Tyler Chatwood had a very unique 2018 season, which I have previously written about on this site. Later in the season, Chatwood’s luck worsened and he was pushed into the bullpen, but not before he had established a distinctive pitching line profile: short innings totals, high pitch counts, a lot of walks, but few runs.
The outing that spurred this post was Yu Darvish’s start on May 9th of this year, in which he pitched four innings, gave up one hit and one run, walked six batters, and struck out seven, adding up to 97 pitches. It seemed familiar, so I ran a Play Index query to confirm my suspicions: this was something that Tyler Chatwood did quite a bit in 2018. I’ll walk you through the results of this query shortly, but first I should define the parameters of this type of outing: an outing in which the pitcher throws 85+ pitches in five or fewer innings, while giving up three or fewer earned runs and walking five or more batters. We’ll call this a “Chatwood,” and you’ll see why shortly.
Tyler Chatwood leads the league in such games since he debuted in 2011, and it’s not particularly close despite Chatwood only starting the 107th-most games in that period:
Sandy Alcantara could be a name to watch since he’s amassed four Chatwoods in only 23 starts at the major league level.
Barry Zito is the leader in Chatwoods since 1987, but Chatwood is only two behind, and seems to have the best chance to overtake Zito out of his nearest competitors, who are mostly retired or nearing the end of their careers:
Chatwood didn’t always have such a knack for this type of outing, however. Before 2018, he had only thrown three such games in his career. He then proceeded to double the amount of Chatwoods any pitcher had thrown in a single season since 2011:
Not only that, he’s the only pitcher with more than four such games in a season since 1987:
Yu Darvish’s command has improved significantly since his “Chatwood” start, and Chatwood himself hasn’t thrown a game which satisfies these criteria in his three starts this season. Despite taxing the bullpen, pitchers who throw these games aren’t even necessarily hurting their teams chances to win since they’re only giving up a few runs. As Chatwood’s second half of 2018 showed, throwing a lot of these games is not an inspiring sign, but it’s a feat nonetheless .