Thursday, September 9, 2010

What Color is Your 'Parachute Changeup'?

"Tanner Scheppers" might sound more like the kid whose books you used to dump in the junior high school hallway than the potential 2010 MVP and 2011 Cy Young Award winner, but Sports Illustrated says Scheppers might be the missing link the Texas Rangers are looking for as summer turns to fall.

Scheppers features a devastating batch of arrows in his quiver, says SI, including a "parachute changeup."

"With a high-90s fastball, a looping curve and a parachute changeup, the 23-year-old Scheppers has the repertoire to be a dominant starter."

Pitchers are known to "pull the string" on a good changeup, but it appears the "string" is sometimes a ripcord.

Scheppers isn't the only one with a parachute changeup.

Twins pitcher Francisco Liriano used to have one, and may have one again, wrote at the start of the season.

"Even with some of his velocity returning Liriano isn't the unhittable phenom who overpowered the league with a mid-90s fastball, parachute changeup, and high-80s slider of death in 2006."

When you think devastating changeup, you of course think of Liriano's old teammate, Johan Santana.

"He's a power pitcher, just like Randy Johnson...he's got a parachute changeup...he's definitely the best lefty in the league," Mike Sweeney said on

Then there's Cole Hamels, whom Denver Post described in 2009 as "World Series MVP a year ago with outstanding fastball and a parachute changeup he'll throw on any count."

While "parachute changeup" kicks up a modest 700-plus links in Google, the phrase actually goes back at least a decade. David Cone used the expression to describe the change-of-pace possessed by Pedro Martinez, then of the Red Sox, after a 17 K performance against the Yankees back in 1999.

Coming full circle to its Tanner Scheppers descrip, the Coney quote also comes from Sports Illustrated:

"He had three dominating pitches—an overpowering fastball, a knee-buckling curve and a parachute changeup. I don't think I've ever seen anyone with all three."
Scheppers and his sky-diving sinker may play a key relief role for the Rangers in the playoffs. And with Pedro having more lives than Jason from Friday the 13th, who knows if Martinez--and his paratropping pitch--will end up on the hill for a playoff team in October.

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