This is going to be a series of articles that I am going to write as a guide for you Spring Training dogs out there – someone to learn more about while you are out at the games. Yes, a “fish eye”. Gives a wider picture.
What to watch for: Closer or relief.
Why: 100mph “Swedish” fastball. Nuff said.
Basics: Swedish descent, grew up in Idaho. Mormon, completed two year service in Sweden, going door to door preaching and teaching for The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. In Swedish.
Today, we are focusing on Matt Lindstrom, acquired from the Mets (along with Henry Owens) in a trade (for Adam Bostick and Jason Vargas). He has some hype coming along with him. As one Marlins official remarked, he could throw a marshmallow through a battleship.
He has topped the 100 mph speed limit several times, most notably in Puerto Rico in winter ball where he was clocked at 102. He throws several pitches, a two seam fastball, a four seam fastball, a slider which tops out around 85-88 mph and is now working on a slurve which moves like a sinker.
What is more compelling is that he is refining his game, he is not just a fireballer who has no control. “Last year, I maintained my velocity every time I went out,” he said. “I was throwing 97-100 every time out. Now I can drive the ball down in the zone.” That last part, keeping the ball down, is a key thing for his success in the bigs, not just a key component for him to grab a job on this pitching staff. Rich Kranitz, the Marlins pitching coach, lists arguably as priority #1 for his pitchers to keep the ball down in the zone.
As for his priorities, he has them right. “I’m concerned about making the team first,” he said. “I think slowly but surely I could develop into a closer.”
Mike Jacobs, who played with Lindstrom in their Mets farm days, likes Lindstrom’s stuff. “The biggest thing for him is if he can get his mind right as far as being that bulldog kind of guy you need to be as a closer,” Jacobs said. “If he can get that mentality, he has a real good shot.”
Dan Uggla faced Lindstrom and gives a ringing endorsement, “His fastball explodes,” Uggla said. “It’s one of those things you can’t teach. If you aren’t cheating or ready for it, you aren’t going to hit it.”
And it seems this is the perfect place for Lindstrom with the brash, young talent that is on this roster. When asked if he was going to go back to Sweden, he said, “I’m going to go after we make the playoffs and the World Series.”
So, here’s to the Swedish meatball, and if Lindstrom is tossing it, at least it will be clocked at 100mph. Hopefully, he doesn’t toss any meatballs up to the plate.