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2015 Diamondbacks performance of the year: 4/17, Josh Collmenter, complete-game shutout

Josh Collmenter didn't have the best of seasons, as our Opening Day starter was moved to the bullpen by mid-June. But he still gave Arizona their only complete-game shutout, and repeats his win for this category in 2014.

It wasn't an emphatic victory, with Collmenter getting only 35% of the votes cast, but that was still enough for a clear margin of victory over the runner-up, Archie Bradley's debut, which scored 20%. Collmenter has been added to the roll of honor, listing all 'Pitties winners, going back to our first awards in 2006. Let's review the performance in more detail...

There had been 27 shutouts pitched in the majors at the start of play on Friday, April 17th, but there hadn't been a single conplete-game thrown by any one of the 278 starters. That changed in San Francisco, as Josh Collmenter threw a gem, taking 114 pitches to blank the Giants, allowing only four hits and a walk. Adding to his impact, Collmenter picked up his first multi-hit game at the plate, going 3-for-5 with an RBI, to become the first pitcher in the majors to get three hits and throw a shutout since Adam Wainwright, more than two years previously (April 13, 2013).

It was all the more unexpected, because Collmenter's first two starts for Arizona had been far from solid. Indeed, against this same Giants' team, just 11 days previously, Josh hadn't even managed to get through five frames, allowing ten hits and five runs in just 4.2 innings. His follow-up, against the Dodgers, only lasted five innings, and he entered here with an 0-2 record and an ERA of 6.52, hardly encouraging numbers. But if ever we needed a big game from Josh, it was here, because the previous night had seen all seven available Arizona relievers used, to squeak past San Francisco 7-6, in 12 innings. Josh was actually warming up when we won that one.

Collmenter seemed to get stronger as he went on. He allowed singles with two outs in each of the first three innings, but ended the threat there, and San Francisco didn't get a man past first base - or another hit - until there was one out in the ninth, when Joe Panik doubled. But a strikeout and a pop-up to short preserved the shutout, and he finished with a line of four hits and a walk, facing four batters over the minimum, as the walk was immediately followed by a double-play ball. It wasn't the most dominant of performances, Collmenter striking out just a pair, his velocity maxing out at 87.2 mph with a low of 72.9. But it clearly shows that you can win without throwing 95 mph.

Let's not forget Collmenter's prowess at the plate. He came into the game with a career batting average of just .114, but you wouldn't have known it, as he singled off Jake Peavy in the fourth, driving in Chris Owings, then singled off Ryan Vogelsong in the seventh, and finished off his night with a lead-off hit in the ninth against former D-back (and near perfect-game hurler) Yusmeiro Petit, coming around to score. He became the 11th D-backs starter to record a three-hit game (trivia question: which D-backs player got three hits and pitched in relief the same game? Answer at the end). In a year when our pitchers struggled at the dish, it was their only three-hit performance.

All that activity may have helped Josh. He said, "That was a blessing in disguise. It’s fun when you can hit and be a productive member of the lineup but it also helped out on a cold night to get out there and move around as opposed to just sitting in the dugout." After the game, Collmenter knew what was responsible for his success. "For me, it was the fastball command. It was huge for me. I was able to move the ball in and out. Everything for me plays off of that... Tonight I did a much better job of pitching down in the zone. If I can pitch down in the zone, that's when I get a lot of those fly balls and even ground balls. When I'm up in the zone, the pitches just become so much easier to hit."

Manager Chip Hale was equally impressed. "He was unbelievable. He did a good job. So we were extremely happy with what he did, not only with the pitching, but with the bat; it was incredible. He just had an overall great game. It was exactly what we needed with our bullpen the way it was." It was Collmenter's second career complete-game shutout, and he became the first pitcher since Tim Belcher in 1988-89 to have consecutive seasons in which he recorded both a CGSO and a Save! Both of Collmenter's shutouts have won the 'Pittie for Performance of the Year, so I wouldn't bet against him for a three-peat in 2016.

[Answer to trivia question. The only D-back to get three hits and pitch in relief that same game, was Steve Finley on August 30, 2001. Yeah, bit of a trick question, I know!]