Coming into the year, Tyler Ferguson was the odds on favorite to win the Sunday starter job. He's a big armed righty with a heavy fastball in the low to mid-90s and a hammer curve that, when on, is a clear strikeout pitch. However, he had some command issues from time to time last year, and when he lost it... it was brutal.
The first 4 and 1/3 innings of his 2015 season were beyond brutal. He was sporting an 18.50 ERA, while giving up only 4 hits. Take a wild guess as to how he gave up all those runs. Though he only registered 15 at bats faced, he walked 19 and recorded 6 wild pitches. Trust me, there were many more than 6 - the official scorer was his aunt or something, and felt bad for him.
Beyond that, his mechanics were horrific. He was planting his left foot before starting his arm - resulting in falling off to the right while throwing the ball across his body. He was so deep into his own head, Christopher Nolan was filming a spinning top the whole time. In short, the comically over-sized foam cowboy hat was surgically attached to his head.
Today, that all changed.
In two innings of scoreless ball, striking out 4 Wofford Woffordians in the process, Tyler Ferguson made a strong case for erasing the "Turd" from his name. Beyond the results - the '27 Yanks Wofford is not, by the way - the most encouraging aspect of this performance is that Tyler
"Police Brutality" "Nickname TBD at a Later Date" Ferguson looked mechanically sound.
Let me say that again: Tyler Ferguson looked mechanically sound.
I cannot say with any degree of confidence that he won't get into his own head again, but the Ferguson I saw tonight was pitching with balance, not overthrowing, and save for bouncing a few curves (which is to be expected even when he has command of them), was throwing strike after strike.
With Fulmer, Buehler, and Sheffield looking as if they've locked down the first three slots in the rotation; and Ryan "Vermeer" Johnson and Kyle "The Stuff" Wright looking to get the lion's share of mid-week innings (though K-Chow is starting tomorrow), I doubt Corbin will have the confidence to give starter's innings to Ferguson this season. However, with Hayden Stone still working back from an as of yet unnamed injury, our back of the bullpen is lacking a power right arm - the '14 Adam Ravenelle role.
Could Ferguson turn himself into a set-up man? I don't know, but tonight's results were more than promising.
If nothing else, he dropped his '15 ERA by about 6 runs today, and that's something.