Give me strike throwers. Hitting a baseball at 90+ mph is hard enough, so if you don't have a Randy Johnson slider or a Masahiro Tanaka split, don't worry about. Throw strikes and trust the baseball gods to take care of the rest.
It worked for David Wells, for Chien-Ming Wang, and for (future Hall of Famer) Mike Mussina.
And now it's working for Chase Whitley.
Among starters with at least 30 inning pitched, Whitley trails only Doug Fister (another of my all-strikes, less-stuff dream team) for the MLB lead for lowest BB/9 with 0.80. Deputy Strike Machine Masahiro Tanaka's BB/9 is 1.35, just for point of comparison. Whitley's refusal to issue walks and his failure to allow home runs makes his early returns look sustainable if he can keep going at this pace.
Of course, I don't think he can keep going at this pace. Doubt and regression to the mean are the central pillars of my life. So the question is: if #WhitleyTime's performance isn't sustainable, what is?
Look: Chase Whitley is only pitching in the zone 49.5% of the time; that's the territory of A.J. Burnett (now that he's almost exclusively bad A.J.) and Hector Noesi (he didn't walk anyone in the minor leagues! I loved him).
The good news is that Whitley has been making that first pitch a strike just over 65% of the time–that's 20th in the league; Chris Sale, Stephen Strasburg territory. Pitching 101 is get the first strike then expand the zone. And other good news is that Whitley's getting enough swings and misses to rank 13th in MLB, between Zack Greinke and Max Scherzer.
While it's still too early for there to be bad news, there is (I think) sobering news: Whitley is hittable. I know, you're shocked. But I mean, very hittable. In the zone, opponents make contact on just shy of 90% of his pitches. That's Mark Buehrle, James Shields levels of contact. Those guys are great pitchers, and I wish either of them were on the Yankees right now (actually, I felt like the voice in the wilderness arguing that Buehrle was the piece the Yankees were missing when he was a free agent). But those are two guys who depend on their defense, and the Yankee defense is something less than stellar.
So enjoy WhitleyTime, revel in it and look forward to it. It might not always be as good as it's been these first few weeks, but I think it's going to be really good.