Colby Lewis Was Almost Perfect Against the A's Yesterday
Colby Lewis just can't lose.
At least, the Texas Rangers veteran right-hander hasn't been able to lose this year. And on Thursday, Lewis came within four outs of throwing his first career perfect game -- and then three outs away from his first career no-hitter -- before finally settling for a complete game 5-1 win over the A's in Oakland.
In 14 starts this year (93 innings) he has yet to lose, with a 6-0 record and a 2.81 ERA. And his stuff against Oakland was straight-up filthy at times.
Colby Lewis with the disappearing ball trick. #FitKitchenhttps://t.co/ZJFZwSEvf6
— MLB (@MLB) June 16, 2016
And it was especially disheartening the way Lewis lost his no-hitter, coming from a ball that was almost caught at the wall by the Rangers' spectacular Nomar Mazara.
Lewis lost his perfect game when he walked Yonder Alonso on four pitches with two outs in the eighth inning. You'd think Lewis would have grooved at least one or two in order to keep the perfecto alive, but four straight out of the zone ended that. Max Muncy then led off the ninth with a double off Mazara's glove, and Lewis lost the shutout when Coco Crisp hit a line-drive RBI double. In the end, he finished with a two-hitter.
There's something about pitching against the A's in Oakland that Lewis really likes. His last complete game was on September 11th last year in that same ballpark.
This has been quite a turnaround season for Lewis. Last year, in 33 starts, he posted a 4.66 ERA, and in 2014, it was 5.18 in 29 starts. And although Lewis has gone deep into the season without a loss so far...
Colby Lewis and Stephen Strasburg each have gone MLB season high 14 straight starts into season without a loss
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) June 16, 2016
...it's fair to wonder if a little bit of luck and smoke and mirrors have helped him.
His 5.79 strikeout per nine rate (K/9) this year is a career low, far below his career 7.17 K/9. He's also allowing just a .249 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) and is stranding 84.0% (LOB%) of baserunners this season. The league average BABIP is far higher .295, and the LOB% is far lower, 73.0%. So when Lewis reverts to the mean, it's likely his 2.81 ERA will start to go up.
But Texas doesn't need him to be an ace. They already have Cole Hamels and Yu Darvish for that. Lewis is perfectly fine as what he is, a number-three or number-four starting pitcher who is having an unexpectedly productive season.
And for one day, he was almost perfect.