At the 17-second mark of this video, you can witness the quirkiest aspect of Yordano Ventura’s delivery. He faces Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis. As Ventura finishes his follow-through on a 100-mph fastball, his right leg whiplashes around his body, and his foot rises above his neck.
"That’s natural," said Bruce Chen, Ventura’s translator, after Ventura’s 8 1/3 innings of dominance on Friday night against the Indians. "That comes natural to him. He’s not trying to do it. Sometimes he goes really high. And sometimes he doesn’t go that far."
More impressive than the optics are the results. Kipnis swung through that fastball. Ventura struck out four on Friday night. As he traverses his first full big-league season, he has been content to trust his defenders behind him and not attempt to strike out each batter he faces.
Ventura needed only 86 pitches to get through seven innings on Friday. He was at 103 pitches after eight. Since he was three scoreless outs away from a shutout, manager Ned Yost gave him a chance for the ninth. A leadoff homer by Michael Brantley wrecked those plans, and a single two batters later caused Ventura’s exit. He tied a career-high with 113 pitches.
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"I wasn’t going to take him past 120 pitches," Yost said. "And after the home run, it’s like, ‘OK, next guy that gets on, that’s it.’ But he pitched really, really good."
Added third baseman Mike Moustakas, "Unreal, man. That’s what he’s capable of doing every time he steps on a mound."
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"Fell Runner" by Survival Knife.