Scott Diamond defeated the White Sox on Wednesday without recording a single strikeout in 6 1/3 innings.
And that’s fairly unusual, if hardly unique. He’s the sixth starter this year to win a game without striking out a batter, joining Jeff Locke, Jeremy Guthrie, Jake Westbrook, Kyle Lohse and Joe Kelly.
What is far more remarkable is that it was Diamond’s seventh straight start with one or no strikeouts. The left-hander, who spent most of August and the beginning of September in the minors, hasn’t fanned more than one batter since July 1 against the Yankees.
According to the Baseball-reference Play Index, the last starter to have such a streak was the Orioles’ Dave Schmidt in 1989. He actually did it in nine straight starts, going 1-7 with a 7.51 ERA and five strikeouts in the span. Before that, Ricky Horton went seven straight in 1988 and Tommy John had eight in a row in 1985.
Since 2000, two pitchers had gone six starts in a row. If you guessed Kirk Rueter was one of them, you were right. He did it between 2002-03 and actually went 3-0 with a 3.18 ERA in the span. If you guessed Aaron Cook was the other, well, you were close (he got to five in a row twice). The other was John Rheinecker, and he wasn’t quite so successful. He went 0-3 with an 11.28 ERA in the six starts for the Rangers from 2006-07.
Diamond is 1-4 with a 6.37 ERA during his streak.
Diamond was one of the AL’s best rookie starters last year, going 12-9 with a 3.54 ERA, but some figured his low strikeout rate would catch up with him. He fanned 90 batters in 173 innings last year. This year, he has just 46 strikeouts in 118 2/3 innings, and he’s gone 6-11 with a 5.54 ERA. Half of those wins gave come against the White Sox.
Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:
Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.
The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?
Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.
The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.
I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.
ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.
MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.
Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.
Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: