Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press has an interesting story about former major leaguer Andy Van Hekken, who is reportedly looking to resurrect his MLB career this offseason. “I’ve been thinking about it over the last few years,” Van Hekken told Fenech. “I always wanted to come back and give it another try to get back to the big leagues and see if I could do it.”
The 38-year-old left-hander hasn’t pitched in a big league game since 2002 — his first and only foray into the majors — but he hasn’t been sitting idly by for the last 16 years, either. He pitched for the Tigers, Braves, Reds, Royals and Astros’ minor-league affiliates until 2012, when he signed on with the Nexen Heroes of KBO. Over the last six seasons in Korea, the veteran lefty held a 73-42 record in 156 starts and used a potent fastball/forkball combo to produce a cumulative 3.56 ERA, 2.9 BB/9 and 8.4 SO/9 through 925 2/3 innings.
Were this any other offseason, it might not be impossible for Van Hekken to find a major league suitor or two. He’s healthy and shown himself to be remarkably productive given his age and lack of major league experience. Even so, Fenech adds, teams are bound to be more interested in signing one of the 120+ free agents currently available, rather than taking a flyer on a former prospect who impressed in his major league debut nearly two decades ago.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.