In 5 starts last year; Yuniesky Maya was 0-3 with a 5.88 era, a 1.577 whip and a very bad 69 ERA+. The team lost all 5 games he pitched and he didn’t come close to even recording a quality start.
He was any one of a number of excuses. He was “rusty.” He was “rushed to the majors.” He was “homesick” and he “missed his family.” He was suffering from a “lack of competition.” All those points were true. The real test for Maya would be spring training 2011.
He failed to make the rotation out of the spring this past March, but you can’t fault him there. The only rotational guy really in any jeopardy of not making the rotation (by virtue of contract or option status) was Jordan Zimmermann, and even then it was only if he was hurt. So he (by some accounts) sulked to AAA and got pounded his first few starts before sucking it up and starting to pitch like a pro. Because of Detwiler’s sudden lack of performance in AAA, Maya was first to be called up to make a spot start when Gorzelanny got hurt.
All the 2010 excuses are now out the window. He’s had a full spring, he’s rested, he should be in playing shape, and he had a bunch of AAA starts. So, what happened?
He got lit up. Again.
- 5/29: 6 hits and 2 walks in 4 2/3 innings. His team bailed him out for a ND.
- 6/3: another 6 hits and 3 more walks in 4 innings plus. His bullpen failed him and made his line look worse than it was, but still. He took a loss and dropped his era to 8.00.
- 6/8: He actually looked great. 6ip, 4 hits, 1 run, albeit against a weaker hitting San Francisco team. He got an early hook and his bullpen blew the game for him.
- 6/14: The coup-de-grace. Finally going against a decent hitting team (St. Louis), Maya got pounded like a bullpen pitcher. Only a 6run 7th inning from his offense bailed him out and gave him a ND.
Those first two starts were against San Diego and Arizona, two of the weakest hitting teams in the league. He was clearly nibbling at the strike zone instead of commanding his pitches. His one quality start was against San Francisco, also a weak hitting team (man that NL west just can’t hit!). But notice what happened when he went up against a lineup of proven hitters: Pujols homer, Berkman homer, Rasums rbi-double. Thank god Holliday is hurt.
With Gorzelanny having finished a rehab start and looking to come back, Maya has been optioned back to AAA.
One of the reasons we drafted Maya was because of his reported “93-94″ mph fastball. That, as it turns out, as proven to be a complete myth. Here’s his pitch f/x links for his 2011 starts:
- 5/29: 89.24mph average, a MAX speed of only 91.7. He only looks like he even broke 90mph a handful of times on the night.
- 6/3: 88.7 average and ONLY 89.4 as a max. 89.4 as a max fastball for a right-handed starter in the major leagues?
- 6/8: 88.6 average, 90.6 max. And this was his best game.
- 6/14: 89.1 average, max of 91.1. The announcers said he had no movement, his fastball was flat, he was missing out over the plate and he had no control.
Yeah, he throws a gazillion different pitches. Pitch f/x distinguishes between 6 of them, but he varies his arm slot on his fastballs and curves for even more variety. But clearly he’s not throwing 93-94. Whoever quoted that speed was probably on a fast gun at a stadium or was working on commission.
He’s had two shots at the big leagues and has badly underperformed both times. If he had better stuff or commanded his pitches better, then his lack of velocity wouldn’t matter as much (see Hernandez, Livan as Exhibit 1-a). But he doesn’t (have command), so he can’t (get around a lack of velocity). Unfortunately for Maya and the team, it looks like his contract may be a bust. When he goes back to AAA, it may be for good. Perhaps he’ll make for a long-man/mop-up guy at some point. But his career as a prospective Nationals starter seems done.