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Yesterday, I came upon this startling discovery: longtime reliever Kyle Farnsworththrew a shutout
Farnsworth’s shutout happened during his disappointing* rookie year, when he started in 21 of his 27 games. After 5 more starts to begin the next year, he never started again. He’s now on a streak of 770 straight relief appearances, which explains why I didn’t remember his time as a starter.
* He allowed nearly 2 homers per 9 innings and had a K/BB ratio of 1.35. That works out to a FIP of 6.13. He had just 70 strikeouts in 130 innings, which seems odd given that he’s now known for his crazy strikeout rates… but then those didn’t start until he was moved to the bullpen.
The “failed starter turned good reliever” career path is of course a familiar one. What makes it interesting in cases like Farnsworth’s is the reminder that even failed starters can have brief moments of glory.
The list below shows all the pitchers to throw a shutout despite having 30 or fewer career starts, at least 100 games in relief, and at least 90% of all games in relief. In other words, these are guys who were known as relievers but who had at least one dominant game as a starter, usually early in their careers.
In the table, “SHO” is Shutouts, “GS” is starts, “GR” is relief games, “% Relief” is the percentage of games that player appeared in relief, “SHO Yr” is the year of the player’s shutout(s), and “GS After” is the number of starts the player made in his career after his (last) shutout. If the number in the SHO column is bolded, that player threw a shutout in his first career start.
|Rk||Player||SHO||GS||GR||From||To||% Relief||SHO Yr||GS After|
|1||Terry Leach||3||21||355||1981||1993||94.4%||’82, ’85, ’87||10|
|2||Randy Niemann||2||10||112||1979||1987||91.8%||’79 (x2)||5|
|Chuck Taylor||2||21||284||1969||1976||93.1%||’69, ’70||1|
|Dan Osinski||2||21||303||1962||1970||93.5%||’63, ’64||1|
|Jumbo Brown||2||23||226||1925||1941||90.8%||’32, ’35||5|
In his rookie year, Randy Niemanntwo shutouts 1-run complete game 30 MLB pitchers since 1919 1st shutout 2nd shutout first shutout rain-shortened 6-inning affair
You may remember Jumbo Brownfattest players through MLB history first shutout ending after 8 innings 3rd-most wins without a loss
Two of the players on this list got only 1 career start, and tossed a shutout in it. The most interesting is probably Frank Williamsthat game Luis Aloma 9-inning one
Williams and Aloma are two of only 4 players in MLB history to toss a shutout in their only career start. The other two are Larry Anderson1 start Don Fisher 13-inning shutout Cy Young
Speaking of relievers who hung around for a while, one of the most famous journeymen of all time makes the list: Mike Marshall
I loved seeing Ernie Johnson
A common pattern is exemplified by Tom Ferrick
Many other pitchers in this list struggled in their outing immediately following the shutout (or the next few) and never got a regular starting chance afterward. But hey, at least they had that one great performance to remember. Many MLB pitchers would love to be able to have thrown a shutout, not to mention the thousands upon thousands of minor leaguers who don’t even get the chance.
Tagged with: Aaron Heilman Aaron Small Bill Campbell Bill Kelso Bob Lacey Bob Wells Bob Wickman Chuck Taylor Dan Osinski Danny Graves Darold Knowles Don Fisher Emil Kush Ernie Johnson Frank Williams Joe Sambito Jumbo Brown Kyle Farnsworth Larry Anderson Larry Sherry Lee Guetterman Luis Aloma Max Leon Mike Hartley Mike Marshall Randy Niemann relievers Rick Lysander Roger Mason Sammy Stewart Sean Burnett shutouts Steve Farr Steve Hamilton Steve Kealey Terry Leach Tom Ferrick Travis Harper
This blog is devoted to the invention and use of unusual baseball statistics. These Junk Stats are designed to reveal the not-so-meaningful quirks that make baseball so fascinating.
JunkStats is written by Jacob Peterson, who also writes for the Braves blog Talking ChopBeyond the Boxscore
For more about the site or the author, read the About page
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