In an 11-0 blowout against the Dodgers last night, Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa sent infielder Skip Schumaker to the mound in the ninth inning to preserve the bullpen. Schumaker gave up two runs: He struck out the first batter swinging and then allowed a walk and a homer before ending the inning with a flyout and a strikeout looking.
Schumaker showed surprisingly good velocity for a position player, maxing at 92.7 mph according to the PITCH-f/x system at Busch Stadium. He also threw plenty of (what looked like) change-ups; his velocity tailed off during the inning*, so it’s hard to differentiate between the fastballs and change-ups, so for the time being I’ll say 11 fastballs and 10 change-ups.
For what it’s worth, the only swinging strike he got was on a 77.7 mph change-up, one of his slowest offerings.
*His final three pitches were 87.9, 85.9 and 85.6 mph. I presume they are fastballs; I hope we don’t soon hear news of an arm injury.
If you got the privilege of watching Schumaker’s inning, you may have noticed the pace at which he was working. He started by working fast, which turned into lightning fast once he got two outs in the inning.
For reference: Dave Appelman of Fangraphs has calculated the average time between pitches in the major leagues to be 21.5 seconds, removing the time between plate appearances and other game delays. If we average Schumaker’s pace while removing the necessary breaks, we come up with 13 seconds (compare that to notorious fast-worker Mark Buehrle, who’s averaging about 16 seconds for this year).
But the 13 seconds, as remarkable as that is, only tells part of the story. Consider the time between pitches as the inning went on:
Sprinting toward the finish line, if you ask me. Or maybe “trying to get out of this strange and uncomfortable place as fast as possible.” It’s hard to say.