Some Thoughts on Luke French
Remember when all of us were throwing “I told you so’s” at Tigers fans because of Jarrod Washburn’s struggles? It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago, does it? Well, as Mariners fans we might as well brace ourselves for the tides to turn, at least temporarily. We have to keep in mind that although we did plenty well in the Washburn trade, Luke French isn’t a great pitcher. He probably isn’t ever going to be a great pitcher. But what he profiles to be is a slightly better version of Jarrod Washburn, who still has plenty of time to develop, and will benefit from pitching in Seattle in the exact same way Washburn did in 2009. That’s why, even if Mauricio Robles hadn’t been included, we in the Mariners community still would have been more than happy with the trade. We got rid of an aging nothing special pitcher, who’s contract is up, and we gained a young nothing special pitcher, who’s under club control for another 6 years. We made out like bandits, and Luke French struggling right now doesn’t change that at all.
There are a few things we have to keep in mind when it comes to French – his age, and his lack of major league experience. He, much like Ian Snell, isn’t going to be an overnight fix. Granted, Snell has much more potential and much better stuff, but their situations are pretty similar – they’re both relatively young, they both recently came from separate organizations, and they both need a lot of work. The only difference is that Snell has the potential to be a solid #2 or 3 starter, while French’s ceiling is probably a back of the rotation guy. The entire Mariners pitching staff always gives rave reviews of both Rick Adair and John Wetteland, so we can hope they’ll be able to work their magic again this offseason – not just with Snell and French, but also with guys like Vargas, Olson, and dare I say, Silva.
On to what hurt French tonight: He couldn’t locate his fastball, and he didn’t miss bats. When you have an 88 MPH fastball, you damn well better be able to locate it if you want to have success in the big leagues. That pitch isn’t going to blow anyone away, and if you can’t hit your spots with it it’s going to get hit hard – and it did. It wasn’t just his fastball though – his offspeed pitches got crushed too, and aside from throwing 72% strikes with his slider, he couldn’t locate them either. The slider was the only pitch he missed any bats with as well (2 of them). There isn’t a whole lot else to say about his outing tonight – he couldn’t throw strikes, so he walked guys, he couldn’t locate his pitches, so he got hit hard, and he looked even worse than his line. It’s probably nothing to get too worried about, as we knew what we were getting when we traded for him, but his command is going to have to improve.
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