The first question I ask myself at a minor league game is does the starting pitcher have major league stuff? Clearwater Threshers starting pitcher last night Maurico Llovera showed he has an electric arm, the problem is you never know what you are going to get from him game to game, inning to inning or even batter to batter.
The 22-year-old Llovera showed a major league arm in the third inning last night but by the fourth inning he was done. After retiring the Palm Beach Cardinals in turn in the third, you wanted him promoted to Reading. By the fourth inning, he was out of the game giving up five runs on five hits, including a three-run homer. Throw in a HBP, a walk and the inning was a disaster except for a strikeout in the middle of the mess.
Llovera clearly has a major league pitching repertoire including a 95-96 fastball, a high 80’s change up and a knee-buckling breaking pitch in the low 80’s. No wonder he has 36 strikeouts in 31 inning in his seven appearances.
However, consistency has been his problem. In four of his six starts, he has held the opposition to 2 or less runs. But in his last two starts, he has run out of gas in the middle innings. In one start he was done after giving up three runs in the fifth inning and last night he could not make it out of the fourth inning after giving up the five spot.
It’s like day and night when Llovera is on the mound. Just take a look at the two strikeouts he racked up in the third inning last night. He looked like a major league pitcher with electric stuff. Those two Cardinal batters had no chance against him. Watch the two strikeouts HERE.
In the first strikeout, he threw four straight fastballs at 95-96 mph and fooled the batter swinging on a 85 mph breaking pitch. For the next batter, he opened with 95 heat then threw three off-speed pitches including an 81 mph breaking ball, an 89 mph change up and finished him off with another 81 mph breaking ball.
Llovera has major league stuff but not in the middle innings lately. Maybe he has a closer role in his future.