Alexander Torres arrived in Tampa Bay yesterday, to minimal fanfare, largely because the trumpeter had fallen asleep on his couch. That was wrong to do. Torres is exciting. He's been one of my favorite pitchers ever since he saved the Rays season in a relief appearance back in 2011. The following year, Torres lost all semblance of control, but after a good start this season in Durham he was back in the bigs as a spot reliever following David Price's trip to the disabled list.
What's so special about Torres? He's a little lefty with a low to mid 90s fastball that seems to jump out of his hand and that has very good movement. He's got a decent curve. But where he really stands out is with his mid 80s changeup. When I first saw him pitch back in 2011, my jaw dropped. Here, using numbers from Brooks Baseball, is a chart showing the movement of every Rays pitcher (and James Shields) with a notable changeup or splitter. It's from the catcher's perspective and I've flipped the sign to make the lefties (Torres, Price, and Moore) comparable. Click on the image to make it bigger.
Torres's changeup doesn't run as much as Matt Moore's, and it doesn't drop as much as Roberto Hernandez's or Alex Cobb's, but in terms of combined horizontal and vertical movement, no changeup on the Rays staff is better. You all know how crazily Rodney's change dives down and away from left handed hitters. Torres's does the same with righties, only more.
He may not be up long. Probably he'll head back to Durham within the next few days to continue working as a starter while Jake Odorizzi fills Price's spot in the rotation, but enjoy Torres while he's here, because he's showing one of the better pitches you'll see all year.