What Happened In 2014: So long, elbow.
Remember how surprisingly useful Chris Withrow was in 2013? Perhaps we should have been worried that his 2014 kicked off with a February Brim post in which he worried about how much projection systems didn’t seem to like Withrow, but Brim was confident. Brim was right, because Brim is usually right, and for the first few weeks Withrow was outstanding. In his first eight appearances, he allowed only one unearned run, striking out 13 against three walks.
But on April 18, he walked three Diamondbacks, and on April 26, he walked three Rockies, and hey, does anything look funky with that vertical release point to you?
After a relatively stable release point his first 10 or so times out, things started going all over the place, and his control went with it. Withrow managed to survive despite that, but in retrospect, it might have been a sign of what was to come. On May 17 in Arizona, he got absolutely rocked for five runs, and as we wondered who was going to lose their roster spot in order to make room for Hyun-jin Ryu‘s return from the disabled list, I figured I would prepare us all for the inevitability that it would be Withrow, because he was the only one with options:
It’s weird to say, because for a decent chunk of the season Withrow was the club’s most reliable reliever, and he misses bats like few others, but the control problems that plagued him in the minors have returned. Withrow has walked at least one in eight of his last 10 appearances, and his 20.7 percent walk rate is the highest in baseball (minimum 20 innings) — and it’s really not close at all. Albuquerque isn’t necessarily the best place to fix something like that, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to get him a breather for a bit. And remember, this is a team that has been making roster moves nearly every day, especially with the pitching staff, so it’s not like shipping Withrow down would be a long-term thing. (…He says, remembering Paco Rodriguez fondly.)
And he was! This was in New York, and I watched him walk into Don Mattingly‘s office and walk out looking unhappy. Withrow never did pitch for Albuquerque, unfortunately. A little more than a week later, we found out that he would require Tommy John surgery, ending his season. Withrow isn’t likely to be ready to start 2015 on time either, though he should be available at some point. It’s too bad — for brief moments, he’s looked absolutely dominating. Let’s hope he can be that again.
2015 status: Under team control and likely to spend weeks or months on the 60-day disabled list while recovering from his injury.