George Kirby is putting together an all-time season when it comes to commanding the strike zone

George Kirby paints in a way that little kids toeing the rubber only dream about. Shoot, MLB pitchers dream about it. What he's doing this year is incredibly impressive.
Miami Marlins v Seattle Mariners
Miami Marlins v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
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Ever since the Mariners drafted George Kirby, the talk has been about his command. I've talked about it multiple times, so i'll skip the early stuff, the insane minor league debut... all that jazz.

What I want to talk about is how he has taken it to the next level. This isn't just a player having good command of the zone, limiting walks, and having good stuff. This isn't even someone taking on the role of the next Greg Maddux or Cliff Lee. George Kirby is not just throwing harder than either one of those all-time great command artists... he's doing it with better accuracy than they ever did.

Oddly enough, the stingiest stint (that sounds funny) of Cliff Lee's career came during his short time in Seattle. Over 103.2 innings, Lee walked just 6 hitters. Yup. Only 6. For the season, he would finish with a BB rate of 0.764. Most people will point to this as one of the greatest stretches, ever, by a dominant starting pitcher. Sure, guys back at the turn of the 19th century walked fewer hitters, but that was a different game.

Through 80.2 innings, Kirby has walked 6 hitters this season. That's a rate of .673 walks per nine innings. So, how does that compare to the rest of the league? I'll show his dominance by just two stats. Kirby's BB/9 and his K/BB rates.

Player

Place

BB/9

George Kirby

1st

0.67

Zack Greinke

2nd

1.17

Zach Eflin

3rd

1.53

Jesus Lazardo

21st

2.37

I threw Lazardo in just to show that the distance from Kirby to 3rd is about the same as the distance from 3rd to 21st. That's massive. He's walking hitters 44% as often as the 3rd most accurate pitcher in baseball this year. That's bananas.

Player

Place

K/BB

George Kirby

1st

11.83

Joe Ryan

2nd

6.07

Zach Eflin

3rd

5.92

The next stat is more astounding though. Kirby has nearly 12 strikeouts for every walk. You add the next two guys together and they barely surpass him. This shows an insane mix of control and putaway stuff on the mound. Pitching Ninja is one of my favorite people on the internet, and he absolutely fawns over Kirby... rightfully so.

"“I think people sleep on his stuff. They know his command but don’t realize he can come close to touching 100 (mph),” he said. “… It’s not like he’s Greg Maddux. He’s Greg Maddux plus 10 mph. So yeah, he absolutely can be an ace. A great, great mind for pitching, and I’m just a big fan.”"

Rob Friedman - pitching Ninja

What Kirby is doing has literally never been done before with talent like this. If he can keep it up, we aren't just looking at a good season... we are looking at one of the best seasons ever when it comes to command.