On June 21 last year, Blue Jays reliever Brett Cecil surrendered four runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Orioles, bumping his ERA up to a ghastly 5.96. That would be the last time the lefty would allow an earned run that season.
Between June 24 and October 3, Cecil appeared in 37 games and yielded only two runs, both unearned. Over 31 2/3 innings in that span of time, opposing hitters racked up a mere 17 hits and four walks while striking out 44 times. Cecil’s streak continued into 2016, as he worked a scoreless inning with two strikeouts on Monday against the Rays. 38 consecutive appearances without allowing an earned run tied him with Craig Kimbrel for the all-time record, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith pointed out on Twitter. Earned runs became an official stat in 1912.
Cecil’s streak ended on Tuesday. Logan Forsythe hit a two-run home run off of Cecil in the bottom of the eighth to give the Rays a 3-2 lead. Cue “I Will Remember You” by Sarah McLachlan.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.