Justin Grimm’s last name creates opportunity for some wonderfully pun-driven writing. If he pitches poorly, the outlook was Grimm. If he pitches successfully, he’s the Grimm reaper. Saturday night against the Houston Astros, Grimm certainly reaped the opportunity that was given to him. The opportunity arose because of what Grimm has done in double-A Frisco for the Texas Rangers this year, and the opportunity arose because the Rangers’ disabled list is filling up with key pieces: Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando, and Koji Uehara.
Grimm took the mound in a MLB game for the first time, and he took it with authority, proving that he belonged. In total, he pitched 6 innings and gave up 6 hits and 3 runs. More importantly, he walked none. As icing on the cake, he struck out seven. He worked economically, throwing just 88 pitches. In 13 starts for Frisco this year, Grimm had pitched 77 innings and tallied 67 strikeouts against just 14 walks. That type of command was a big reason that his name was called to make the start on Saturday. He answered that call by doing what he has done all year: throwing strikes and giving his team a chance to win the game.
Despite being a self-described power pitcher with a good fastball, it was Grimm’s slurve that stole the show. Fifty-two of Grimm’s 88 pitches were fastballs, another 5 were changeups, and the remaining 31 pitches were slurves. Grimm threw 31 slurves and a resounding 22 (71%) of them were strikes, and 8 of those were swinging strikes. Of Grimm’s seven strike threes, six were on the slurve, all swings-and-misses. Grimm pitched a classic game, throwing fastballs to get ahead in the count or to pitch to contact, and using his slurve and change-up as his punchout pitches.
The Rangers trailed 3-0 as the game entered the bottom of the sixth, but then the offense woke up for a 5-run inning. Later, the Texas bats would tack on another three runs, while the trio of Robbie Ross, Mike Adams, and Mark Lowe made relatively quick work of the Astros to nail down the game and lock up a win for Justin Grimm. This game also secured a season series win against Houston for Texas, and the highly promoted (not coveted) Silver Boot trophy belongs to the Rangers for another year.
The immediate future for Justin Grimm is not yet clear. Eventually, some of the current Rangers health issues will rectify themselves, and Roy Oswalt will be ready to join the staff soon. A ticket back to double-A may be his next stop. If that’s the case, however, it will not be from a lack of effort or results. Whether his next start is in Arlington or in Frisco, the Rangers have to be excited about what they saw from a 23-year old taking the fullest advantage of an opportunity given to him. With the kind of results he provided on Saturday night, maybe one day he will have truly earned a “Grimm reaper” moniker.