I finally just watched the Chris Heston game. You don't even need clarification -- you know, the Chris Heston game. The thing about that game that strikes me is just how well he pitched. That's the real takeaway of the game for me, in my opinion, but your mileage may vary, in my opinion. He pitched real good-like, in my opinion.
The other takeaway: Heston has a sinker, alright. When it's working, it's a sinker of the gods.
George R.R. Martin: I was thinking of replacing the dragon eggs with three Chris Heston sinkers, and then Daenerys can be the Mother of Sinkers and everyone is scared of her sinkers, and she uses the sinkers in an attempt to reclaim the throne and then changes the name of King's Landing to "Sinkertown."
Editor: This all makes a lot of sense and I encourage these changes.
I was expecting quiet competence when Heston came up. I was not expecting to fall in love with a pitch. When it's right -- and it isn't always, mind you -- it's glorious. Which leads us to the topic of the day: The five best pitches on the staff.
(I'm picking just one per pitcher, lest this turn into an appreciation of everything Madison Bumgarner does, which is a topic for another day.) (Or every day.)
5. Santiago Casilla's fastball
In which we realize that, geez, no one really throws that hard on this team. This is here by default, a placeholder for when Hunter Strickland comes back or Ray Black debuts. I love a good fastball, and Casilla's fastball is still the reason he's effective. We're at 293 innings of 2.09 ERA pitching with the Giants. It's normally a good idea to laugh at ERA for relievers, but after 293 innings ... I don't know, how is that not cool?
PITCHf/x classifies it as a two-seamer, and you can see the movement clearly here:
Aw, man, Adrian Gonzalez could have tied the game, but then he didn't.
4. Tim Lincecum's change
This used to be the best pitch in baseball, give or take. It's falling fast, just a couple years away from playing county fairs, but this isn't about the Best Pitches on the Giants That Are Also Consistent. Just talking about the best pitches. When it's right, it's still mesmerizing.
It used to look so much better when it was following a 95-mph fastball, but, well, ashes to ashes. That doesn't mean we can't appreciate Giancarlo Stanton -- one of the best living baseball players -- flailing at a well-placed, well-timed changeup.
3. Chris Heston's sinker
Since you can probably guess the two ahead of this, there's no risk of spoilers when I tell you that this bumped Jeremy Affeldt's curveball off. Affeldt's curve is one of the biggest breaking balls from a left-hander in the game, and it occasionally makes hitters look like they've never seen a curveball before. Is it too soon to bump that pitch off for this one?
Probably. I just like the idea of the fast-moving front door sinker, though, the concept of it. The way it makes hitters give up and make Jerry Lewis sounds when they realize it's too late to swing. Here's a frustrated hitter:
Hey, don't Luis your cool, lol. Wait, no, I mean, wow, what a sinker. Heston did this throughout the night, and it set everything up, especially the offspeed stuff in the dirt.
Finally, a sinker in the middle of the whoops that is sure in the dirt isn't it yep dang.
This is an aggressive ranking and one that might age like a yearbook picture. I'm drunk on sinkers, though, baby. Totally loaded. Look at that sinker. Mmmmmmm boy.
2. Sergio Romo's slider
Still one of the better baseball-related pleasures available to Giants fans, after all these years. The first time Romo threw this slider, Brian Horwitz and Travis Denker were both in the lineup. All that we've been through, and that slider is still there. Here's Evan Gattis, who picked up Felix Rodriguez's scouting report by mistake.
Waaaaait, this thing didn't say he threw a slider. Hitters are getting better at laying off the pitch, so Romo isn't getting the absurd numbers he had in 2011, but it's still a pitch that makes hitters look silly.
1. Madison Bumgarner's slutter
Could have been his fastball. Could have been his curveball. But the slider-cutter what-have-you is still the champ. Here's Bumgarner using the pitch to break poor Giancarlo down again ...
... but I'm almost thinking that's a disingenuous example. The best slutters come on the hands of hitters who have no idea what to do. "Is it a strike, or is it something that will lead to surgeons putting pins in my thumb?", hitters seem to think. Bats break. Balls dribble. Bumgarner could still be an effective pitcher with a fastball/curve combination, but it's the slutter that makes him one of the toughest at-bats in baseball.
Honorable mention: Affeldt's curve, Tim Hudson's sinker, Lincecum's curve, Javier Lopez's slippery balls of nonsense, Jean Machi's forkball-thing, Yusmeiro Petit's curve, Matt Cain's healthy fastball, Ryan Vogelsong's curve, and George Kontos's slider. Other than Affeldt, though, I'm pretty comfortable leaving them all off for the pitches above. Those are some fun pitches.