Stats & Info: Andrew Cashner

Kernels: A week of firsts

June, 1, 2014
Jun 1
Our weekly roundup of the interesting and unusual finds that It was a week of firsts for rookies and veterans alike.

• On May 22 the list of most career plate appearances without a home run (among active non-pitchers) featured Ben Revere (1,547), Austin Romine (264), and Brock Holt (190).

Romine went deep the next day. On Tuesday, Revere's three-plus seasons of home-run futility finally ended when he launched a 357-footer into the front row in right field. That put Holt on the hook, and he didn't take long. On Saturday he hit a two-run shot that included the game-winning RBI for the Boston Red Sox. (He added four doubles on Sunday, a first for Boston since Victor Martinez did it exactly four years earlier.)

Your new top three in plate appearances without a homer: Kolten Wong (198), Leury Garcia (162), and Luis Jimenez (139).

• As for the most career plate appearances with only one homer, that belongs to San Francisco Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper with 3,754-- a distinction that earned him his own bobblehead night at AT&T Park earlier this season.

• Aaron Brooks made his first start for the Kansas City Royals. It didn't go quite as well as hoped. The first eight batters all reached, and Brooks left the game after only two outs and seven runs. It wasn't Brooks' debut (he made one prior relief appearance), but he is the second pitcher in the live-ball era to have either of his first two appearances be a seven-run start that lasted less than an inning. Ron Robinson of the Reds did it in 1984, but only one of his runs was earned.

• The Texas Rangers pinch-hit for starter Nick Tepesch in the third inning Saturday. Sent to the plate was Nick Martinez, who is himself a pitcher. Although he had pitched in 10 games, it was his first major-league plate appearance. He grounded out. But in so doing, he became just the fifth pitcher since 1973 (the DH era) to make his batting debut as a pinch hitter, the last being Chris Hatcher of the Marlins (2010). And Martinez was just the second pitcher in franchise history to pinch hit within the first three innings of a game. Claude Osteen batted for starter Don Rudolph exactly half a century earlier-- against the Cleveland Indians on May 31, 1964.

• Yovani Gallardo of the Milwaukee Brewers also made his first-ever pinch-hitting appearance on Tuesday. It was in the 10th inning. He hit a walk-off double to beat the Baltimore Orioles. It was the the first walk-off hit by any pitcher since Randy Keisler of the Reds earned his own victory with a 14th-inning single in 2005. And it was the first one by a pitcher as pinch hitter since another Brewer, Glendon Rusch, blooped a bunt attempt over the second baseman's head (!) on April 19, 2003.

• Newly-called-up Oscar Taveras of the St. Louis Cardinals homered in his second big-league at-bat Saturday. He's the first major-leaguer this season to homer in his debut, and the first Cardinal since Steven Hill in 2010. Still a couple weeks shy of his 22nd birthday, he's also the youngest Cardinal to do it since outfielder Eddie Morgan in 1936.

• Lance Lynn of the Cardinals, in his 75th career start, finally threw a complete game. He needed 126 pitches to shut out the New York Yankees, but that made him the first Cardinals pitcher to throw any complete game against the Bronx Bombers in regular-season interleague play. Their last complete game against the Yankees was by Bob Gibson in Game 7 of the 1964 World Series, and their last shutout came from Ernie White in 1942.

• Arizona Diamondbacks starter Josh Collmenter allowed three hits in his first career complete game and shutout on Thursday. All three runners were retired on double plays. Collmenter threw the rare "FM", a shutout in which the pitcher faces the minimum, but which isn't a perfect game because he allowed at least one baserunner. It was the first one in Diamondbacks history; their only other pitcher to face 27 batters in a complete game was Randy Johnson's perfecto in 2004.

Andrew Cashner's one-hitter for the San Diego Padres was the only "FM" last year, and there were none in 2012. Since the start of 2009, there have been six perfect games ... but only four pitchers have faced the minimum and not thrown a perfect game.

Kernels: Fun times on Friday

April, 13, 2014
Apr 13
Several times a season, a day comes along that has so much stuff packed into it, we don't need to look at the rest of the week. Consider that all of the following happened in seven hours on Friday:

Welington Castillo hit a three-run homer in the 11th to lead the Chicago Cubs to victory over the St. Louis Cardinals. It was the Cubs' second extra-inning homer this season (Anthony Rizzo, April 2), matching their recent average for an entire year (eight in the previous four seasons). Trevor Rosenthal, who allowed the one on Friday, also gave up a walk-off to Rizzo in 2012, and is the only active pitcher to allow two extra-inning homers to the Cubs.

Madison Bumgarner hit a sacrifice fly in the 3rd inning to put the San Francisco Giants on the board, then a grand slam in the 4th to take the lead for good over the Colorado Rockies. Giants pitchers have hit only two slams since the franchise moved to California (Shawn Estes, 2000), and it was the first home run by any Giants pitcher since Bumgarner hit one at Coors Field in 2012.

It was the first pitcher grand slam to turn a deficit into a lead since Chris Hammond of the Marlins hit one in a 1995 game against the Houston Astros.

Bumgarner's five RBIs were the most for any pitcher since Chris Carpenter had a three-run homer and a double for the Cardinals on October 1, 2009. Other than Estes (who also had five when he hit his slam), the last Giants pitcher to do it was Dave Koslo who homered twice against the Phillies on July 7, 1949.

Yu Darvish retired the first 15 Astros batters before Matt Dominguez singled to start the 6th. That would be the only hit Darvish allowed, but because his Texas Rangers also failed to score, he did not pick up a win. The longest 0-0 tie in the history of the Rangers' stadium was finally broken by Robinson Chirinos' walk-off single in the 12th.

Matt Harvey was the only starter last year to throw eight or more innings of one-hit ball without winning. Only one other pitcher in Rangers history had done it while also recording nine strikeouts: Pete Richert in 1965. Chirinos' hit was the team's first 1-0 walk-off since Rusty Greer singled home Mike Lamb on August 25, 2000.

The Toronto Blue Jays had just three singles, but turned two Baltimore Orioles errors into a pair of fourth-inning runs and won 2-0. It was the first time in franchise history that they'd won a road game on three or fewer total bases (they've done it six times at home). The Orioles were also the first team this year to lose a game allowing zero earned runs, something they've done just three other times in the past 20 seasons.

Grant Balfour relieved Tampa Bay Rays starter David Price. He issued three walks, threw a wild pitch, and still got a save, becoming the first pitcher to do that since... Grant Balfour, last season with Oakland. There have only been 38 saves since 1969 to include that line, and Friday's was the first for the franchise. Balfour is the only pitcher with two of the 38.

Andrew Cashner of the San Diego Padres threw the season's first complete game, a one-hit shutout of the Detroit Tigers which featured 11 strikeouts. It was the 20th complete-game one-hitter for the only remaining team to never throw a no-hitter, and their first with double-digit strikeouts since Kevin Brown in 1998.

Naturally the night couldn't end without the season's first "plunk-off"-- a game-ending hit-by-pitch with bases loaded. New York Mets reliever Jeurys Familia hit Hank Conger for a 5-4 Los Angeles Angels win. It happens, on average, slightly more than once a year (24 in the last 20 seasons, though none in 2013), but Friday's was just the fifth in the Angels' 54-season history. They hadn't seen one since the Pirates' Brad Havens hit Wally Joyner (scoring Claudell Washington) on July 23, 1989.

Top stats to know: Dodgers at Padres

March, 29, 2014
Mar 29
It’s the 25th season of Sunday Night Baseball on ESPN, as the Los Angeles Dodgers match up with their division rival, the San Diego Padres.

Let’s take a look at some of the statistical storylines the Sunday Night Baseball crew will be talking about.

Dodgers top payroll list
According to the Associated Press, the Dodgers Opening Day payroll will come in at just over $235 million, knocking the Yankees from the top spot. This will be the first time that the Yankees do not have the highest Opening Day payroll in the majors since 1998, when the Orioles were atop the list. The $235 million is also projected to be the highest single-season payroll in MLB history.

Not only will the Dodgers open up with 2014’s highest payroll, but it’s a continuation of a rapid increase in spending under the new ownership. The Dodgers Opening Day payroll was $105 million as recently as 2012, before $216 million last season.

Ryu gets right in second half
Hyun-Jin Ryu will take the mound for the Dodgers after Clayton Kershaw was scratched due to back pain.

Ryu’s most effective pitch last season was his changeup, and it was among the most effective for any starter in the league, tied for third in OPS allowed against the pitch.

Not only was it among the most effective overall, but it got better as the season went on.

One reason for the improvement was that the location of Ryu’s changeup against right-handed batters became much more precise after the All-Star break, locating it on the corner rather than consistently off the plate.

Padres ponying up
The Padres have made significant increases to their payroll the last four seasons. Their Opening Day payroll has climbed from about $38 million in 2010 to more than $90 million this season.

But the Padres have a long list of injury issues to deal with, including one of their most notable acquisitions of the offseason, Josh Johnson, who will miss time with a strained flexor muscle.

Closing with a flourish
Padres starter Andrew Cashner had a great finish to 2013, with a 1.70 ERA in his last nine starts. His strikeout-to-walk rate went from 2.3-to-1 in his first 17 starts to 4.5-to-1 in his last nine.

Cashner allowed four earned runs in 44 2/3 innings over his last six starts, including one run in 14 innings in two starts against the Dodgers.

Cashner's success might be linked to the increased use of his slider, a pitch he was throwing only about eight percent of the time in June. He was throwing it nearly once every four pitches in September.

Though Cashner is not often grouped with the hardest throwers in the majors, he can touch 97 MPH on the radar gun, which will come in handy when he faces Dodgers slugger Yasiel Puig.

Of the last 57 pitches Puig saw that were 95 MPH or faster in 2013, he managed only one hit. He had 11 hits on the first 94 he saw.