If you were to look at a major league baseball team’s stats and noticed a pitcher was 0-0 with no saves, you’d think that pitcher had not gotten in to too many games, right?
But what if on further analysis, you noticed that pitcher had appeared in 30 or more games and had a very respectable ERA. You’d think differently, right?
The evolution of MLB pitching over the past 50 years has certainly changed the roles that starters and bullpens have within a pitching staff. Years ago, there were starters, spot starters, and maybe a closer. Today, there are starters, middle relievers, set-up men, and closers.
Also in today’s game, you can have a pitcher or two who pitch quite often but yet never figure in the decision of the game or receive a save. These are typically the middle relievers who pitch an inning and whose sole responsibility is to not lose a lead and hold it for the seventh, eighth and ninth-inning pitchers to finish the job.
That’s where many of these pitchers who have no wins, no losses and no saves are coming from. Many of them are not household names, but they are very important to a pitching staff.
This season there are currently four pitchers who have appeared in 25 or more games yet do not have a win, a loss or a save to their credit. The four: Antonio Bastardo (N.Y. Mets, 46 games), Matt Belisle (Washington, 27 games), Nick Goody (N.Y. Yankees, 26 games) and Jhan Marinez (Tampa Bay and Milwaukee, 26 games).
Last season, Texas reliever Sam Freeman set an MLB record with 54 appearances with a 0-0 record and no saves. Milwaukee bullpen pitcher Corey Knebel last season appeared in 48 games for the Brewers without a win, a loss or save, tying Scott Aldred for second on this list. Aldred pitched in 48 games for Tampa Bay in 1998 without a win, a loss or save. For the record, Freeman, who is now in the Brewers organization, has pitched in 142 career games in the bigs with a record of 3-2 and no saves. Knebel, who is in the Brewers major league bullpen, has a 0-1 career record with no saves in 70 games pitched.
If we expand our look to pitching careers, there have been a handful of pitchers who spent their entire MLB career without collecting a win, a loss or save. Two pitchers pitched 48 games in the majors without recording a win, loss or save. Matt Stites and Mike Kinnunen (I told you they weren’t household names!) each have 48 career games pitched without figuring in a decision or getting a save. They top this unique list.
Here’s a look at the five pitchers who have 35 or more career games without a win, a loss or save to their credit.
Matt Stites, 2014-15, Arizona, 48 games
Mike Kinnunen, 1980-87, Minnesota, Baltimore, 48 games
Greg Jones, 2003-07, Angels, 38 games
Allen McDill, 1997-2001, Kansas City, Detroit, Boston, 38 games
Ryan O’Rourke, 2015-16, Minnesota, 36 games