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.
Yankees starter Luis Severino pitched last Friday, putting him on track to start Wednesday’s series finale against the Twins. The Yankees mulled the possibility of pushing him back to start on Friday against the Blue Jays after an off day on Thursday so that the Twins wouldn’t get an early look at Severino in a potential AL Wild Card matchup.
However, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports that Severino will indeed start on Wednesday against the Twins instead of Masahiro Tanaka. Hoch adds that Severino’s preference is to pitch on regular rest.
Severino, 23, has been the Yankees’ best starter this year and would be the most reliable arm in a must-win game. The right-hander is carrying a 13-6 record with a 2.93 ERA and a 218/49 K/BB ratio in 184 1/3 innings.
Entering Tuesday’s action, the Yankees hold a five-game lead over the Twins for the first Wild Card slot. The Angels hold a 1.5-game lead over the Angels for the second slot. The Yankees are also very much in the AL East race, trailing the Red Sox by only three games with 12 games left in the regular season.
The claim of “East Coast Bias” is often hurled as an accusation of smug superiority, and it’s often met with denial, but it’s a thing. It’s not the exact thing the west coast people think it is — it’s not hate, it’s just a function of time zones and TV ratings — but there are certainly factors that cause stuff that happens in California to get shorter shrift than that which happens back east, where most of the national media people are.
One thing getting short shrift this year: the performance of Oakland A’s first baseman Matt Olson, which one has to imagine would be getting all kinds of press if he played back east.
Wait, we don’t have to imagine that at all. Because Olson is doing basically the exact same thing Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez did last year, and Sanchez got tons of headlines for it while I’m guessing most baseball fans who either (a) live outside of the Bay Area; or (b) aren’t big fantasy players, attuned to all of the latest callups, haven’t heard Olson’s name much if at all . Their respective lines:
- Sanchez 2016: 53 games, .299/.376/.657, 20 HR, 168 OPS+
- Olson 2017: 54 games, .267/.360/.663, 22 HR 168 OPS+
Sanchez’s rate stats were better but Olson is doing it in tougher parks for hitters. Obviously Sanchez is catching and Olson playing the corner, but a dude coming out of the minors to put up these kinds of numbers in the final two months of the season is rare. That it’s happening again, in almost the same way, is quite the thing.
Part of the reason for the discrepancy in press is that Sanchez was making a strong argument for the Rookie of the Year Award despite playing less than half the season whereas Olson has no shot given what Aaron Judge has done this year. But I’m guessing more of it is simply a function of Olson’s games starting at 10:30 or so back east and most of us not seeing what he does unless we look at the box scores the next day.
Still, Olson, the A’s first round pick from 2012, is not someone to sleep on. And, given that he hit 23 homers in 79 minor league games this year — the last guy to hit 20 in both the bigs and minors in the same year was Giancarlo Stanton — he’s not a fluke. Indeed, he’s one of the few rays of sunshine for the Oakland Athletics. And someone to whom us folks back east should pay a bit more attention.