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Consecutive Appearances of at Most 1 Inning to Start a Career

Posted by Raphy on May 31, 2011

In his short career, Angels rookie closer Jordan Walden has now appeared in 42 games. In all but 2 of those games, Walden has pitched exactly one inning. In the other 2 games Walden retired one batter. Those 42 consecutive games without throwing more than one inning at the start of a career are by far the most from any pitcher since 1919 (and probably before, as well.) Here are the longest streaks since 1919 (through yesterday's games).

Rk Strk Start End Games W L GS CG SHO GF SV IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA HBP WP BK Tm
1 Jordan Walden 2010-08-22 2011-05-29 42 0 2 0 0 0 20 13 40.2 35 13 13 20 49 1 2.88 0 4 1 LAA
2 Kazuhiro Sasaki 2000-04-05 2000-07-01 32 1 5 0 0 0 30 16 30.1 25 16 13 17 38 6 3.86 0 1 0 SEA
3 Macay McBride 2005-07-22 2006-05-05 25 1 0 0 0 0 4 1 14.2 19 14 11 8 22 0 6.75 0 2 0 ATL
4 Jose Valverde 2003-06-01 2003-07-23 23 1 0 0 0 0 19 9 20.2 13 7 4 11 27 2 1.74 1 1 0 ARI
5 Tony Cogan 2001-04-02 2001-06-19 23 0 2 0 0 0 3 0 14.0 19 10 10 6 9 5 6.43 3 1 0 KCR
6 Joe Paterson 2011-04-02 2011-05-26 22 0 0 0 0 0 6 1 11.2 7 1 1 5 11 0 0.77 1 0 0 ARI
7 Wesley Wright 2008-03-31 2008-05-14 20 3 0 0 0 0 4 0 14.0 9 6 5 8 12 1 3.21 0 1 0 HOU
8 Jordan Norberto 2010-04-06 2010-08-07 19 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 9.2 8 9 9 12 8 1 8.38 0 1 0 ARI
9 Juan Alvarez 1999-09-01 2000-09-30 19 0 1 0 0 0 4 0 9.0 15 10 10 11 6 3 10.00 0 2 0 ANA
10 Brent Leach 2009-05-06 2009-06-12 18 1 0 0 0 0 4 0 11.0 8 5 5 5 12 0 4.09 0 3 0 LAD
11 Jake McGee 2010-09-14 2011-04-21 17 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 10.0 10 4 4 6 8 1 3.60 0 0 0 TBR
12 Jailen Peguero 2007-06-08 2007-09-23 17 1 0 0 0 0 6 0 13.0 14 10 10 11 8 2 6.92 1 1 0 ARI
13 Chris Booker 2005-09-05 2007-07-25 17 0 1 0 0 0 4 0 11.1 17 19 18 9 10 7 14.29 0 2 0 CIN-KCR-WSN
14 Blaine Boyer 2005-06-12 2005-07-22 17 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 15.0 13 4 4 9 12 1 2.40 1 2 0 ATL
15 Duaner Sanchez 2002-06-14 2004-04-06 17 1 0 0 0 0 7 0 13.1 21 17 17 8 10 4 11.48 2 0 0 ARI-PIT-LAD
16 Mike Gonzalez 2003-08-11 2003-09-21 16 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 8.1 7 7 7 6 6 4 7.56 0 1 0 PIT
17 Takahito Nomura 2002-04-03 2002-05-05 16 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 9.2 8 8 8 10 8 2 7.45 2 2 0 MIL
18 Javier Lopez 2003-04-01 2003-05-08 15 1 0 0 0 0 4 0 11.2 7 3 2 2 10 0 1.54 0 0 0 COL
19 Tim Byrdak 1998-08-07 1999-07-11 15 0 2 0 0 0 3 1 9.2 14 12 11 7 5 4 10.24 1 1 0 KCR
20 Dale Polley 1996-06-23 1996-08-08 15 1 0 0 0 0 5 0 10.1 11 9 9 4 8 2 7.84 0 0 0 NYY
21 Michael Stutes 2011-04-25 2011-05-27 14 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 10.2 8 3 3 5 12 1 2.53 0 0 0 PHI
22 Greg Burke 2009-05-16 2009-06-13 14 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 12.2 11 4 3 2 12 0 2.13 0 0 0 SDP
23 Scott Munter 2005-05-11 2005-06-05 14 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 10.2 14 5 2 1 5 0 1.69 0 0 0 SFG
24 Paul Shuey 1994-05-08 1994-06-26 14 0 1 0 0 0 11 5 11.2 14 11 11 12 16 1 8.49 0 4 0 CLE
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/31/2011.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 31st, 2011 at 11:49 pm and is filed under Streak Finders. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

19 Responses to “Consecutive Appearances of at Most 1 Inning to Start a Career”

  1. Johnny Twisto Says:

    While I'm not going to go to the effort of trying to prove it, I feel 100% certain that no one matched this prior to 1919.

  2. I hope this is the beginning of the end of this completely nonsensical overspecialization of relievers. Someone, somewhere is going to have to wake up some morning and realize that having the best pitcher in your bullpen pitch 50 or 60 innings a year, many with a 3 run lead is just a complete waste of talent.

  3. Nash Bruce Says:

    @2: Agree, totally.

  4. Hartvig, how dare you suggest that a 1-run lead with runners on the bases and 1 out in the 8th is a more important situation for your "closer" than bases empty, 3-run lead in the 9th? Must be rough for those poor closers to get three whole guys out as many as 60 times a season and getting paid only a few million.

    We still need HTML sarcasm tags

  5. Detroit Michael Says:

    Fun post. Thanks, Raphy.

    The leaderboard has perhaps three other active streaks, suggesting that Walden will not be the long-term recordholder.

  6. The mentality of using closers in the current fashion is going to be hard to break and will require a manager that embraces sabermetrics while being heedless to knee-jerk criticism from ignorant fans, media, and management. It will almost certainly necessarily require that the manager be in a small market managing a team with few expectations of success, that his 'experiment' be successful, and that we deprecate, to a degree, the value of saves (and holds, which are terribly cheap), and come up with a better stat: the rally kill. I don't know if any baseball site or statistician measures such a thing but I was thinking about it the other day and the Rally Kill would be a nice stat (though such a stat should encompass preserving a tie as well as preventing insurance runs from being scored, since a rally is generally understood to be when the trailing team erases a decifit). It would be credited to any reliever in the last three innings or extra innings that enters the game not at the beginning of the inning but mid-inning, and with at least one runner on base, and does a good job preventing runs from scoring.

    Obviously being tasked with preserving a one-run lead when entering a game with a bases-loaded situation and no outs is a tall order, and being asked to preserve a two-run lead with a runner on first and no outs isn't the stuff of heroics, but I think there are lots of late-game situations where an ace reliever could be inserted into someone's mess and maybe one day we'll have a stat for such situations that is not only recorded (it may be recorded some places already), but recognized by all who follow the game and further recognized as probably the most important thing a reliever can do.

  7. Fun post. Thanks

  8. Walden has a long way to go for the "career record streak". Assuming I have used the streak finder correctly, it gives Trevor Hoffman as having pitched 340 consecutive games from October 1, 2004 to September 29, 2010 without ever having recorded more than 3 outs. Hoffman also had a streak of 64 games from September 15, 2002 to September 18, 2004, which would have put him over 400 consecutive games if he had not pitched 1.1 innings on 9/25/2004 and 2.0 innings on 9/28/2004.

    I thought the record holder might be Mike Myers, as he has the lowest ratio of IP to games of anyone with more than 500 IP - he pitched in 883 games and pitched only 541 2/3 innings, which means that he averaged less than 2/3 of an IP in each appearance. But his longest streak appears to be 46 games - seems he had the habit of pitching 1/3 of an inning here, 2/3 of an inning there, and then 2 1/3 innings every now and then (he has a few streaks of 40 such games). Walden's 42 game streak is tied for 132nd all-time (with 2 Mike Myers streaks).

  9. John Autin Says:

    Ironically, Walden was a starting pitcher his first 3 years in the minors, making 55 starts before his first relief appearance in 2010.

    His minor-league record makes the conversion to relief rather puzzling. Walden was successful in Rookie and Class-A ball (2007-08, age 19-20), with a combined 2.85 ERA in 220 IP, with 204 Ks against 73 walks and 171 hits. He had a rough and abbreviated year at AA in '09, with a 5.25 ERA in 13 starts. The next year they moved him to the bullpen, and there he's stayed.

  10. I used to think I followed baseball pretty closely, but I haven't heard of a lot of these pitchers. Is it the anonymity and "changing of the guard" nature of middle relievers?

  11. One of the ripple-effects of over-specialization is that with 12 or even 13-man pitching staffs now common, benches are getting awfully thin.

    For the AL with a 12-man staff, you've got 4 guys on the bench, one of whom is the backup catcher who will only be used to spell the starting catcher. So, only 3 guys on the bench for pinch-hitting, pinch-running, defensive replacement. etc. To me, that's not enough to give managers enough pieces to work with in a tight game. I, for one, would welcome a return to a 10-man staff being the more normal complement.

  12. It also made me think of my pet record- Mike Marshall's 106 games pitched in 1974. Could a situational lefty beat that record in an era of specialization? Maybe 110 games, 63 IP...

  13. I am surprised more situational LH RP are not on the list

  14. John Autin Says:

    @12, Andy R. -- So far, Pedro Feliciano (92 games last year) is the only situational LHP to pitch 90 games in a season. Given that most teams have one and use him whenever possible, I doubt that there are enough "LOOGY" situations in a season to get to 100+ games.

    P.S. Whenever I look at the season games-pitched leaders, I am reminded how underrated Kent Tekulve was. Teke and Marshall are the only pitchers with 3 seasons of 90+ games; Tekulve's last one came in 1987 at age 40, and he was still quite effective (138 ERA+ in 105 relief IP).

    Tekulve is tied for the all-time lead with 12 seasons of at least 60 games in relief, and he is right behind HOFer Hoyt Wilhelm with 7 relief seasons of 100+ innings.

  15. I'm trying to do the opposite search........i.e. how many consecutive relief appearances of at least 1 IP to start a career and overall, but I'm not having any luck.

    Initially I just set IP >=1 and checked the reliever box, but this returns results for players who also made spot starts between relief appearances.

    After trying some other methods, I went back to the original search and starting looking through gamelogs, and I think the answer to the "start a career" streak is Tom Ferrick of the 1941 Philadelphia Athletics, with 29. This included both an 8.1 IP relief appearance and a 10 IP, 1 ER appearance. Ferrick's "streak" was broken when he made a start in his 30th career game, giving up 16(!) hits in 8+ innings of work. His 2nd start went a little bit better, a 4-hit shutout.

    In terms of the modern era, Hector Ambriz of the 2010 Cleveland Indians started his career with 28 consecutive relief appearances >= 1 IP.

    As far as overall streaks go, the streak is much easier. Keith Foulke owns both the #1 and #2 overall streaks (80 and 78 games, respectively). Heath Bell owns the longest active streak with 62.

    What does this all mean? I have no idea, other than Play Index is fun!

  16. @6
    Fireworks, a HOF post. :-)

    Much food for thought in your words.

    "The mentality of using closers in the current fashion is going to be hard to break and will require a manager that embraces sabermetrics while being heedless to knee-jerk criticism from ignorant fans, media, and management."

    Agreed that managers in baseball (and NFL head coaches in football) adopt a herd mentality with respect to strategy. It seems, in baseball, that innovation takes a back seat to cover-your-backside, reflex, pitcher usage.

    I am intrigued by your notion of a Rally Kill stat for relief pitchers since it seems to cut across closers/setup men/long relievers.

  17. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Re Rally Kills,

    Fangraphs is tracking "Shutdowns" and "Meltdowns." They are not strictly based on numbers of baserunners and the score, but indirectly via WPA. See here: http://www.fangraphs.com/library/index.php/pitching/sd-md/

  18. Lawrence Azrin Says:

    @6/ Fireworks Says: "The mentality of using closers in the current fashion is going to be hard to break and will require a manager that embraces sabermetrics while being heedless to knee-jerk criticism from ignorant fans, media, and management..."

    Fireworks, great post! I recall the Red Sox not using one set closer, but rather a "bullpen by committee" shortly after Bill James joined as a consultant (2003?). Of course, they were mercilessly mocked and criticized by most of the local mainstream media, with the focus on James and his supposed "idiotic" strategies. After a couple months, they gave up and installed a conventional closer.

    It's really difficult to go against conventional wisdom in any major industry, unless you're really desperate. As you said, it'll probably be tried by a losing team in a small market, with not much to lose.

  19. On a silly note, these are the results of the last 7 games he's pitched in:

    L 5-4
    L 5-4
    W 4-1
    W 4-1
    W 4-1
    W 6-5
    W 6-5