Because it is so rare and because it is a little esoteric, I think we probably still didn’t get hyped enough about Hayden Wesneski’s immaculate inning last night. Again, that’s when a pitcher strikes out the side on just nine pitches.
Here is every pitch Wesneski threw in that inning:
For the Chicago Cubs, there have been just FOUR OTHER recorded immaculate innings in team history (LaTroy Hawkins (Sept. 11, 2004), Lynn McGlothen (Aug. 25, 1979), Bruce Sutter (Sept. 8, 1977) and Milt Pappas (Sept. 24, 1971)). Any time you’re only the fifth pitcher in an organization’s history to do a thing, it’s pretty special.
Even more fun is that Wesneski admitted he was totally thinking about history as it happened.
“It’s crazy,” Wesneski said, per Cubs.com. “You start thinking about it like the seventh, eighth pitch. And then the ninth one, you just kind of let it rip and hope that it happens.”
David Ross, a very well-traveled catcher himself, said he didn’t think he’d ever been a part of an immaculate inning. So that may have been his first in the game, too.
But Yan Gomes, who was catching Wesneski, couldn’t give him the same love. From Cubs.com:
Wesneski said he threw an immaculate inning against Stetson during his junior year with Sam Houston State, but it was “nothing like that.” As Wesneski headed off the field after the fifth, he was caught up in the moment and had a question for veteran catcher Yan Gomes.
“I go, ‘Yan, have you ever caught one of those?'” Wesneski said. “He goes, ‘Yeah, I’ve caught four or five of them.’ I was like, ‘Come on. Give me some love. At least a little bit of love.’ He still thought it was cool. It was still a really cool moment.”
“I probably should’ve let him have it,” Gomes joked. “Like, ‘Yeah, no, that’s my first one!’”
That’s hilarious. Grizzled vet just won’t give it to the kid. Nah, but I’m sure Gomes really did think it was a great moment, and felt some pride for it, too. He got to call the pitches, after all!
Cubs assistant pitching coach Daniel Moskos, who worked with Wesneski back in the Yankees’ farm system, was effusive in his praise for Wesneski’s current stuff, and future potential:
“What makes me excited about him is it’s not just the pitcher that we’re getting,” assistant pitching coach Daniel Moskos said in a conversation with the Sun-Times. “It’s the pitcher that we could potentially have in the future. Because when he’s not good at something, he wants to work on it, he wants to find the problem, what didn’t lead to success or what led to success. Let’s continue to do that, or let’s work on the adjustment. He’s just got a good head on his shoulders.”
Moskos went on to talk about the quick adjustments Wesneski has made with his slider location, trying not to leave it out over the middle of the plate because he wasn’t burying it enough glove-side. That was what happened on a couple homers against the Giants, and he quickly made the adjustment in his next outing against the Rockies. (His two run-scoring hits last night came on a sinker and a cutter, for what it’s worth.)
An immaculate inning is a rare thing, in part, because there’s some flukiness to it. Even good pitches get put in play sometimes, and close pitches are sometimes called balls. But you do have to have at least some baseline of command and stuff to pull it off – even for an inning – and it’s pretty tantalizing to see Wesneski do it as a rookie.
You are reminded that he got scorching hot in his final three outings at Triple-A Iowa (after some adjustment/optimizing time in a new organization?), and then he’s posted a 2.45 ERA (3.25 FIP) over his first four big league outings (22.0 IP).