Remember when the New York Yankees had a couple of prospects known as “The Killer B’s”?
One of them, Dellin Betances, has established himself as one of the most dominant relief pitchers in baseball.
The other took a little longer to develop, but Manny Banuelos got his career off to a good start, albeit with the Atlanta Braves. Atlanta obtained him this past offseason in a trade for pitcher David Carpenter.
Banuelos threw 5⅔ scoreless innings in his major-league debut on Thursday, a 2-1 win over the Washington Nationals. The Braves, not expected to be in contention for a playoff spot, pulled to within five games of the National League East lead with a walk-off victory. And they won on a day in which the pitching matchup pitted Banuelos against Nationals ace Max Scherzer.
How he succeeded
The 24-year-old Banuelos excelled because of his changeup. Nationals’ hitters were 0-for-9 with seven missed swings against the 23 changeups he threw. Four of his seven strikeouts came with that pitch.
Banuelos also kept his pitches out of harm's way. Only eight of his 75 pitches were thrown within the middle third of the strike zone, width-wise (in other words, right over the heart of the plate).
He also didn’t walk anyone, noteworthy considering that he’d averaged just more than four walks per nine innings with Triple-A Gwinnett this season.
Banuelos is the second Braves starter to make his debut this season and the second to fare well. Matt Wisler beat the Mets on June 19, allowing one run in eight innings.
Banuelos is the eighth pitcher to debut with a start of at least five scoreless innings this season, the most such debuts in a season in modern major-league history (since 1900). The others are Archie Bradley, Mike Wright, Eduardo Rodriguez, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Vincent Velasquez, Justin Nicolino and Cody Anderson. It should be noted that in this era of heavy emphasis on bullpen usage none of those pitchers went longer than 7⅔ innings.
Did you know?
Banuelos allowed two hits, no runs and no walks while striking out seven. He is the first pitcher to hit (or surpass) all those marks in his debut since the pitcher he opposed on Thursday, Scherzer, whose introduction to the majors was four relief innings for the Diamondbacks against the Astros on April 29, 2008.
By the way, Scherzer threw his third complete game in his past four starts. Prior to that, he had one complete game in 210 career starts.
Cameron Maybin beat Scherzer with a walk-off chop over third base. Scherzer allowed five hits in 14 at-bats that right-handed hitters had against him on Thursday. In the three starts prior to this one, opposing right-handed hitters were 1-for-45 (with a hit by pitch) against Scherzer.