Baseball Card of the Week: P.J.'s Big Day

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Happy P.J. Walters Day, everyone! 

What's that? You say you aren't familiar with P.J. Walters Day? Well, it's only the best damned day of the year...

In honor of the major league debut of the young Cardinal rookie today, I present to you this 2008 P.J. Walters card by Bowman. 
And just so you know a little bit more about what to look for when P.J. takes the mound today, I'll give you a quick scouting report on the kid from Alabama. 

P.J. is not, by any stretch of the imagination, what you would call overpowering. His fastball typically sits in the 86-88 mph range, topping out around 90. In fact, the word you'll probably hear most often when you read scouting reports about Walters is "pedestrian." That's a pretty good word for it, too. 

What Walters' heater lacks in velocity, though, it makes up for in movement, as it has squirrelly sinking life. In addition, P.J. possesses excellent command, making his fastball play up even more.

He may not light up the radar guns, but he usually gets the job done.
The best pitch in Walters' arsenal, though, is his change-up. By far. It isn't quite a screwball, but it's as close as you're going to see any time soon. The pitch features an unusually large amount of lateral break to the third base side of the plate, to go along with an off-the-table break that can tie hitters into knots as they flail away. 

Walters also features a slider, but it's definitely his third pitch; better than just a show pitch, but not by a whole lot. 

What will be important to watch for is whether P.J. is getting the ball down early; if he can keep the ball moving to the bottom of the zone, he should rack up plenty of ground-ball outs and weak, funny looking swings on his change-up. If not, well, Wrigley Field can be a very unforgiving place to pitch. 

Hopefully, Walters can get out to a strong start, and the Cards can hang a couple on Carlos Zambrano early. Big Z has been steadily declining the last couple of seasons, with a strikeout-to-walk ratio heading in the wrong direction since his 2004-05 dominance. We'll see if that continues, but one thing we do know is that if you can punch him in the mouth early, get a couple up on the board, you can get under Zambrano's skin, get him angry and overthrowing. 

Either way, good luck to P.J. in his first game in the big leagues. It's a tough road to take your first time out, with Wrigley Field and Zambrano on the menu, but Walters has proven nothing if not tenacious in his career thus far. 

Give 'em hell, kid. Give 'em hell. 

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