Minnesota Twins left-hander Scott Diamond fared pretty well on Wednesday afternoon, holding the Chicago White Sox to three runs on five hits over 6 1/3 innings. That was good enough to earn his sixth victory of the season, but more importantly for Minnesota helped them avoid a three-game series sweep at the hands of Chicago with a 4-3 win.
It was also good enough to move Diamond into some rare company. According to Hardball Talk's Matthew Pouliot, Diamond became only the sixth pitcher this season to win a game he started without recording a single strikeout. The other pitchers on that list include Jeremy Guthrie, Joe Kelly, Jeff Locke, Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook. However, unlike those pitchers, Diamond's outing was much closer to the norm than an outlier with a positive, though unlikely result.
Over his past seven major league starts dating back to July 1, Diamond has only struck out five batters total over 35 1/3 innings, and never more than one batter in any single outing. Not surprisingly, Diamond has struggled over that time posting a 1-4 record with a 6.37 ERA. But the string of starts again puts him in rare company, because the last time a starting pitcher sustained that type of streak for seven games or longer was 1989 when Dave Schmidt of the Baltimore Orioles did it nine games in a row.
Schmidt didn't fare much better, going 1-7 with a 7.51 ERA.
Over the past 30 years, only former Montreal Expos and San Francisco Giants left-hander Kirk Rueter, who's career spanned 1993-2005, has been able to put together a good stretch when the strikeout pitch eluded him. He once had a six-game streak of zero or one strikeout performances bridging the 2002-2003 seasons, and ended up a respectable 3-0 with a 3.18 ERA over that stretch.
Basically what we're learning based on these numbers and outcomes is the strikeout is a necessary weapon if a pitcher hopes to achieve short-term and long-term success at the big league level. That much should go unquestioned. However, on a given night, it can escape a pitcher and have little impact on his overall performance.
So then what is the outlook for Diamond?
Well, over two big league seasons, he's accumulated only 136 strikeouts in 291 2/3 innings. That's not exactly encouraging, and odds are he won't be the pitcher to buck the strikeout trend, but it does make him a fascinating pitcher to study going forward.