We often hear Orioles manager Buck Showalter say that for a pitcher sometimes less is more. He is usually referencing velocity with that comment. That seems to be the case right now for left-hander Tanner Scott, who was recalled to the big leagues for the second time this season yesterday.
Scott has a fastball that can touch 100 mph and did last year in the big leagues, when he got into two games in September. He made his big league debut Sept. 20 vs. Boston and his first two major league pitches were at 99 mph.
But as a pitcher who had always battled command and control issues, Scott needed to throw more strikes to get to the big leagues. He is doing that now, in part, by throwing a slower fastball that he commands better.
In two big league games last September, Scott averaged 98 mph on his fastball and 88 on his slider. In his appearance against the Yankees on April 8 in New York, he averaged 95 on his fastball and 86 on his slider.
Scott is patient to answer questions about his velocity and doesn’t get upset when asked by a fan or a reporter about not throwing 100 during an outing.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Scott said. “I’m getting outs and trusting my stuff and that is what is key.”
But he could reach back for more if he needs to.
“Oh definitely. But the goal is strikes and putting the ball where I want it, instead of here, try to hit this and then it’s not close to the zone,” he said.
He began this season with Triple-A Norfolk, was recalled briefly for a day on April 8, and pitched that day in New York. Now he is back for his third stint in the majors.
Throwing more strikes is what got him here and what could keep him here. During spring training he walked two and fanned seven over seven innings. With Norfolk this season, he has thrown six scoreless innings with three walks and eight strikeouts. He did allow three inherited runners to score.
“Just being confident in my stuff,” he said. “I am just going out there and trusting myself in any situation with strike one. That is the goal. Strike one and go from there.”
Even though he has made just three big league appearances, Scott is confident he can thrive at this level.
“Definitely. When I made my debut I was nervous. But when I got called up (this season) and pitched against the Yankees, I was calmer. It’s a confidence booster when you are calmer out there.”
It could be a year where Scott rides the Norfolk/Baltimore shuttle. He wouldn’t be the first. He enjoyed his brief stay in the International League this season. If this turns into a longer one this time in the American League, bet he’s okay with that.
“It was going really well (with Norfolk). I enjoyed it. Hopefully I stay here long, but I like the coaching staff there and all the guys down there.”