Chris Withrow went from a minor-league starter to a major-league reliever, a jittery ball of nerves to a statistic, booed briefly when he gave up the game-tying run in the seventh inning Wednesday then golf-clapped off the Dodger Stadium mound following his major-league debut.
A whirlwind, to be sure.
“It was still a lot of fun,” the 24-year-old pitcher said after the game. “Definitely to get out there and get my feet wet was an awesome experience. I wish my results were a little better. When you come into a game, it’s 4-3, you want to hold the lead. I wasn’t able to do that so i didn’t get my job done.”
Withrow’s statistics aren’t particularly flattering. He was stuck with a 13.50 earned-run average after being charged with one run in two-thirds of an inning. He is so far the only member of the Dodgers’ 2007 draft class to reach the majors, and looking down the list he might bear that distinction for a while. (Not his fault, but for a moment you had to wonder if any of them would make it.) And while he didn’t take the loss, Withrow was charged with a blown save and was arguably just as responsible for the loss as Brandon League or Ronald Belisario, the losing pitcher last night.
That said, looking on the bright side of Withrow’s debut wasn’t particularly hard. He touched 100 mph on the stadium radar gun with his fastball (if you round up the numbers from Brooks Baseball), 20 mph faster than his curve. He stayed around the strike zone, working the corners, and the three hits he allowed were seeing-eye singles.
“That’s just bad luck,” Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. “He had the first two guys overpowered. This kid’s got a special arm. With all our DL guys, he’s kind of a weird guy that’s here. He could give us a power arm that could really help us.”
Given that last statement, and given the struggles of League and Belisario this year, you wonder how much Withrow’s debut served as an audition for a larger role — and if so, if he passed.
“I could have executed a couple pitches a little better and maybe my results would have been better,” he said. “I had so many butterflies last night, so much adrenaline last night, that tonight when the phone rang and it was my name, I had to put it all behind me and do my job. Once I got out there it was trying to execute pitches.”