By virtue of being a southpaw knuckleballer Ryan Feierabend is, by definition, interesting.
Knucklerballs in general are a dying breed, and guys that throw them from the left side are even rarer. However, there is a pretty significant difference between “interesting” and “good” and Feierabend demonstrated that distinction on Saturday.
Making his Blue Jays debut, the 33-year-old gave the club four innings , allowing four runs on seven hits with a walk and just two strikeouts to his name. His outing was ended by a rainout when he’d thrown 74 pitches, so it’s possible he could have improved on those numbers - but what he showed wasn’t especially encouraging.
The White Sox were on the southpaw all day, tagging him for a home run in their first trip to the plate and getting on the board in all but one of his innings.
Feirabend’s stuff looked about as expected. His fastball sat in the mid-eighties and his knuckleball was about 10 mph slower than that and was officially all over the place.
There were times when the pitch eluded opposing hitters as he got four swinging strikes with it - including this strikeout of Charlie Tilson.
Feierabend’s knuckler also eluded Luke Maile, resulting in a wild pitch, a passed ball, and a stolen base borne of the backstop’s inability to handle the ball cleanly.
None of the lefty’s other pitches impressed, and the whole mix was all over the place in a way that Statcast had a hard time categorizing. Some of his knuckleballs were registered as knuckle curves and a few changeups were logged as fastballs, showing just home dissimilar Feierabend is to his peers.
Ultimately how unique the lefty is won’t matter to the Blue Jays if he isn’t productive. He wasn’t on Saturday, and didn’t look like a likely answer to the team’s rotation issues.
That doesn’t mean he isn’t worth another shot. The knuckleball is a fickle, volatile beast and one appearance isn’t enough to get a good sense of it. With the impending return of Clayton Richard, though, Feierabend may have only had this one shot.
If this was it, at the very least he got to be part of an excellent fun fact.
9/23/2008: Ryan Feierabend, in his most recent @MLB start, faces Vlad Guerrero Sr.
Today: Ryan Feierabend takes the mound with Vlad Guerrero Jr. playing 3B behind him.
h/t @AndrewSimonMLB pic.twitter.com/nQG4SVzx1N
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) May 18, 2019
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