Earlier today, I published a post over on the main site digging into Cincinnati’s historically bad bullpen. Within that post, I noted that the Reds’ staff of relievers entered the day with the worst team ERA since 1961, the worst team FIP since 1961, and the worst team home run rate since 1961. The consolation prize, as it were, is that their team walk rate of 11.6% was “only” 1,390th of 1,476.
Well, as I write this post, the Reds’ bullpen’s walk rate is 12.5%, up nearly a full percentage point from this morning, dropping them 70 spots on the all-time leaderboard from 1,390th to 1,460th. It’s the bottom of the seventh in their game in Cleveland, and Reds relievers have retired six batters and walked seven. Also, they’ve made history in the process. More history. More of the kind of history teams and players don’t want to make.
That history looks like this:
In the bottom of the fifth inning, starting pitcher Alfredo Simon was removed from the game and relieved by right-hander Steve Delabar. Delabar walked Jason Kipnis to load the bases and struck out Francisco Lindor. Then, with the bases still loaded, Delabar walked four consecutive batters, effectively hitting a grand slam for Cleveland while re-loading the bases with a fresh set of legs.
I asked FanGraphs researcher Jonah Pemstein to run some numbers on this phenomena, and this is what he found.
This marks just the sixth time in recorded history (dating back to 1974) that a team drew four consecutive walks with the bases already loaded, and the first time in 12 years. The other teams to achieve the feat are as follows:
Not only that, but Delabar himself made history. In each of the five previous instances of a team walking four consecutive batters with the bases already loaded, at least one pitching change was made during the streak. The Reds did not make such a change:
Steve Delabar is the only pitcher since at least 1974 to walk 4 straight batters w/ bases already loaded, per FG research (h/t @japemstein)
— August Fagerstrom (@AugustFG_) May 18, 2016
At least they’re making history.
August used to cover the Indians for MLB and ohio.com, but now he's here and thinks writing these in the third person is weird. So you can reach me on Twitter @AugustFG_ or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.