|Could (and should) Scott Atchison carve out another All-Star Game story?||05.29.12 at 9:59 am ET|
Scott Atchison knows All-Star Games.
The Red Sox reliever last appeared in one during the 2004 season, representing the Tacoma Rainiers in the 2004 Triple-A All-Star Game in Pawtucket. It was a game in which Atchison certainly left his mark, as he explains …
“We’re losing and I haven’t pitched. I’m thinking, ‘Great, I flew all the way across the country to Pawtucket and I’m not going to play, this is great,’” he remembered. “We tie the game. I throw the ninth, 1-2-3. I go out for the bottom of the 10th, I get two outs really quick, nobody is on, and they make an announcement if there is no runs scored this inning this game is going to end in a tie. I was the last pitcher. So the whole place is booing. Two pitches in, whack! Pretty good pitch but [then-Yankees prospect Andy Phillips] hits the homer. The place went nuts. I think the big story was that this would be the only time Red Sox fans applaud a Yankee prospect. That was the last one I pitched in. I made all the fans in Pawtucket happy.”
Eight years later, Atchison has a shot — albeit an outside one — to get a second chance.
With six weeks left until the All-Star Game in Kansas City, Atchison has entered the conversation regarding finding a way on to the American League roster. He leads the AL in innings among all relievers (29), while totaling an 0.93 ERA and .194 batting average against.
The ERA is fourth-best among AL relievers with at least 16 innings pitched, with the Angels’ Scott Downs, Baltimore’s Jim Johnson and Ryan Cook of the A’s the only relief pitchers in front of him. It should be noted than when comparing the pitchers to Atchison, Downs has 13 fewer innings, Johnson is a closer and Cook has eight more walks in fiver fewer innings.
So, a case could be made.
“It’s early and I haven’t seen too many middle men make All-Star teams,” said Atchison, who has gone 12 straight appearances without giving up a run after his two-inning scoreless stint against the Tigers Monday. “Honestly, I’m just trying to do my thing. If something like that was to happen, great. But I can’t worry about that stuff. I just worry about going out and throwing zeroes.”
The reality is that middle relievers make fewer All-Star Games than any other position, with nods usually going to starters and closers, and then maybe set-up men. A pitcher like Daniel Bard, who has had first halves in which he dominated his role as set-up man, couldn’t even crack the group. And, last season, it took a first half of pitching 38 innings, giving up five earned runs (1.27 ERA) for Yankees’ reliever Dave Robertson to make the All-Star Game.
“I wish more made it,” Atchison said. “Somebody like Bard, how does that guy not make the All-Star Game? He was leading the league in holds, appearances, stuff like that. That’s a valuable role. Without a guy like him we’re in trouble. I wish more guys like that would get recognition in an All-Star Game instead of just starters and closers. Not to take anything away from closers or starters, you have to have those guys, but teams that don’t have that guy that can get from the starter to the closer then their not winning ballgames and the closer isn’t racking up saves. I think that they should get a little bit more respect than they do.
“Every once in a while you’re like, ‘That guy should be there.’ I know it’s a unique position, and maybe it doesn’t get the recognition sometimes, but I think maybe sometimes I wish it did.”
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