The Dodgers have been on perhaps what can be considered one of the greatest hot streaks in MLB history. A huge reason for the Dodger’s historic and prolific 35-8 run this season has been an improved bullpen. Once what was a complete mess earlier in the season has turned into a team strength. The Dodger bullpen since the all-star break leads the majors with a .179 opponent’s batting average against, and ranks second in the NL with a 1.97 ERA. A big reason for that is the big mustached marauder Chris Withrow.
Withrow the 24 year old right hander from Austin Texas has been a huge boost to the bullpen as a late inning power arm that can throw multiple innings in relief. Withrow was drafted by the Dodgers in the first round of the 2007 amateur draft. Initially Withrow was a starter, but was moved into a relief role. Chris didn’t see his first taste of big league action until this season.
Withrow made his major league debut for the Dodgers on June 12 against Arizona. On that night he pitched two thirds of an inning allowing one run on three this and whiffing one. Withrow became a go to guy in tough situations where more than one inning is needed.
On the July 10 game at Arizona, Withrow was called in to pitch with the scored tied in the tenth inning. Withrow provided three scoreless frames that night whiffing three and directly contributing to the team’s 7-5 win. Withrow had been sent back down to the minors, but was recalled back up because of another injury. On July 20 at Washington, Withrow picked up his first major league win by pitching a scoreless ninth inning to preserve a Dodger 3-1 win over the Nationals. Not only does Withrow have a powerful mid to upper 90’s fastball, wicked Curveball, but he also has a pretty intimidating mustache. You can see the resemblance to another great reliever with facial hair, Goose Gossage. No I’m not talking about Van Slyke’s mustache. That’s an outfielder’s mustache. I’m talking reliever staches here.
I Recently stopped by to talk with Withrow in the clubhouse to ask him a few questions. This was kind of an impromptu interview. Chris looked tired so I didn’t want to keep him too long. Here are a few of the questions and answers in which Withrow talks about how a simplified approach as a reliver has helped his game, And he talks about his childhood pitching hero Roger Clemens.
LL: How did it feel to pick up your first major league win?
Withrow: It felt really gooid. You know. I came into the situation in a tied game, and and I just had to keep it there and let our team come back and score some runs.
LL: describe how you got the first call that you were coming up to the Dodgers? Where were you? And How did you get the call?
Withrow: I was in Round Rock, (while with the Isotopes) and got the call around 12:30 at night. The call came from my manager late that night and it was a surreal feeling. It felt really good.
LL: You’ve been a starter and a reliever. Being both, which do you enjoy more? Which Comes easier for you?
Withrow: I really enjoy relieving. I think it’s been a good a good fit for me. Coming into a game Knowing that you may be in there for a minute, or for an inning. You just don’t know. So you have to come in and give your best stuff and go after each hitter. I think that’s really simplified things for me, and helped simplify my game.
LL: Who was your favorite player growing up?
Withrow: Roger Clemens. The guy that threw hard and being from Texas. I think it was awesome the way he challenged hitters and never backed down from anyone. I really looked up to him while growing up, and I loved watching him pitch when I was a kid.
Chris is one of the nicest Baseball players I have ever met, and quickly becoming one of my favorite Dodgers. Thank you Chris for your responses, especially after the game when I am sure you were tired and wanting to go home. Here’s hoping that Withrow becomes a fixture of the Dodger bullpen for many years to come.