The Mets’ Jeremy Hefner was pulled from his start Thursday against the Phillies after failing to retire any of the seven batters he faced.
Hefner gave up six singles in a row, including a bunt single to Juan Pierre, and then walked Kevin Frandsen with the bases loaded before being replaced by Collin McHugh.
Since all three inherited runners came around to score of McHugh, Hefner was charged with seven earned runs.
Hefner is the fifth starter this year to leave without retiring a batter, but the first to do so due to ineffectiveness. Jered Weaver, P.J. Walters and Brandon Morrow were injured in their starts, and Zack Greinke was ejected from his.
The last starter to depart under circumstances similar to Hefner’s was the Cubs’ Randy Wells on May 28, 2010. He gave up hits to all six batters he faced before being removed from an outing against the Cardinals.
Hefner became the eighth starter since 2000 to give up seven runs without recording an out:
Armando Reynoso (Ari): Apr. 23, 2000 vs. SF
Dennis Tankersley (SD): Apr. 9, 2003 vs. SF
Paul Wilson (Cin): July 10, 2003 vs. Hou (8 R, 7 ER)
Ryan Vogelsong (Pit): Sept. 24, 2004 vs. Cin
Paul Wilson (Cin): May 6, 2005 vs. LAD (8 ER)
J.D. Durbin (Phi): Sept. 1, 2007 vs. Fla
Jason Marquis (Was): Apr. 18, 2010 vs. Mil
The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.
I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.
Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.
Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.
To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.