A Brief History of Milwaukee Brewers Pitching Position Players | Disciples of Uecker

Disciples of Uecker

We'd like to go to the Playoffs, that would be cool.

Martin Maldonado has had a memorable start to the season. So much so that David Schoenfield slyly suggested that Maldonado should be April’s the player of the month. Amongst his many accomplishments, Maldonado literally hit the cover off the ball, punched a Pirate, and pitched a scoreless inning against the Cardinals. While all those feats are worthy of recognition, it was Maldonado’s appearance on the mound that deserves extra attention.

When Maldonado toed the rubber for the eighth inning of Wednesday’s game against the Cardinals, Andrew Gruman tweeted the following –

I remembered Inglett’s inning back in 2010 but couldn’t recall any other position players that had pitched for the Crew. So I spent the week digging through Baseball-Reference. I discovered that Maldonado was only the ninth position player to take the mound in franchise history. If that company isn’t elite enough, one of the pitching position players is a World Series MVP and another a World Series winning manager.

So, in honor of Maldonado’s new place in Brewers lore, I compiled a brief history of Brewers position players who have pitched. What I like to refer to as “the best of the rest”.

Let’s start with Maldonado’s appearance and work backwards –

Martin Maldonado vs Cardinals – April 30, 2014 – Busch Stadium

Inning(s) Pitched: 8th
Score when entering game: Brewers 3 – Cardinals 9
Final Line:

IP H R ER BB SO HR BF Pit Str
1.0 1 O O O O O 4 15 9

On Wednesday, Maldonado faced four batters and needed only 15 pitches, nine for strikes, to work a scoreless eighth inning. Maldonando touched 86 MPH with his fastball and claims to be able to crank it up to 90. Ron Roenicke advised against the heroics, which is why Maldonado averaged just below 82 MPH on his heater. Maldonado also threw one slider and one change-up to opposing catcher Tony Cruz. Overall, the performance was strong enough to warrant a scouting report write-up by Dan Rozenson of Baseball Prospectus.

While it was a scoreless and quick inning, all four batters barreled up the ball. In order, Allen Craig singled to right. Johnny Peralta lined out to third baseman Jeff Bianchi. Greg Garcia hit a hard one-hopper to Bianchi, who forced out Craig at second. And Tony Cruz ended the inning by also lining out to Bianchi. In the end, it was strong outing by Maldonando. Don’t expect Maldy to turn into the next Kenley Jansen, but, if all other bullpen options are exhausted, he’s a solid secret weapon.

Joe Inglett vs Reds – July 27, 2010 – Miller Park

Inning(s) Pitched: 9th
Score when entering game: Brewers 4 – Reds 12
Final Line:

IP H R ER BB SO HR BF Pit Str
1.0 O O O O O O 3 6 5

Former utility man Joe Inglett was the last position player to climb the hill before Maldonado. Inglett played 102 games for the Crew in 2010. He roamed the outfield when needed, played a little second base, and, on July 27th, entered the Brewers’ record book by needing only six pitches to dispense of the top of the Reds line-up.

Inglett threw two pitches to each batter. Brandon Phillips took a called strike then popped out to second. Orlando Cabrera followed suit, taking a strike then bouncing one to Rickie Weeks. Joey Votto took a ball, of course, then flew out to deep center. All six pitches were fastballs. All clocked in at around 55 MPH.

Impressive outing! Who would have thought that Inglett’s combination of veteran wiles and the arm of a drunken fan eager to impress his buddies at the radar gun booth could be such a lethal combination.

Trent Durrington vs Astros – April 17, 2004  – Minute Maid Park

Inning(s) Pitched: 8th
Score when entering game: Brewers 5 – Astros 14
Final Line:

IP H R ER BB SO HR BF Pit Str
0.1 O O O O O O 1 1 1

Martin Maldonado wasn’t the first Brewers position player that Lyle Overbay watched pitch. During Overbay’s first tour of duty with the Crew, Trent Durrington, an utility infielder, went from playing third base to trying to pitch the Brewers out of a jam.

When the eighth inning started, the Astros lead 10-5. Ned Yost sent Luis Vizcaino to the mound to keep the game close. 47 pitches and one error later, Vizcaino had gotten only two outs while giving up two home runs. So, with two outs and runners on first and second, Trent Durrington moved from third base to the mound and made his major league debut.

Sadly, MLB’s “Pitch F/X” system was not used prior to the 2007 season. So I was unable to determine exactly how much gas Durrington’s arm was cooking with. What I do know is that Durrington made one pitch to Jose Vizcaino, who promptly flew out to right field. According to Wikipedia, “Durrington is the only Australian position player to have pitched in the Majors.”

Mark Loretta vs Reds – June 20, 2001  – Cinergy Field

Inning(s) Pitched: 8th
Score when entering game: Brewers 3 – Reds 11
Final Line:

IP H R ER BB SO HR BF Pit Str
1.0 1 O O 1 2 O 5 20 14

Brewers’ manager Davey Lopes was desperate. After playing five consecutive, close games, the Crew was being blown out and the team needed someone, anyone, to pitch the eighth inning. So Lopes asked for volunteers and infielder Mark Loretta accepted the challenge.

Loretta faced five batters and threw 20 pitches. Pokey Reese slapped the third pitch he saw into left field. Relief pitcher Chris Nichting, making one of only five PAs in his career, struck out swinging on four pitches. Lead-off hitter Alex Ochoa grounded into a potential double play but, after the force at second, an errant throw to first allowed Ochoa to advance to second base. Juan Castro worked a seven-pitch walk to put runners on first and second with two outs. Lorretta then faced Ruben Rivera, who had earlier replaced Ken Griffey in center. On the fifth pitch of the AB, Rivera took a called third strike to end the inning.

For all you Brewers trivia hounds out there, Mark Loretta is the last Brewers position player to record a strike out or walk.

Now it’s time to move into some rarefied air. Playing from 1969 to 1992, Rick Dempsey is one of only 29 MLB players who played in four decades. In 1983, Dempsey won a World Series with the Baltimore Orioles and was named the World Series MVP after posting an 1.390 OPS during the five-game series. Dempsey landed in Milwaukee for the 1991 season and, at the age of 41, found another way into the record books. Rick Dempsey is the only Brewer position player to have pitched in more than one game for the team.

Dempsey’s first appearance occurred:

Rick Dempsey vs Red Sox – July 2, 1991  – County Stadium

Inning(s) Pitched: 9th
Score when entering game: Brewers 4 – Red Sox 13
Final Line:

IP H R ER BB SO HR BF Pit Str
1.0 3 1 1 O O O 6 15 11

After allowing a double on the first pitch, Dempsey induced a pop up and ground ball. He was on the verge of stranding the lead-off double when a glorified swinging bunt by back-up catcher John Marzano extended the inning. Luis Rivera followed with a single that plated a run. Dempsey needed only one more pitch to record the final out on a fly ball to short right field.

Rick Dempsey is the last Brewers position player to allow a run. But his performance inspired enough confidence in manager Tom Trebelhorn to go to him again later that season.

Rick Dempsey vs Texas – August 3, 1991  – County Stadium

Inning(s) Pitched: 9th
Score when entering game: Brewers 5 – Texas 14
Final Line:

IP H R ER BB SO HR BF Pit Str
1.0 O O O 1 O O 4 18 8

After a generous 31 days of rest, Rick Dempsey made his second, and final, pitching appearance for the Brewers. Dempsey struggled to find the strike zone with only eight of his 18 pitches being strikes. But, following a lead-off walk, Dempsey induced three ground balls to get out of the inning. Bring Dempsey’s career pitching line to –

G IP H R ER BB SO ERA WHIP FIP ERA+
2 2.0 3 1 1 1 O 4.50 2.000 4.36 106

Now, Brewers history moves from a World Series winning MVP to a World Series winning manager –

Terry Francona vs A’s – May 15, 1989 – Coliseum

Inning(s) Pitched: 8th
Score when entering game: Brewers 2 – A’s 12
Final Line:

IP H R ER BB SO HR BF Pit Str
1.0 O O O O 1 O 3 12 8

Terry Francona may have won two World Series while managing the Red Sox, but that’s not all he should be remembered for. The clean inning he pitched for the Brewers against the A’s also deserves some attention. Though it took Francona twice as many pitches (12) as Joe Inglett to get through his inning, it was still an impressive performance. Francona induced two fly balls and got Stan Javier to strike out looking on three pitches. Making Fracona and Mark Loretta the only two Brewer positions players to ever record a strike out for the team.

There are three remaining position players who have pitched for the Brewers. Incredibly, all of them pitched on the same day. In what has to be one of the strangest Brewers games of all time, position players Sal Bando, Jim Gantner, and Buck Martinez all pitched against the Royals on August 29, 1979.

It was the first game in franchise history that a position player pitched. It is still the only game that multiple position players pitched, and the only game that a position player pitched multiple innings for the Crew. So what would lead Brewers’ manager George Bamberger to turn to position players to pitch five innings?

Starting pitcher Jim Slaton lasted only 0.2 IP and gave up five runs. Reggie Cleveland took over but allowed six runs. He was pulled in the fourth, before recording an out, but after allowing a home run that pushed the Royals lead to 11-4. Paul Mitchell replaced Cleveland but couldn’t get a single out. Mitchell faced four batters and allowed one home run, one walk, and two singles. Down 12-4, with still no one out in the fourth, Bamberger moved Bando from third base to the pitcher’s mound.

Here’s how Sal Bando fared –

Sal Bando vs Royals – August 29, 1979 – Royals Stadium

Inning(s) Pitched: 4th-6th
Score when entering game: Brewers 4 – Royals 12
Final Line:

IP H R ER BB SO HR BF Pit Str
3.0 3 2 2 O O O 13 NA NA

Bando came into a mess of a fourth inning – runners were on the corners, three runs were in, and no outs on the board. Bando would get three ground ball outs but also allow two singles and a double, making it 17-4 to end the fourth. Bando’s remaining two innings went smoothly. He worked around a two-out error in the fifth and recorded a clean sixth. Bando’s 3 IP were the most recorded by any Brewers pitcher that day.

Next to the hill was Jim Gantner –

Jim Gantner vs Royals – August 29, 1979 – Royals Stadium

Inning(s) Pitched: 7th
Score when entering game: Brewers 4 – Royals 17
Final Line:

IP H R ER BB SO HR BF Pit Str
1.0 2 O O O O O 5 NA NA

Wisconsin’s own Jim Gantner sandwiched two singles between two fly balls and a grounder back to the mound. Gantner played 17 years for the Crew but this was his only appearance as a pitcher.

Which brings us to the last position player to pitch for the Brewers, current Toronto Blue Jays play-by-play announcer Buck Martinez –

Buck Martinez vs Royals – August 29, 1979 – Royals Stadium

Inning(s) Pitched: 8th
Score when entering game: Brewers 4 – Royals 17
Final Line:

IP H R ER BB SO HR BF Pit Str
1.0 1 1 1 1 O O 5 NA NA

Buck Martinez walked the first batter he faced then got two ground ball outs. But a two out double by Hal McRae brought in the first Royals runs since the fourth inning.

When all was said and done Brewers position players pitched 5 IP, allowed six hits, and gave up 3 ER. Compare that to the 0.2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER allowed by starting pitcher Jim Slaton and the 2.1 IP, 8 H, 10 ER given up by two relievers.

Across 46 seasons, nine position players have combined to post this pitching line for desperate Brewers managers –

IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA WHIP
11.1 11 4 4 3 3 O 3.18 1.24

Not a bad line but, hopefully, not one the Brewers will have to add to again this season… unless Carlos Gomez gets to pitch. Then it’d be totally worth it.

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Comments

Tell us what do you think.

  1. Zak says: May 5, 2014

    Was Joe Inglett actually throwing fastballs? I was under the impression that he was trying to throw knuckleballs. I assume most major leaguers can throw harder than 55mph without too much effort.

  2. Juan says: May 6, 2014

    Good afternoon,

    I am almost certain Jeff Cirrillo (sp?) pitched for the BrewCrew as well…or he may have been on another team but his name does seem familiar with pitching for the Crew, just a thought.

    • Steve Garczynski says: May 6, 2014

      I thought Cirillo had pitched an inning for the Brewers at some point, but I couldn’t find it on Baseball Reference. He did pitch an inning when he played in Arizona.

    • Adam Wieser says: May 6, 2014

      Here’s the Baseball-Reference link to the inning Cirillo’s pitched –

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/gl.cgi?id=cirilje01&t=p&year=2007

      Even though it happened when he was a D-Back, Cirillo did pitch his inning against the Brewers. Mark Reynold was a D-Back at the time and actually played 2B behind Cirillo for that inning.

  3. Jeff says: May 6, 2014

    I could swear Jimmy Gantner pitched an inning in relief MUCH later than 1979. It’s when I was a kid – sometime in the late 80s early 90s. But who knows. Maybe I’m remembering wrong.

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