Sunday, June 22, 2008

Walking Is Not An Option

Baseball fans who don't like bases on balls have had two rookie pitchers to follow recently. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim righthander Jose Arredondo made his major league debut on May 14 against the Chicago White Sox, gave up a home run to the first batter he faced, and has been on a roll ever since. Well, that's not precisely true: he did have a hiccup of an outing against the Mets on June 16, but an ERA of 1.76 through your first 15 2/3 major league innings is nothing to sniff at. In his first fourteen outings, Arredondo struck out twelve batters and walked none. He finally issued his first walk yesterday to Jayson Werth and followed that up promptly with another walk to Chris Coste before departing the game.

Providing a contrast to Jose Arredondo's steady ascent up through the Angels' minor league system is 31-year-old Milwaukee Brewers righthander Mark DiFelice. Drafted by the Colorado Rockies in the 15th round of the 1998 draft out of Western Carolina University, DiFelice spent six years in the Rockies' minor league system without putting up an ERA above 3.87 or a WHIP over 1.29. Unfortunately for him, he only spent eight games at AAA in that span before being released by the Rockies at the end of March 2004. Signed shortly thereafter by the Orioles, DiFelice spent 2004 as a reliever for the AAA Ottawa Lynx. A rough 2005 for Washington AAA affiliate New Orleans banished him to the independent Atlantic League. Solid pitching in 2005 and 2006 got him a shot with the Brewers in 2007 and he split that year between AA Huntsville and AAA Nashville. An injury in spring training put him on the shelf to start this season, but after four strong starts in Nashville, including a sparkling 28:1 K:BB ratio, he got a long-awaited call-up to the major leagues. A rough debut on May 18 at Fenway Park has been followed by generally good long relief outings. Since being called up, DiFelice has pitched in ten games totaling 13 2/3 IP with 16 strikeouts and zero walks.

I bring up these two pitchers because I was curious about their respective ranks on the list of consecutive games without issuing a walk to start a career. Since 1956, only twelve pitchers have reached ten games in a row to start a career without issuing a walk. Only twenty-five guys have reached eight.

Consecutive Games Without Issuing a Base on Balls to Start a Career

Interestingly, Bart Evans never walked a batter in the major leagues. His eight games pitched in 1998 were all he'd ever get in the show. If you're a fan of not walking batters or just like back-from-the-indy-leagues major leaguers, keep an eye on Mark DiFelice in upcoming days.

No comments: