Lancaster, California —— San Francisco Giants prospect Matt Krook earned his first win of the 2017 season in the best start of his career late last week for the San Jose Giants, a six-inning stint on the road at Lancaster where he allowed just two runs on three hits and—most importantly for the left-handed pitcher—only two walks, against one strikeout.
Matt Krook’s command issues have been previously discussed in this space, but it was in that May 25 start at Lancaster and the one immediately preceding it against Modesto that he started doing something noticeably different compared to our having seen him several times back in April: he spent almost the entire game living on his fastball, rarely going to off-speed pitches, in a bid to find and maintain some semblance of consistency in his mechanics and release point.
All night in this May 25 start, Krook sat 89-92 mph with his fastball, and almost exclusively used it over, and over, and over again. He dropped in a few 81-83 mph sliders, and flashed a very rare curveball or two, but for the most part was limited to using just the fastball in a bid to turn around a very bad start to the season. Now that he’s had two decent starts in a row, it looks like things might be slowly coming together. He’s still inconsistent in his stride length, landing position, and release point, and he must figure out how to align his long, lanky body to get those things all lined up, but at least it seems the San Francisco Giants are focusing on that now through pitch-calling simplification while letting Krook work his way out of it in game situations.
Matt Krook Video — May 25 @ Lancaster
Here’s a good look at Matt Krook’s fastball command and movement in a series of warm-up tosses he had through his six innings in Lancaster on the 25th:
And here is every pitch Matt Krook threw during that game, which marked the first win of his 2017 season and just the second win of his career:
There are still miles to go here before Matt Krook is fully right, and it’s obviously unsustainable to just throw a fastball against High-A lineups two and three times through. That said, the lefty is on the right track right now and it’s a good recovery from a very, very bad start to the year. I’d expect him to begin mixing in more breaking balls slowly as the situation allows for it, and maybe in a best-case scenario, in another few starts he’ll have totally washed away the memory of his brutal first six weeks in the Cal League (0-5 through his first six starts with a 10.19 ERA and 27 walks in 17.2 innings pitched).
Of course, knowing he had some of these command issues in college, as well, it’s likely that he’ll always struggle somewhat with command. The biggest long-term question, then, is whether he can harness it well enough to survive as a starter with his potentially electric stuff, or if his lack of consistency to the strike zone will doom him early. Krook is set to get the ball again on Thursday at home against Lake Elsinore; it’ll be interesting to see how he mixes pitches there and if he can build off two decent starts in a row.
In this Matt Krook / San Francisco Giants analysis: