Phil Bickford continued his amazing run out of the bullpen yesterday with 1.2 scoreless innings with two strikeouts to run his scoreless streak up to 7.2 innings, during which he’s struck out 10 and given up just four hits and three walks. But it’s what happened between his two strikeouts that’s worth talking about, as in the 8th inning he went 1-2-3 on just three pitches.
It was certainly notable at the time, as Dave Roberts would remark on it after.
Indeed, he is right, though I didn’t realize how rare it was.
According to the Baseball Almanac, it is the 192nd official three-pitch inning in baseball history, though the actual number is likely significantly higher due to the lack of records on pitch counts beyond a handful of decades back. However, even accounting for that, it’s only the 24th three-pitch inning in the last decade (since 2011). For comparison, there have been 37 immaculate innings over that same span and 43 no-hitters.
Granted, the feat involves a lot of luck since the outcome is not in the pitcher’s control, but it’s still a rare thing to witness.
While we’re on the topic of Bickford, not many Dodgers fans expected much when the former first-round pick was called up (hell, he was something of a meme to start), but he’s been exceptional thus far. With the Dodgers, he has a 1.85 ERA, a 1.65 FIP, and a 3.30 DRA, with the latter number ranking second among relievers behind Jimmy Nelson and fourth on the team ahead of Trevor Bauer.
It’s difficult to know whether he can keep this up going forward, but the results have been legit thus far, so here’s hoping he — as well as another potential diamond in the rough in Garrett Cleavinger — can at least provide that front-end stability that the bullpen has been sorely lacking this year.