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Knuckle curve key as Meyer K's career-high 9

Coming off solid outing, Halos righty allows 1 unearned run in 6 IP
MLB.com

DETROIT -- Alex Meyer throws a breaking pitch that is hard to quantify. It's hard to hit, too.

Meyer's self-identified "knuckle curve" comes at batters an average of 85 mph, according to Statcast™, which makes some people believe it's more of a slider or "slurve." Regardless of its name, the pitch, when thrown accurately, complements his upper-90s fastball nicely and helped him keep Detroit guessing.

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DETROIT -- Alex Meyer throws a breaking pitch that is hard to quantify. It's hard to hit, too.

Meyer's self-identified "knuckle curve" comes at batters an average of 85 mph, according to Statcast™, which makes some people believe it's more of a slider or "slurve." Regardless of its name, the pitch, when thrown accurately, complements his upper-90s fastball nicely and helped him keep Detroit guessing.

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"You can't go out there and just pump fastballs," the Angels' righty said after Wednesday's 4-0 loss to the Tigers. "A lot of the games that I've struggled have been games where I'm not throwing that [knuckle curve] for a strike."

Meyer entered the game with the sixth-lowest batting average allowed (5-for-36, .139) on curves/knuckle curves by pitchers who have ended at least 30 at-bats with that pitch type. Against the Tigers, he allowed one hit with the knuckle curve, but also used it to get eight of his career-high nine strikeouts.

He threw the pitch 48 times, garnering 13 swinging strikes (27 percent), according to Statcast™. The pitch helped him navigate the core of Detroit's high-powered lineup. Meyer held the Tigers' three through six hitters to 2-for-11 with a walk and six strikeouts.

"They've got some of the [best] hitters in the middle of their lineup as there is in baseball," he said. "The biggest thing for me is getting strike one and obviously getting the breaking ball over."

To Detroit's fourth and fifth batters, Victor Martinez and J.D. Martinez, Meyer spun 14 knuckle curves versus just six fastballs. According to Baseball Reference, Meyer has struck out more opposing team's fourth and fifth batters than any other spot in the order.

Video: LAA@DET: Meyer ends the threat with a strikeout

Meyer, who was born five hours southwest of Detroit in Greensburg, Ind., had quite the fan base travel to Comerica Park to see his stellar start. He hosted a group including his father, wife, grandfather, sister-in-law and several family friends. His mom was too nervous, Meyer said, and opted to stay home.

"I can't imagine when I hit [Ian Kinsler in the head], what she was doing," Meyer said of one of the few curveballs that got away from him. "She's better off just being in front of the TV and watching it there."

Despite allowing four walks and hitting a batter, Meyer's six innings of one unearned-run ball represented his best Major League start. And building off his previous start, when he allowed one run on five hits with four strikeouts in six innings, there's reason to believe the 2011 first-round Draft pick can continue to put his high-octane tools to good use.

"He's got the stuff to be an outstanding Major League starting pitcher," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "I think with every start, you start to see his confidence get a little better."

Jordan Horrobin is a reporter for MLB.com based in Detroit and covered the Angels on Wednesday.

Los Angeles Angels, Alex Meyer