In his first big-league game as a reliever, which came nine days ago in Milwaukee, Collin Balester caused a harrowing moment when he drilled Rickie Weeks in the head with a fastball. It happened again on Tuesday night.
Balester, trying to pitch inside against Mark Reynolds, hit the third baseman in the head with a 95-mph fastball in the sixth inning, causing Reynolds to leave the game after being examined by the Diamondbacks' trainers for several minutes.
Reynolds had homered in his previous at-bat, but it's unlikely any pitcher would throw at a batter's head in retaliation. The pitch appeared to get away from Balester, but still, it's a disturbing trend.
Besides the obvious safety issues, it shows Balester - who couldn't keep his pitches down as a starter -still has control issues as a reliever. He shied away from pitching inside the rest of his outing, and was just pulled for Doug Slaten after walking two batters and hitting Reynolds among the five batters he faced.
Balester has impressive stuff, and his fastball has picked up some steam since he's gone to the bullpen. But he's got to get better command and downward tilt on his pitches, and he obviously can't be hitting guys in the head.
At some point, intentional or not, Balester could put the Nationals' batters in harm's way if another team decides to reciprocate his wildness by hitting one of his teammates.
The Diamondbacks lead 6-1 in the seventh inning. After winning five of seven, the Nationals appear headed for a loss here.