Thoughts on Josh Collmenter's Imperfecto

Christian Petersen

Last night, Josh Collmenter became the second Diamondbacks to face the minimum 27 batters. It wasn't a perfect game, as he allowed three hits. It was, however, pretty cool.

The imperfecto

There needs to be a name for facing the minimum number of hitters over nine innings, but not throwing a perfect game, or even a no-hitter. After all, it's a rarer feat than the latter. In the past century, 61 pitchers have done it, compared to the 283 no-hitters recorded in baseball history. The last time was by the Padres' Andrew Cashner, against the Pirates last September. He gave up one hit, and it was erased on a double-play.. Allowing as many as three hits, like Collmenter, and still facing the minimum is rarer still: that has only happened thirteen times in the past hundred years, most recently by Roy Oswalt for Houston in September 2008.

Two Diamondback pitchers have come close to an imperfecto before. On September 14, 2003, Randy Johnson faced one over the minimum number of Rockies. Garrett Atkins walked in the fourth and was left on first. Rene Reyes got the only hit in the fifth, and was picked off by the Big Unit. And just over four years later, Micah Owings matched that feat against the Giants. Dave Roberts singled and walked, but both times was removed from the game by a double-play off the bat of Randy Winn (guess he didn't always kill us!). A Pedro Feliz double was the sole base-runner not erased during this one.

And just in case you're wondering, the MOST batters faced by a Diamondback during a complete game is 38, which has happened three times, by Johnson, Brian Anderson and Andy Benes. Randy's was particularly remarkable, as he allowed eight hits and three walks in July 2002, but struck out 15 and threw 149 pitches. That's tied with Edwin Jackson's no-hitter for the most in franchise history; the only pitcher to throw more in any game since the end of 2000, was another with a D-back connection Livan Hernandez, who went 150 for the Nationals in 2005, and didn't even get credit for a complete game, since it required 11 innings.

Economy

Speaking of pitch-counts, it took Josh 94 to complete work last night - there have been only two complete-game shutouts in team history in fewer. On April 10th, 2001, Curt Schilling needed 93 to dispose of the Dodgers, and on July 18th, 2003, Miguel Batista took the same to complete a 6-0 win over the Padres. The shortest complete-game all time was a Randy Johnson effort from 2004, that needed only 82 pitches, even though he struck out 11. However, that one lasted eight innings, not nine, as he lost 2-1 to the Pirates. Brandon McCarthy also had a 93-pitch complete game last season, a 4-1 loss to Toronoto, but Collmenter's is the quickest CG win since Batista in 2003.

The outing also gave Collmenter entry into an elite club, throwing his first "Maddux" - a complete game shutout on less than 100 pitches. [H/T Jason Lukehart for telling me there was a name for this kind of thing! He has a page with more info on the Maddux and stats related to it.] Others who have done it for Arizona are Anderson (1999), Schilling and Batista as noted above, Brandon Webb (2006), and Brandon McCarthy (another game last year, where we beat the Marlins 1-0).

It was this economy which allowed Josh to complete the first complete game of his career. His previous longest outing was an eight-inning effort against Milwaukee on July 18, 2011, which took 105 pitches. The most he has ever thrown in a game was 111, facing the Dodgers on July 6, 2012, but as we all know from last season, Collmenter's stamina isn't an issue. Perhaps his most impressive feat was throwing 78 in relief for us, during the opening series against St. Louis in 2013 - despite having worked 1.2 innings the previous day!

Game Score

Josh Collmenter's effort resulted in a Game Score of 86, the best this season by a Diamondback, surpassing the 81 put up by McCarthy against the Nationals on May 14, when he allowed two hits over 8 innings, Josh matched Patrick Corbin's best for 2013, and hasn't been exceeded since Ian Kennedy one-hit the Pirates for eight in September 2011, which rated a 91. It's the 36th time this mark has been reached for Arizona.  Randy Johnson owns 16 of those; the others belong to Curt Schilling (6), Brandon Webb (4), Kennedy and Dan Haren (2 apiece), with one each by Albie Lopez, Brian Anderson, Collmenter, Corbin, Owings and Miguel Batista.

It is also, obviously, Collmenter's best-ever mark, but not perhaps by as much as you'd think. It edges out the start against the Brewers mentioned above, where he also allowed three hits and no walks, and allowed no runs, but struck out seven rather than five. That was just an eight inning effort, however, so its Game Score ended at 83. That's the only other time Josh has passed 75, with his career median Game Score now sitting at 55. It also boosted Collmenter's mean for this season to 53.9; he's our only starter above the league average this year, of 53. This is my unsurprised face.

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