Sheinin: Magic dust, spin rates, and buy-in: How the Astros make good pitchers better

From Dave Sheinin at the Washington Post on October 15, 2018:

Relief pitcher Ryan Pressly was pondering the question before him, trying to figure out either how to explain something he may not fully understand yet or how much of the answer he was permitted to reveal, when at the locker next door, fellow reliever Collin McHugh helpfully stage-whispered the Houston Astros’ preferred answer: “Just say it’s the magic dust.”

The question, of course, was: How do the Astros get remarkable, unmistakable improvement out of seemingly every pitcher they acquire? (Helpful hint: it isn’t the magic dust.) And Pressly, a 29-year-old right-hander still new to the organization, is that question’s latest flesh-and-blood incarnation.

Pressly was a perfectly serviceable, occasionally excellent relief pitcher over parts of six seasons with the Minnesota Twins, with a 3.75 career ERA, one career save, a 1.303 WHIP and a strikeout ratio that had climbed steadily over those years until, by July 2018, it was among the highest in the league. It was that strikeout ratio, and the spectacular curveball behind it, that attracted the Astros, who sent two prospects to Minnesota in a trade for him on July 27.

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Originally published: October 15, 2018. Last Updated: October 15, 2018.