It is time to start wondering if Yusmeiro Petit is the real deal, a guy who is embracing true stardom, or is a pitcher who is having flashes of greatness intermingled with hard knocks.
Is this guy the second coming of Sandy Koufax, or is he just one in another long line of young pitchers having a moment? Or is he actually finally hitting his stride at age 29?
Tuesday night, Petit, who earlier this summer set a Major League record by retiring 46 straight hitters, hurled an impressive five-hitter for the San Francisco Giants. He was the complete-game victor over the Arizona Diamondbacks in a 5-1 triumph in which he threw just 84 pitches. Of those tosses 68 were strikes. The Diamondbacks couldn’t stand around waiting for him to miss the strike zone. Petit fanned nine.
Petit came up one strike short of a perfect game last September, allowing a hit with two outs in the ninth inning of a game, and then strung together his perfect run of retiring enemy batters mostly as a reliever.
Explaining Petit's run
When the Giants pulled Tim Lincecum from the rotation they made Petit a starter and look what’s happening on that front. Try explaining stuff like this. Baseball, as Joe Garagiola once said, is indeed a funny game. He meant funny hah-hah, but it is also funny as in strange.
There are so many games spread over so many months that hot streaks and cold streaks inevitably occur. The way All-Stardom is measured is by consistency and setting a high standard over a long period of time. That is why it is challenging to figure out what the right-hander from Venezuela’s recent brilliant pitching actually means.
Credit manager Bruce Bochy for recognizing that Petit is in a zone an at least taking advantage of that by inserting him into the starting rotation. Bochy isn’t asking questions about the how or the why, he is merely looking at the talent, assessing it, and realizing how it can best be used as the Giants take a run at qualifying for the National League playoffs.
Petit's career to date
Petit broke into the majors in 2006 with the then-Florida Marlins and also played for Arizona before becoming a member of the Giants in 2012. He has been a free agent and designated for assignment as teams gave up on him. He has never been a big winner and in fact was hardly ever even a winner in his travels. In 2009, Petit’s last season with Arizona, he finished 3-10.
It has only been since Petit joined the Giants that he has demonstrated the harnessed skills that had only previously been shown in short bursts. In 2013, Petit went 4-1 for San Francisco. Even now, with his mow-‘em-down pitching, Petit is just 5-3 for the Giants this year.
What to make of this sudden excellence game after game? Is there really an explanation for the abrupt emergence of Petit? For sure, in recent weeks Petit has been living a dream. For someone on the cusp of 30, it is an overdue dream with delayed gratification.
Maybe Petit’s success will end with his next starting gig and he will surrender eight earned runs in two innings or something. But right now the guy is on a high and he deserves whatever accolades come his way.