Scott Diamond had been ready to throw up to 100 pitches in his 2013 debut, if necessary.
By the time he’d gone through 78, however, the Minnesota Twins had seen enough.
No, it was far the first impression that the lefty wanted to make after the buzz he’d generated as a 2.2 fWAR player in his first full season in the bigs in 2012. Though he did pitch to contact on Saturday against the New York Mets, he did it in the worst of ways, giving up four runs on eight hits, finally running out of gas in the fifth inning, which he was unable to escape.
Now, the zeroes through the first four inning might suggest that he’d been fine prior to that, but it simply wasn’t the case, as Diamond was having problems with his command from the get-go, and was consistently falling behind batters.
Of the first 14 batters that came up against the Twins’ hurler, nine saw first-pitch balls, and his 35 percent first-pitch strike rate was something that ultimately attributed to his downfall in the fifth, when the Mets together six straight hits (including a homer by Marlon Byrd) to start the inning, putting swift, merciful end to Diamond’s night.
So, what can the Twins take away from this? Well, you could say that for the first four innings, this was a pitcher who did his pitch-to-contact thing (90.3 percent), and only allowed a pair of hits though those innings. This was, after all, just his first start coming off shoulder surgery, and the team has good reason to take the positives where they can find it.
On the other hand, that kind of style isn’t going to be particularly advantageous when a pitcher doesn’t attack hitters with strikes, and Diamond, someone who was expected to be a big part at the front-end of this rotation, was definitely not able to do that on Saturday.
The mulligan clause is in full effect here, but there’s little doubt that Minnesota will want to see more strikes from their presumed first choice for Opening Day.