WQCS Header Background Image
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

When You Hear The 'Heat,' The Pitcher's Put A Little Extra Mustard On It


It's time once again for our regular segment Words You'll Hear. That's where we try to understand some of the stories we'll be hearing more about in the coming days. And we do that by parsing some of the words associated with those stories. Today our word is heater, and, no, it's not that portable thing under your desk that keeps you warm when your colleagues insist on blasting the AC. No, we are talking about the heater in baseball. We're going to be hearing the word a lot when the World Series begins Tuesday between the Kansas City Royals and the New York Mets. NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman is going to help us. And obviously, we're going to switch it up today because I was a little too Mets-centric (ph) yesterday. I trying - in our Barber Shop segment, I was still kind of feeling the glow, so, Tom, you're going to keep me in check, right? Keep it all balanced and nice, right?

TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: (Laughter) I will try. I will try, Michel.

MARTIN: All right. Well, thank you. Heater - what is it, and why are we going to hear it so much as the series unfolds?

GOLDMAN: It's a fastball - a fast fastball - 95 miles per hour and higher. And you're going to hear about it because the Mets, in particular, offer a collection of starting pitchers who throw heaters and throw them for a long time - six or seven innings over a game. You know, often, you'll see the best blazing fastballs from relief pitchers who deliver heaters for, you know, an inning, maybe two.

But New York's Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard, Steven Matz - how hard do they throw? Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud has had to repair his mitt a couple of times recently because of the pummeling it was taking from those pitchers. Now, of course, the Royals have some pitchers who can bring the heaters, but most of their high velocity stuff, you know, comes from the bullpen - Kelvin Herrera, closer Wade Davis, in particular.

MARTIN: So you know the old adage in the playoffs is that pitching beats hitting, right?


MARTIN: But we've got a hitter in particular who's been turning that adage upside down. And I'm not being a homer here, I swear, but...


MARTIN: Promise you. New York second baseman Dan Murphy...

GOLDMAN: Even people in Kansas City acknowledge Daniel Murphy. Yeah.

MARTIN: Exactly. He's becoming - he's having this record-setting post-season. And how much of an impact do you think he's going to have?

GOLDMAN: Well, if the balls keep flying out of the park when he hits it, a lot. He's already had a huge impact for the Mets this post-season - seven home runs, including the record everyone's talking about - home runs in six straight games. Also, 11 runs batted in. You know, he's been a good hitter, but not a power hitter. And Mets' new hitting coach Kevin Long has really helped Murphy unleash the power within. A former player described this idea of staying in that hitting zone longer like slicing a banana in half horizontally. Think of it like slicing a couple of bananas in Murphy's case, and the balls are really just powering off his bat.

MARTIN: So I promised our Royals fans that I would even it up today after expressing my joy about the Mets yesterday.

GOLDMAN: (Laughter).

MARTIN: And I'm sorry. You have to be a Mets fan to understand. It's a tribal thing. I mean, I remember when I was in school in '69, they actually played the games in school assemblies, OK? I'm just letting you know that this is...

GOLDMAN: What a great time to be in school.

MARTIN: (Laughter) Exactly. It just - this is something inculcated from a very young age. I'm just letting everybody know. But I promised our Royals fans I would even it up today, so what do the Royals have going for them, heading into the series?

GOLDMAN: Oh, man - a lot. You know, a very savvy line up with hitters who actually do quite well against opposing heaters. They hit the fastball well. They get on-base, and they run the bases well. They're a great defensive team. They've committed only one error in their 11 playoff games, and they have great relief pitching. Kansas City almost won the World Series last season. They lost in seven games to San Francisco. The Royals also have home field advantage. Michel, I'm really sorry about this, but I see them winning.


MARTIN: Goodbye. That's NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman. The World Series begins Tuesday night in Kansas City. Thank you, Tom.

GOLDMAN: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.