A’s left-hander Sean Doolittle has posted excellent numbers since moving from first base to the mound in the minors, including a 3.09 ERA and 120 strikeouts in 116 innings through his first two seasons as a big leaguer.
This season he moved into the closer role when Jim Johnson struggled, converting eight saves so far, and Doolittle’s numbers now include an absolutely ridiculous 46-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 33 innings.
Seriously. He’s thrown 33 innings this season and has 46 strikeouts compared to one walk.
To get a sense of how absurd that is, here are the best K/BB ratios in the history of baseball among all pitchers with at least 30 innings in a season:
SEAN DOOLITTLE 2014 46.00
Dennis Eckersley 1989 18.33
Dennis Eckersley 1990 18.25
Koji Uehara 2013 14.33
Sergio Romo 2011 14.00
Mariano Rivera 2008 12.83
I mean, really.
In the entire history of baseball there are only 17 instances of a pitcher throwing at least 30 innings in a season with more than 10 strikeouts per walk. Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley has the two best strikeout-to-walk ratios in baseball history at 18.33-to-1 in 1989 and 18.25-to-1 in 1990. That’s amazing, as were the seasons listed above from Koji Uehara last year, Sergio Romo in 2011, and Mariano Rivera in 2008. Yet what Doolittle is doing right now for the A’s makes those look like nothing special.
Oh, and Doolittle now has the second-best strikeout-to-walk ratio of all time among pitchers with 100 or more career innings at 6.64, behind only Uehara at 8.90. Five years ago he was a Triple-A first baseman hitting .267 with an .811 OPS for the A’s affiliate in Sacramento. Baseball is crazy, man.
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.
Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.
Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.
Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):
We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.