Young pitching can get you excited about the future. It can put thoughts of long windows of contention in your head. It can steer a franchise in the right direction. It can make the plan click.
Young pitching can also, in an instant, erase all that.
It was a thousand-mile gulf between Glenn Otto’s first start against Houston and his second. In fact, in each subsequent start, Otto has looked more and more, well, like young pitching. It’s not a criticism. It’s just an understanding that this is what to expect from young arms. And also that quite often the best start a pitcher ever has is his first because teams don’t have a book on him and haven’t figure out how to adjust to him.
The right-hander from Spring, Texas, is just twenty-five. He pitched just six games at the Triple-A level. So he still has a lot of learning to do.
A.J. Alexy falls into this category as well. His first two appearances were brilliant. Five innings, then six innings of shutout baseball. Then, a 3.1-inning outing where he gave up six earned runs.
It’s going to happen. It happens to Cy Young pitchers too. The difference is, they know how to minimize the damage and those outings are rare. Young pitching takes time. Often three or four seasons.
Tonight’s starter Taylor Hearn is someone Otto and Alexy might want to take solace in. Hearn’s first start in 2019 was a disaster. So, they kept him in the bullpen all of 2020. He started slow but then began figuring things out. Even his first start in 2021 was disastrous. But, he got another shot to start, and has been pretty solid since.
Young pitching gives hope. Young pitching takes it away. This franchise has been so devoid of pitching success that it’s easy to get swept up in optimism when a young pitcher has great early success. It’s just as easy to write them off as just another product of the Rangers failed farm system when they struggle. Both are understandable positions. We are, after all, fans. We live and die by these guys.
Otto and Alexy and Hearn have a lot of baking left to do. We can only hope the brilliance we have seen in short stints can be harvested for longer periods of time.
The talent is there. That’s what’s promising.
We haven’t had that promise in a long long time.