Ranking and scouting this year’s surprisingly decent position player pitching appearances
Three teams employed position players as pitchers over the weekend, doubling the total of non-pitcher pitching appearances in the majors this season. Here is a quick ranking and brief scouting report of those non-pitchers, who have combined for 5 1/3 innings pitched, giving up five hits, two runs (both earned), five walks, three strikeouts, one home run allowed and one memorable GIF.
1. Skip Schumaker, Dodgers, April 29 and June 28
Schumaker’s scoreless inning of relief on Friday night was his third career pitching appearance. He gave up a two-run home run to the Dodgers’ Aaron Miles as a member of the Cardinals in 2011 and also gave Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly a scoreless ninth inning in a 12-2 loss to the Rockies on April 29. On Friday, he was the fifth man out of the L.A. bullpen in a 16-1 loss and worked another scoreless ninth, though not an uneventful one.
Schumaker’s second pitch, a changeup in the dirt, bounced up and hit plate umpire Dale Scott in crotch, and after Schumaker got his first two hitters to fly out, he accidentally buzzed John Mayberry Jr. with a pitch (grabbing his head upon releasing the pitch and immediately telling Mayberry, “sorry, man”) before walking him. The Phillies then loaded the bases on a Ben Revere double and a Carlos Ruiz walk, but Schumaker rallied to strikeout out pinch-hitter Huberto Quintero on a 90 mphPitching in fastball right down the middle to strand all three runners. It wasn’t pretty, but Schumaker did feature three pitches and, with two scoreless innings under his belt, is the clear leader among position player pitchers this season.
Scouting report: Fastball tops out at 91 miles per hour, high-70s changeup, high-60s curveball with good drop.
2. Casper Wells, White Sox, June 28
Wells, who pitched in college at Towson University, was called on by Robin Ventura to pitch the ninth inning of the White Sox’ 19-10 loss to the Indians in the opening game of Friday’s doubleheader. Mike Aviles popped out to second base on Wells’ first pitch, a high fastball. Wells then walked Drew Stubbs, but rallied to strike out Asdrubal Cabrera on four pitches, sealing the deal with a nasty off-speed pitch (see GIF below). That brought up Jason Kipnis, who had reached base six times already in the game. Kipnis ripped a 3-2 fastball toward the leftfield corner, but Alejandro De Aza, who had just been moved to leftfield for that inning, made a great running catch on the warning track for the final out.
Scouting report: Low-90s fastball (sits 91, hit 93) with arm-side run, mid-80s changeup with fall-off-the-table drop
3. David Murphy, Rangers, June 4
Murphy was the fifth man out of the Rangers’ bullpen in a game in which starter Justin Grimm gave up eight runs and was bounced in the second inning. Manager Ron Washington asked Wells to pitch the bottom of the eighth with Texas trailing 17-5, Murphy gave up a double to his first hitter, Daniel Nava, but showed the ability to get ahead of hitters and force them to foul off pitches. Most impressively, he struck out his second man, Boston leftfielder Mike Carp, with a curveball that dropped into the zone (Carp was subsequently ejected for arguing the call). He then got Pedro Ciriaco to line out to left and David Ortiz to fly out to deep right to strand Nava.
Scouting report: High-70s batting practice fastball, high-60s curveball
4. Alberto Gonzalez, Yankees, May 15
Phil Hughes was knocked out after giving up seven runs in the first inning of this game against the Mariners, and rookie Brett Marshall saved the bullpen with 5 2/3 innings of relief, but when Marshall appeared to run out of gas after 108 pitches, Yankees manager Joe Girardi turned to Gonzalez to finish the job with two out and two on in the ninth and the Yankees trailing 12-2. He also sent Vernon Wells out to second base to facilitate shortstop Gonzalez’s move to the mound.
Gonzalez fell behind fellow infielder Robert Andino 3-and-1 before getting him to fly out to shallow right-center to strand both runners.
Scouting report: Gonzalez was throwing batting practice. All five of his pitches were high-70s/low-80s “fastballs.”
5. Anthony Recker, Mets, June 30
Remarkably, of the six position player pitching appearances this season, backup catcher Recker’s was the only one that wasn’t scoreless. He was the fifth man out of the Mets’ bullpen on Sunday, called on by Terry Collins to pitch the ninth inning with the Mets down 11-2 to the Nationals. Recker’s first six pitches were balls, and the seventh was a two-run home run by Ian Desmond, but the next three men he faced all flew out.
Scouting report: Mid-80s fastballs.
Meanwhile, 30-year-old Micah Owings is hitting .265/.305/.480 with eight home runs in 213 plate appearances as a leftfielder and designated hitter for the Nationals’ Triple-A affiliate, but the former Diamondbacks, Reds, and Padres righthander — he pitched in 138 games from 2007-12 — hasn’t thrown a single pitch.