Josh Satow was exactly what Pat Murphy said he’d be: a soft-tossing lefthander who gets by with his savvy and competitiveness. He stymied Houston in Arizona State’s 11-1 win Sunday, allowing just one run on six hits in a complete game while striking out eight and walking just one. Talking to Satow on the field afterward was interesting for a couple of reasons. First, the 5-foot-9 junior is one of the few players who stands eye-to-eye with me, which was refreshing after I spent the morning craning my neck to chat with giants like Ryan Flaherty and Casey Weathers of Vanderbilt and Matt Spencer of ASU. (Weathers, by the way, is listed at 6-foot-1 but might be taller than that. Or maybe it just seems like it because he has such a massive upper body. I digress.) The second thing that is striking about Satow, other than his diminutive build, is his thoughtfulness and intelligence. He is clearly a guy who holds no delusions about his own limitations and understands what he has to do to be successful.
“You can’t do anything that you’re not capable of, so just go out there and pitch your game,” Satow said. “We had a good game plan against them, throwing a lot of changeups and stuff like that. Establishing the fastball, and mostly using the changeups. We were told they were a fastball-hitting team, so I just tried to keep them off balance. My changeup is probably my best pitch in my repertoire (which also includes a curveball), but you don’t have your fastball unless you have your changeup. It’s just all about establishing the changeup in certain counts, try to keep them off balance, pitching backwards.”
Satow’s solid game plan made up for the fact that his fastball command wasn’t as good as usual, he said. Houston only took advantage once, on Bryan Pounds’ second-inning home run.
“I had a little trouble in with the home run, I left it middle in, thigh high, and the guy just got ahold of it,” Satow said. “Out of all the pitches I made today, that was probably the one mistake I made. I was pretty happy with my location and everything. At least they were swinging.”
So Arizona State leaves Houston with a pair of wins and a tough loss to Vanderbilt; not too shabby. The Sun Devils’ offense was by far the most impressive on display in Minute Maid Park this weekend, and there are reasons for optimism with their pitching staff as well. Satow is a proven competitor who figures to be a reliable Sunday starter in the Pac-10. Fellow lefties Brian Flores and Mike Parigi had respectable showings and should be solid weekend guys as well, and if one should falter then freshman righthander Mike Leake looks more than capable of sliding into a starting role. For now, Murphy wants to keep him in the closer role, where he can enter the game whenever he’s needed and pitch for multiple innings at a time. His five sparkling innings of relief Friday demonstrated that.