As I do during the lead-up to most Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana seasons I spent a fair amount of my time this October bemoaning that my team, Estrellas Orientales, wasn’t making any signings that were going to impact the roster in a positive way. I’ve been an Estrellas fan for a few years now and bemoaning their lack of offseason moves has become a yearly tradition that I know will come around like clockwork. When you tell me that their biggest off-season pitching move was bringing in Nabil Crismatt, I’m going to be a little upset.
Only, Crismatt has proven to be a great signing. He’s only started four games, but he has been dominant in every one of his starts. He’s anchored a rotation that needed an anchor and has been a bright spot in an otherwise routinely mediocre Estrellas season. It’s not like Crismatt is new to winter ball either, this isn’t the Colombian’s first forway into winter ball. Heck, it’s not even his first season in LIDOM. Yet, hitters have been baffled by his approach on the mound and haven’t really been able to find any sort of answer to what he’s offering up.
So far during the 2020-2021 season, the right-hander has pitched 18 innings and complied a 1.50 ERA and 1.060 WHIP. The innings count is a mite concerning, but it’s not unusual in LIDOM for even starters who are cruising to be pulled early. Plus, Crismatt is a reliever in the big leagues and it should be expected that it will take him a little while longer to stretch his arm out and go deeper into games. There’s also the option that he may have a pretty strict pitch limit set forth by his big league club, the St. Louis Cardinals, and Estrellas are simply adhering to what the Cardinals want. Either way, Crismatt has struck out 17 and only walked 2 this season while compiling a mightily impressive ERA+ of 212.
How Crismatt is doing this is interesting. His profile in Major League Baseball last year was of a guy who relied mainly on his change-up and curveball while scantly throwing his fourseam fastball and sinker. That was a departure from his approach in his previous seasons. It’s a change that makes sense, his fourseamer tops out around 91mph after all. Crismatt started working backward last year and though he didn’t see a lot of action with the Cardinals he did look promisingly different when he did pitch. He has carried over his new approach to Estrellas and so far has the results to show for his new way of attacking hitters.
There’s still time for hitters to figure out what Crismatt has changed. If they do it will be interesting to see how Crismatt adapts. So far LIDOM hitters have failed to adjust to the changes the soft-tossing righty has made. Perhaps they never will adjust, there’s just as much of a chance that Crismatt has finally found a way of utilizing his pitches that best maximizes his talents. For Estrellas’ sake, this has to happen. If this team has any hopes of making the playoffs this year they need Crismatt to continue pitching like an ace. Right now it’s looking like Crismatt has turned a corner, and even if he truly hasn’t, Estrellas need to ride out his change of fortune as long as they possibly can.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Cortesia