When the entire bullpen, or almost the entire bullpen (Brandon League not withstanding) pitches nine scoreless frames during a 14 inning marathon victory over the division rival you are chasing in the standings, that is normally something that is worthy of praise.
The Dodgers bullpen tossed nine scoreless frames from the bottom of the fifth until the bottom of the 14 inning during their 14 inning game three win versus Arizona. It was quite impressive. But there was one man who turned in an extra special effort and is most deserving of praise. Chris Withrow is the man that deserves some extra praise for a clutch performance last night, helping the Dodgers to a 7-5 win over the Snakes.
Withrow was called into the game in the bottom of the tenth inning to pitch to a hungry Dbacks lineup that was looking for revenge against the Dodgers after losing the first two games of the series.
Chris is 6’4 and 215 pounds. Withrow a 24 year old right hander, had a rough road from his home town of Austin Texas to the major leagues. The 20 overall pick of the Dodgers in the first round of the 2007 amateur draft battled an assortment of injuries on his road to the major leagues. Withrow was drafted out of Midland High School where as a Senior he was 8-1 with a 1.32 ERA and 90 whiffs.
The 2008 season saw Withrow suffer a variety of Injuries which delayed his promotion to the big leagues. Withrow missed most of the 2008 season, due to a variety of injuries. He spent the majority of 2009 at Inland Empire, playing for the 66ers. He posted a 6-6 record that season with a 4.69 ERA in 19 appearances. Withrow was promoted to the Dodger’s double-A affiliate Chattanooga Lookouts in 2010. The Dodgers decided to make him a starting pitcher at the time. That season Withrow posted a 4-9 record and a 5.97 ERA. He whiffed 120 batters in 129 innings. But he struggled with his command walking 69, with a walk rate of 4.8 per nine, but a high whiff rate of 8.4
Withrow’s 2011 season with Chattanooga was a bit better but he continued to struggle with his command. The big right hander started 25 games that season, posting a 6-6 record, 4.20 ERA, and whiffing 130 in 128 frames for a 9.1 whiff per nine rate. However he did walk 75 that year.
After the 2011 season Withrow was placed on the 40 man roster in order to protect him from the rule 5 draft. Withrow has a ¾ arm slot, with a compact and smooth delivery. Withrow has always had solid mechanics.
Once the Dodgers made sure that other teams were unable to nab Withrow away from us, he began his transition from a starter to a reliever in 2012. Withrow made seven starts and pitched in 22 games in 2012. He was 3-3 with a 4.65 ERA in about 60 innings of work. That season he whiffed 64 and walked 35.
That brings us to this year with Chris. The Dodgers promoted Withrow to triple-A Albuquerque to begin the 2013 season. Withrow began to flourish while with the Isotopes this season, culminating with his call-up and promotion to the majors last month. Withrow pitched in 24 games for the Topes this season, and in 25.1 innings pitched, he posted a 4-0 record, and a 1.78 ERA. He whiffed 32 which gave him an 11.4 whiff per nine rate. Withrow was finally ready for the big show. On June 11, 2013, the Dodgers called him up to the show. Withrow pitched two thirds of an inning, allowing three hits, walking one and whiffing one. Oddly enough, it came against the Arizona Dbacks.
Withrow made one of the best appearances of the season last night against Arizona. The right hander entered the game in the bottom of the tenth with the Dodgers and Dbacks tied at 5-5. The Dodgers needing a win to finish a three game sweep, had come from a one-run deficit during the inning prior to tie the game and send it into extra innings.
By the time the tenth frame rolled around, the Dodgers had used most of their players and relievers. Fortunately for the Dodgers Withrow was still available. Chris came in with the job of holding the 5-5 tie, and he was excellent. Withrow, with a plus fastball and strong slider, held the Dbacks scoreless through the thirteenth inning.
In the bottom of the tenth, Withrow induced a double play from Aaron Hill, and then whiffed Paul Goldschmidt to end that frame. After Withrow retired the side again in the eleventh frame, the big guy tossed a third scoreless inning in the bottom of the twelfth. In that inning he whiffed Josh Collmenter, and then whiffed Hill again for the second time. Kenley Jansen replaced Withrow in the bottom of the thirteenth. Eventually the Dodgers would win the game in the fourteenth frame on back-to-back home runs from Hanley Ramirez, and A.J. Ellis. If not for Withrow’s three scoreless frames, the Dodgers would not have won.
Even though Withrow was moved from a starter to a reliever, he still has a high ceiling as a middle relief/set-up power arm out of the back of the bullpen.
Withrow’s incredible performance should not go unnoticed. The big guy has had a long and arduous journey to the big leagues from his Austin Texas upbringing. Chris thank you, you’re performance was so clutch, we are putting you and your wonderful lively mid 90’s heater on blast. A performance that clutch in a game as important as that one was deserves special recognition. It shouldn’t be long before Chris Withrow becomes a permanent valuable member of the Dodger bullpen. Chris, we at Lasorda’s Lair salute you!