Coming out of Stanford, there was an interesting debate about whether Chris Viall belonged in the rotation or in the bullpen. Certainly, there is always the temptation to use a guy out of the bullpen when a pitcher has the ability to ramp his fastball up to 101 MPH.
Given the two options, the Mets have given their 2016 sixth round draft pick an opportunity to prove himself as a starter. Entering this season, 11 of Viall’s 18 appearances were starts.
In those starts, he was 0-5 with a 5.40 ERA. He has only pitched the five innings needed to qualify for a win just once.
Despite his not having yet won a game as a starter, he opened the season as a starter in the Columbia Fireflies pitching rotation.
In his first start of the season, he showed glimpses why the Mets continue to use him in the rotation. He allowed just one earned run and struck out six. However, with him throwing 89 pitches, he failed to pitch the five innings needed to qualify for the win in Columbia’s 6-2 victory.
Yesterday, Viall would finally get his first victory in his best start as a professional.
Viall allowed just one earned run on two hits and four walks over five innings. Astoundingly, Viall would strike out 11 out of the 22 batters he would face.
This set the tone for the Fireflies who set a franchise record with 17 strikeouts in the game.
So far this season, Viall’s 11 strikeouts are the most by any Mets minor leaguer in a start, and and his 16 strikeouts this year is the most among Mets minor leaguers.
With his first win and double digit strikeout game, it will be interesting to see where Viall goes from here.