Oakland A’s pitcher Jharel Cotton threw seven shutout innings in Monday’s 2-0 win over the Royals, striking out six and giving up two hits and three walks. The 25-year-old’s offspeed stuff was saucy.
Earlier this month, Eno Sarris of FanGraphs examined how effective Cotton’s changeup can be. According to Sarris’s numbers, Cotton has a lot of movement to his pitch, as well as a large gap in velocity between it and his fastball. He said he doesn’t grip it in any special way:
“I spin it. I just spin it,” said Cotton with his trademark grin in Oakland this Tuesday. “Like a curveball, you try to spin it, to take the velocity off, same thing with a changeup.”
Whatever Cotton’s doing, it worked yesterday. Some of these saps were outright baffled:
Brandon Moss, who struck out three times in the game, had it rough. Here’s a fun interactive GIF of Cotton’s grip and release on one of those strikeouts. The ball’s there, then it isn’t:
Even if the A’s turn out to be uninspiring and average—a likely outcome—Cotton is in a great situation that should allow him to prove himself over the course of a full season. For now, it must feel good to have Pedro Martinez comparing you to himself: