PHILADELPHIA – Wins for a pitcher have become devalued over the years, with other numbers illuminated and revered in the analytics age.
Too many factors are out of their control to put much stock in the record. And it’s especially true with relievers who can get credited with a victory simply by having their team go ahead after they enter a game. The level of effectiveness can be inconsequential.
Mike Baumann isn’t paying much attention to his 7-0 record, but it’s worth closer scrutiny.
No other reliever in baseball has at least five wins without a loss. And Baumann is one victory away from tying Grant Jackson’s club relief record, set back in 1973.
Jackson was on another plane with his 1.90 ERA, 0.971 WHIP and nine saves in 45 appearances. He struck out only 47 batters in 80 1/3 innings. Didn't need them.
Baumann has registered a 3.49 ERA and 1.265 WHIP in 44 games, with 52 strikeouts in 49 innings.
Bullpens weren't managed in the same fashion. Jackson worked both ends of three doubleheaders, going two and 2 2/3 innings on May 13 at Yankee Stadium. He completed 5 2/3, 3 1/3 and 4 1/3 innings between June 17-28, after pitching in three consecutive games from June 5-7 and totaling 8 1/3 innings – earning his first win and second save.
Arms were made of rubber in those days.
The major league record for most relief wins without a loss is shared by the Dodgers’ Matt Herges and the Blue Jays’ Dennis Lamp with 11 in 2000 and 1985, respectively, according to STATS. Herges was 0-3 as a starter.
“Not something I look into too much,” Baumann said. “I just, whenever I go in in the middle of the game, my goal and focus is to just keep the score where it’s at. Luckily, the bats are on my side and they’ve been able to score some runs along the way. I’m just focused on my job, keeping the score where it’s at.”
Baumann replaced Tyler Wells in the fifth Sunday with the game tied 3-3, and he tossed 2 2/3 scoreless and hitless innings in a 5-3 win over the Rays. Ryan O’Hearn led off the sixth with a home run to again make Baumann the pitcher of record.
“He was the player of the game for me,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “What he did (Sunday) won us the game. To be able to cover those tough innings, those middle part innings. And that’s an area where we need to improve. That’s where we’ve had a little bit of a hangup in the season at times. And some of the games that we’ve lost, we’ve had a tough time covering those middle innings. That won us the game by him going two-plus scoreless, keeping the score right there and allowing our offense to get a couple runs off a really good Rays bullpen.
The 2 2/3 innings matched Baumann’s season high.
“I still felt strong toward the end there,” he said. “Just kind of running off the adrenaline of the close game. It was fun being able to go in for that last inning and be able to help the team out there.”
The Orioles determined late in spring training that Baumann should concentrate only on working in relief, and in shorter spurts rather than being a long man. He was out of the starter competition but on the 26-man roster.
“Back in spring training, if you told me I’d be in this position where I’m at now, I don’t know that I would have believed you necessarily,” he said. “It’s been a fun journey, being part of this bullpen. The guys have been great and I’m still able to just be able to learn from every guy. There’s something to pick from each one.”
“Mike’s had a really good year,” Hyde said. “He’s had some really good moments, some not so good moments, but for his first full year in the big leagues, to be put in the reliever role two weeks before spring training is over, to have the seasons he’s having right now, I’ve just been really impressed by him.”
Hyde was managing a short bullpen last night in Philadelphia, with Baumann, Félix Bautista and Yennier Cano unavailable.
Baumann didn’t think he’d be down for long after throwing 38 pitches Sunday.
“I should be good to go soon,” he said. “I’ve been able to bounce back. Recovery has come easy for me, so I’ve just got to take care of that.”
An eighth victory is on hold.