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.
The Rays were busy over the weekend, trading starter Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, designating All-Star outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment, and then picking up C.J. Cron in a deal with the Angels. The Rays saved about $4 million — Odorizzi’s $6.3 million less Cron’s $2.3 million salary — and picked up a prospect. They’re still on the hook for Dickerson’s $5.95 million salary until they can find a trade partner, which seems likely.
Those are some head-scratching moves if you’re a Rays fan or a member of the Rays. Dickerson hit .282/.325/.490 with 27 home runs, 62 RBI, and 84 runs scored in 629 plate appearances last season, part of which resulted in his first trip to the All-Star Game. Designating him for assignment is strictly a financial move, assuming he can be traded. The Rays are currently operating with a payroll below $70 million. This comes just a week and a half after Rays ownership proposed the public footing most of the bill for the club’s new stadium. And the Rays had traded third baseman Evan Longoria — then the face of the franchise — to the Giants earlier this offseason.
Longoria expressed sympathy for Rays fans for having to put up with this. Via Andrew Baggarly, Longoria said of the curious Dickerson move, “I just kind of feel sorry for the Rays fan base. … I’m not going to take too many shots but it’s pretty obvious that guy is a valuable player and didn’t deserve to be DFAd. Corey was our best player last year.”
Longoria isn’t quite on the money there. By WAR, Dickerson ranked fifth among position players on the team, according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs is also in agreement. Still, it’s indisputable that Dickerson, who turns 29 years old this May, more than pulled his weight. The Rays do not have a surfeit of starting outfielders, so it wasn’t like they were making room for other capable players. Mallex Smith, who put up a .684 OPS in 282 PA last year, is slated to start in left field at the moment. Designating Dickerson for assignment, as well as trading Longoria and Odorizzi, were simply cost-cutting decisions.
The Rays’ M.O. has been part of the problem leading to the current stagnant free agent market (sans Eric Hosmer‘s eight-year deal on Saturday). Teams like the Rays, Phillies, Reds, and Tigers have been explicitly putting out non-competitive teams in order to facilitate a rebuilding process. Longoria is right to express sympathy for Rays fans, who see their favorite team worsening a roster that went 80-82 last year. The Rays haven’t finished at .500 or above since 2013 and doesn’t figure to halt the streak this year.