“Petco Park-Magic-Pitching Coach”
For the second time in a two week span, a Padres pitcher flirted with history.
First it was Tyson Ross, coming off the blood clot surgery, then on Tuesday, Jordan Lyles nearly did the same.
In a season of lots of losses, and lousy starting pitching, in a year where the Padres top two young pitchers are on the DL, and a third one is laboring in El Paso, Ross and Lyles gave Padres fans something to feel good about in a given start.
A near no hitter.
Lyles threw 7.1 perfect innings against the Rockies, before giving up 8th inning hits. Ross was equally wicked a couple of weeks ago, nearly doing the same before running out of gas too.
The common denominator in all this is pitching coach Darren Balsley.
Jordan Lyles was a first round draft pick the Houston Astros a decade ago. Tyson Ross an Oakland A’s refugee, who did not win.
Both came to San Diego as hard throwers, but with little else. Balsley has polished them, and now we see results.
Lyles was coming off an atrocious (9.39-ERA) last year. His career won loss record was (28-48) with the Astros and Rockies.
Ross was (2-11) his final year in Oakland and (6-18) in his career before becoming a complete pitcher under the Padres pitching coach.
The assignment for the highly regarded pithing coach, fix Ross’ mechanics, which come undone with his 6’6 frame.
The challenge with Lyles, make him a downhill pitcher, with all his velocity, and teach him to throw his secondary pitches for strikes.
Ross got better and better, and left for Texas. He came back here after blood clot surgery on his shoulder, and has rallied back. Lyles was pitching to save his career, first out of the pen, and now in the rotation.
The flashes we saw of Lyles as an Astro, then as a Rockie, all came together on a Wednesday afternoon.at Petco.
Balsley’s history is amazing, all the relief pitchers he groomed, and now what he is doing with the rotation. He holds the hands of the rookie arms, Joey Luchessi and Ereic Lauer. He breathes confidence into a journeyman like Kirby Yates.
Think guys like Heath Bell, Scott Linebrink, Dale Thayer and Brad Hand, all waiver wire pick ups, trade deals, DFA types, all successful thanks to that guy who touches everything on the mind.
And now he has restored the mechanics and sales pitched guys like Ross and Lyles back into important roles on a troubled franchise.
Sure the conversation in the city is about draft picks, the Latin American connection, the kids on the way. But there are still games to be played this season and next, likely non playoff seasons.
On this day, in an otherwise lost season, building for the future, Balsley proved his worth again, again, and again.
Just asked Tyson Ross and Jordan Lyles.