This time last year, Daniel Schlereth was waiting to be drafted by a team. The University of Arizona reliever found himself chosen by the hometown Arizona Diamondbacks in the first round. A few days ago, Schlereth got the promotion from Double-A, only he didn’t report to Triple-A, instead he jumped into the majors. Two low leverage situations later, Schlereth was tossed into the fire last night.
Entering the 8th inning, the D-Backs held a 5-1 lead over the hosting Dodgers. Tony Pena took the mound, taking over for Dan Haren after seven solid innings. Matt Kemp greeted Pena with a single, but Pena would sit down a pair of former Astros as Brad Ausmus popped out and Mark Loretta struck out. Juan Pierre would single, placing runners on the corners for Rafael Furcal, who drew a walk. Orlando Hudson would walk as well. Making it a 5-2 D-Backs lead with two outs and the bases loaded. Rather than allow Pena to face James Loney, A.J. Hinch went to the youngster to defuse the threat.
Schlereth would allow a double to Loney, allowing the bases to clear and tie the game. Casey Blake would then single, giving the Dodgers their first lead of the night. The D-Backs would face Jonathan Broxton in the ninth inning and go down 1-2-3 with a pair of strikeouts and a groundout. It’s a bit hard to peg this one on Schlereth though. A glance at his strikezone plot from Brooks Baseball in the Blake at-bat shows that he was squeezed on two strike calls:
The top and bottom of strikezones change with different hitters. Blake’s top is at the 3.58 mark and extends to 1.7. The constant is the width of the zone – or at least should be. It’s hard to argue that pitches three and four aren’t strikes, yet that’s how the umpire called it. Nobody can say for sure how a strike call on pitch three sets up pitch four or five, or if there is a pitch five, but we know how the situation played out in reality, and I’m guessing the D-Backs and Schlereth would love to try their luck with a 1-2 count instead of a 2-1 count; especially given the .300 point swing in OPS between the counts.
Schlereth gets tagged with his first major league loss, and his first major league squeezing.