I had a love-hate relationship with you.
I first saw you pitch in your Major League debut against my New York Mets during the 2013 season. I didn’t know who you were when the game started, but I sure did by the time it finished. You went 5 innings, allowing 1 run, while striking out 8 with your electric stuff.
You never looked back, going on to win the National League Rookie of the Year award. By that point, everyone knew you were special. Tommy John briefly derailed your career, but you were determined to come back even better, an attitude you showed since your days is Cuba.
I hated how good you were against the Mets. In 4 career starts, you had and ERA of 1.08, striking out 32 in 25 innings. It wasn’t fun watching my team look clueless at the plate, but it was fascinating watching you be so dynamic on the mound.
I loved what you were on and off the mound. You were yourself. You were charismatic, passionate, elite. You were everything I wanted our pitchers to be. You were good, and you knew it. You loved the game, and I loved you for that.
I loved the relationship you had with your grandmother. It reminds me of the relationship I have with my abuela. She took me to my first baseball game back in the Dominican Republic. She taught me everything I know about baseball.
Above all, I loved the fact that you were just a kid living your dream, and had fun doing it. It showed in the smile you wore across your face.
Your ill-time death punched us all in the mouth. I was hoping it was just a bad dream, but it’s not. The fact that we will never get to see you pitch again is not important. The fact that we lost someone so young, talented, and full of life is heart-breaking.
It was a joy watching you pitch.