Sullivan: The era of position players pitching

From Jeff Sullivan at FanGraphs on June 14, 2017:

Yesterday, toward the end of an absolute thrashing at the hands of the Twins, the Mariners sent Carlos Ruiz to the mound. That’s notable for the fact that Ruiz is a catcher, and not a pitcher, and yet Ruiz pitched, and he even registered a strikeout! He also walked two guys and coughed up a homer. Not supposed to pitch. Did pitch. It happens.

It’s actually been happening kind of a lot. The day before, the tables were turned, and as the Mariners were maiming the Twins, the Twins sent out Chris Gimenez to pitch. A few days before, the Padres used Erick Aybar. The day before that, the Phillies used Andres Blanco. The day before that, the Twins used…Chris Gimenez. A week before that, the Twins used Chris Gimenez. And on, and on. It used to feel special when a non-pitcher would pitch. It’s still more fun in a blowout than the alternative, but some of the shine has come off the apple.

It’s not too hard to figure out why. These appearances were special because they were rare. They’re still not common, but they’ve become more common than they’ve been. Baseball right now finds itself within a number of eras, but among them, this is the era of position players pitching.

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Originally published: June 14, 2017. Last Updated: June 14, 2017.