Sunday, May 16, 2004
No SheetsPosted by Bryan Smith
In my Milwaukee Brewers season preview, I wrote, “If Ben could lower his hit rates a little further than he could become a very good pitcher, though it’s doubtful he’ll ever reach what Baseball America called, “a legitimate top-of-the-rotation pitcher the Brewers will build around.”
Today, Ben Sheets went out to prove me wrong. I don’t watch enough baseball, but I was lucky enough to watch the last three innings of Sheets game against the Braves. Why so special? Sheets struck out eighteen Braves batters today, including fourteen left-handed hitters. Sheets was displaying pinpoint control, hitting the outside corner with a 95 mph fastball on each pitch, and then finishing batters off with a disgusting curveball. He struck out none in the sixth inning, which prevented him from tying the twenty strikeout record.
This was just one of many good starts by Sheets this season. It was his third double-digit strikeout game of the season, and his one run allowed (an Andruw Jones homer) lowered his ERA to 2.90 for the season. Milwaukee is playing some great baseball, and if Sheets continues to mix those power pitches with that control, I might regret doubting Baseball America.
Bryan Smith, co-founder of Baseball Analysts, is a freelance writer with work appearing at SI.com, BaseballProspectus.com and Baseball America. Feel free to e-mail Bryan here, and look for his annual prospect list at SI.com next week.