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Scoreless appearances by a reliver to start a career

Posted by Andy on August 20, 2007

At the trade deadline, the Yankees did not pick up a reliever, as many expected. Instead, they shortly thereafter called up Joba Chamberlain, who has been lights out since joining the team. Through yesterday, in his first five major league appearances, he's pitched 7 innings, with 2 hits, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts, and no runs. He's also been hitting triple digits on the radar gun. It should make things interesting when it comes time to negotiate a new contract for Mariano Rivera this off-season.
Anyway it got me to thinking: is such a start for a reliever all that impressive? The answer, at least from a statistical point of view, is no.

Using the PI Streak Finder, here are the leaders since the year 2000 for most consecutive relief appearances to start a career without allowing a run (earned or unearned):

                  StreakStart  Streak End Games   W   L   GS  CG SHO  GF  SV   IP     H    R   ER   BB   SO   HR   ERA  HBP  WP  BK Teams

+-----------------+-----------+-----------+-----+------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
 Matt Smith         2006-04-14  2006-09-22    22    0   0   0   0   0   8   0   18.2    7    0    0   10   17   0   0.00   0   0   0 NYY-PHI                              

 Doug Slaten        2006-09-04  2007-04-21    18    0   0   0   0   0   1   0   11.2    7    0    0    3    9   0   0.00   0   0   0 ARI                                  

 Joe Smith          2007-04-01  2007-05-05    17    1   0   0   0   0   7   0   15.1    8    0    0    7   18   0   0.00   1   1   0 NYM                                  

 Ricardo Rincon     2000-04-03  2000-05-10    14    2   0   0   0   0   0   0    8      6    0    0    2    9   0   0.00   1   0   0 CLE                                  

 Mark Lowe          2006-07-07  2006-08-14    13    1   0   0   0   0   3   0   17.2    8    0    0    7   20   0   0.00   1   1   0 SEA                                  
 Aaron Heilman      2003-08-31  2005-06-19    13    1   0   0   0   0   6   0   18     13    0    0    3   19   0   0.00   0   0   0 NYM                                  
 Bret Prinz         2001-04-22  2001-05-27    13    1   0   0   0   0  10   4   12.1    5    0    0    4    8   0   0.00   0   0   0 ARI                                  

 Jonathan Sanchez   2006-05-28  2006-06-30    12    2   0   0   0   0   2   0   11.1    3    0    0    7    7   0   0.00   1   0   0 SFG                                  
 Alex Herrera       2002-09-13  2003-07-12    12    0   0   0   0   0   4   0   11      5    0    0    5    9   0   0.00   0   1   0 CLE                                  
 Jeremy Fikac       2001-08-16  2001-09-08    12    2   0   0   0   0   2   0   15.1    4    0    0    2   13   0   0.00   1   0   0 SDP                                  
 Octavio Dotel      2000-04-23  2000-08-04    12    1   0   0   0   0  11   5   13      4    0    0    5   20   0   0.00   0   0   0 HOU                                  

 Kevin Cameron      2007-04-05  2007-05-11    11    0   0   0   0   0   4   0   16.1    6    0    0   15   15   0   0.00   0   2   0 SDP                                  
 Tyler Johnson      2005-09-06  2006-05-20    11    0   0   0   0   0   3   0    5.1    3    0    0    4    7   0   0.00   0   0   0 STL                                  
 Ramon Ramirez      2006-04-14  2006-05-13    11    2   0   0   0   0   2   0   15.1    6    0    0    2   20   0   0.00   0   0   0 COL                                  
 Mike Gallo         2003-07-02  2003-07-27    11    1   0   0   0   0   1   0    8.2    4    0    0    5    4   0   0.00   0   0   0 HOU                                  

 Kirk Saarloos      2003-05-21  2003-06-12    10    2   0   0   0   0   2   0   10.2    6    0    0    3   11   0   0.00   0   0   0 HOU                                  
 Rolando Arrojo     2001-04-06  2001-05-05    10    1   0   0   0   0   8   4   16.1    9    0    0    5   14   0   0.00   0   1   0 BOS                                  
 Todd Van Poppel    2000-05-12  2000-06-03    10    0   0   0   0   0   3   1   13.1    9    0    0    7   14   0   0.00   0   0   0 CHC                                  
 Matt Herges        2000-04-05  2000-04-29    10    1   0   0   0   0   2   0   15      5    0    0    3   11   0   0.00   2   0   0 LAD                                  

I am totally amazed that Matt Smith's streak last year escaped me. I remember when he was traded from the Yankees to the Phillies (as part of the deal for Bobby Abreu and the late Cory Lidle), but I had no idea about the streak. Smith pitched terribly with the Phillies earlier this year (4 hits and 11 walks in 4 innings!) although he's doing well at Ottawa this year and should make it back to the bigs.

Anyway, with just 5 scoreless appearances, Chamberlain has a long way to go before making this particular leaderboard. But based on his numbers so far, mainly his minor league numbers, he's probably going to have a heck of a good career.

This entry was posted on Monday, August 20th, 2007 at 7:05 am 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.

4 Responses to “Scoreless appearances by a reliver to start a career”

  1. I was looking up something similar just yesterday, and found that Victor Cruz started his career with 21.1 scoreless innings (over 13 games) to start his career. That's the best start (innings-wise) that I've found so far.
    http://www.baseball-reference.com/pi/gl.cgi?t=p&n1=cruzvi01&year=1978#1:13:sum

  2. Good point, statboy. I actually did that search too and I can confirm that you are correct that Cruz is the leader since 1957.

  3. Thanks for the confirmation, Andy. I'm not subscribed to the Play Index (yet), so it was next-to-impossible for me to confirm that Cruz was the leader.

  4. Kevin Cameron pitched over 16 scoreless innings to start his career this year for the Padres.