The New York Mets got their first victory of spring training in their second game, on Tuesday against the Houston Astros. It was a 2-0 win, which means the afternoonâ€™s theme was quality pitching, especially from right-hander Marcus Stroman.
Stroman, who took a one-year, $18.9 million qualifying offer to stay with the Mets one more season, has been working on a new pitch for months, and Tuesday marked the first time he got to test in during a live game.
During the offseason, Stroman learned a new split-change from Metsâ€™ teammate Robert Gsellman, and he threw it six times in the win against the Astros. It helped him achieve one swing-and-miss from Michael Brantley, a very good hitter, and makes for a nice complementary offering to add to his fastballs, sinkers and sliders
â€œMan, I love it,â€ Stroman said to MLB.com. â€œThatâ€™s a new pitch for me. Iâ€™m still getting comfortable with it, but to see the results today, itâ€™s extremely encouraging.â€
The Metsâ€™ righty has a new weapon
According to MLB.comâ€™s Anthony DiComo, â€œunlike a traditional changeup, Stromanâ€™s split-change relies on pressure from his ring finger, which he places on the outer edge of the seam. Stroman has been working for months to perfect the pitch, but he couldnâ€™t be sure about its effectiveness until he used it in games. Now that he has, Stroman is more confident than ever in his ability to use it this season.â€
Over the last four years, Â Stroman used changeups only 5% of the time, but on Tuesday, he went to his new split-change roughly 25% of the time.
â€œYou never know until you throw it against hitters,â€ Stroman said. â€œIt can feel filthy, it can feel nasty, it can feel like the best pitch ever. But until you actually get out there and throw it in a game, and see how hitters react to it, I feel like you canâ€™t actually consider that pitch a weapon. â€¦ After throwing it today, I feel like itâ€™s a weapon.â€