Thursday, September 25, 2014

2014: COMPLETE GAMES #105, #106, #107, #108... (AND #109, #110)

The Great Complete Game Chase is over. Yesterday (when all our troubles weren't nearly so far away as we might have hoped...) was the backbreaker, as the tie that had been achieved back on September 17th was finally broken.

It was the Mariners' Taijuan Walker, in a hard-luck, 1-0, eight-inning loss to the Blue Jays, who came to rest with #109, which put 2014 beyond the record low for CGs established back in 2007. (The M's, poised to give Oakland and Kansas City a real run for a Wild Card slot, have dropped four straight to steer themselves right over the edge of the horizon.)

And #110 followed from a pitcher (Kyle Lohse) whose team (the Brewers) had preceded the M's in playing themselves out of the post-season. Kyle was 7-1 in early June when he recorded his first CG of the year; his ERA in his next sixteen starts (prior to his second CG yesterday) was 4.97.

Previously, we'd seen the return of Andrew Cashner, who had 2014's very first CG--an electrifying one-hitter with eleven K's--but who was sidelined twice during the year. We're not sure if Andrew will ever be able to remain healthy for a full season, but if he out. His second CG (#105 on the year, on 9/15; a two-hit, 1-0 shutout win against the Phillies) was nearly as impressive as his April gem.

Next was the Cubs' Jake Arrieta (#106, 9/16), continuing his astonishing transformation in '14 after protracted mediocrity in his stints with Baltimore, completing a one-hit, 13-K shutout against the Reds.

9/17 brought us two more CGs: Adam Wainwright (#107), who scattered seven hits as the Cardinals pushed the Brewers out of the playoff hunt with a 2-0 win; and #108--from the Indians' on-the-rise Carlos Carrasco, who brought the hammer down on the Astros (a two-hit, 12-K shutout).

While we're thinking about shutouts: the total for the year (62) is nowhere close to the record for least in a season (43--set, as with the CG low, in 2007). Remember, this refers to shutouts by starters pitching a complete game; overall team shutouts--where the starter and any number of relievers who follow collectively blank the opposition--went up in 2014 to 344, which is the second highest total in baseball history, behind only the 1972 season (357--of which 295 were CG shutouts).

We're thinking we should stay with this in 2015, as odds are high that the situation will be much the same. Can managers take the CG below the "100 a year" horizon? There's no reason to rule it out...