenkins seems mentally mature, but he is also young and hungry, just the type of player who won’t complain if erratic pitch counts are making his shoulder feel funny, for example. Something to ponder, being that all we really have to ponder this year is the work of our front office and management. Le sigh.
Freddy Galvis singles through what would have been SS, beating a ‘violent’ shift.
Galvis steals 2B on a hit and run swing and miss. AJ really is terrible defensively, but you knew that.
Hernandez singles to RF, where Jeff Francoer lives and, in this case, throws out Freddy Galvis trying to score. Silly Freddy. What an accurate throw and quick release by Frenchy.
The pitcher Hellickson grounds out on a FB, moving Hernandez to third.
And that does it for our youngster Tyrell Jenkins, as Snitker comes on with the hook.
Shortly after, Ian Krol gives up a double to tie the game. That closes the book on a solid start for Jenkins.
Predictably, Joe Simpson immediately started complaining about the fact the Tyrell wouldn’t be allowed to finish the required 5 innings for the all important pitcher win. Then cue the rest of the announcing team interjecting that Jenkins missed an opportunity to ‘get better,’ and that he had ‘earned the chance’ to finish the inning. These are all, in my eyes, mostly empty sentiments being used to veil the old school reflex that a pitcher should be able to have a chance to get a ‘win.’ Pardon me, but I just can’t miss a chance to reinforce the fact that pitcher wins are easily the silliest popular stat in the game, yet so many voices purveying our game act as if it measures anything or matters. ***steps off soapbox***
Jenkins looked up-beat coming out of the game, as he should have. Here is his line:
4.2 IP, 18 batters faced, 64 pitches, 38 strikes, 4 H, 1 R/ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Nothing about the performance looked dominant, but the stuff looked fine, and the command was fine too. Particularly after the first time through the order, he mixed his pitches well. One thing he is not doing so far, however, is miss bats.
Overall, batters are making contact with about 90% of pitches that they swing at against Jenkins. The League rate this year is 78.4%. Looking only at pitches in the strike zone according to Pitchf/x, hitters are making contact essentially 100% of the time. The league rate is currently 86.3%. So far, in a tiny sample, Jenkins is doing a fine job of limiting hard contact; he is better than league median with a Statcast average exit velocity of 88.7 mph.
We’ll see if Jenkins’ stuff proves a bit more elusive as his body of work in 2016 grows. Right now, he looks about as billed: solid back end starter with athletic upside. That ain’t the sort of thing to thumb ones nose at, especially for a rebuilding mid-market club.
Congrats to Tyrell Jenkins on a solid first big league start, and congrats to us Braves fans for having something to holler cheerfully about!