Yesterday, I posted a new poll asking whether or not Terry Francona would put a position player on the mound before the season ends. Early results from the poll (scroll down and vote if you haven’t yet) have been inconclusive, but for this post, let’s assume Francona’s extra large bullpen isn’t enough in one game and the Tribe skipper needs to call on a position player to pitch. Who would he call on? There are four players currently on the team who have pitching experience. I am going to profile each player and the outcome of their appearance before deciding on a winner.
Nick Swisher: 4/13/09
With the Yankees behind 15-5 to the Rays in the 8th inning, Swisher was called upon in a mop up role, but he did a nice job. He stranded both of his inherited runners and ended the inning, striking out a batter in the process. Swish hovered around 80 MPH, throwing 12 of 22 pitches for strikes.
David Murphy: 6/4/2013
“Good Guy” Murphy also pitched a scoreless inning as the then-Rangers outfielder was called to the mound in a 17-5 blowout against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. Murph threw 20 pitches, 12 of them strikes. The most memorable pitch of his outing was a 67 MPH sweeping, eephus-like curveball that ended up as a called third strike. His lack of speed probably shocked the Sox hitters, including David Ortiz, who flew out to end the inning.
Ryan Raburn: 8/8/2013
Raburn’s improbable 2013 campaign included a 1-2-3 inning against the Detroit Tigers, a feat that the full-time Tribe pitchers struggled pull off. Raburn even struck out Matt Tuiasosopo on an 89 MPH fastball. On the mound against his former team, Raburn threw 8 of 13 pitches for strikes, but he was only called upon because the Tigers were en route to a 10-3 victory.
Chris Gimenez: 7/10/14
Of the four current Indians position players to toe the rubber, Gimenez did it most recently, accomplishing the feat earlier this season for the Rangers. The newest Indian was the inspiration for the poll question because his appearance was just last month. With the Rangers trailing the Angels 15-4 in the 9th, manager Ron Washington decided to reward the few fans left in Arlington with this Gimenez’s oddity. He did not disappoint with a 1-2-3 inning that included a whiff courtesy of C.J. Cron.
Who Should Pitch?
The easy choice right now would be Gimenez because, well, he’s the only one of the foursome not currently inhabiting the disabled list. That said, I am ignoring injuries for the purpose of this farcical discussion. None of the four players allowed a run in their outings, each one recording an improbably strikeout as one of their three outs. That said, it is easy to cut the field in half based on stuff, as Murphy and Swisher struggled to hit 80 while Gimenez and Raburn had fastballs that resembled Josh Tomlin. Picking between the remaining two is more difficult. In the end, I am choosing Ryan Raburn as the “best” option because he covered first base and caught a flip from (ironically) Nick Swisher, instinctively covering the bag on the 3-1 ground out. Let’s just hope Tito doesn’t have to worry about pitching a position player down the stretch, especially with September call ups right around the corner.