Where does Angels rookie Reid Detmers fit in the rotation?
Rookie left-hander Reid Detmers threw a no-hitter for the Los Angeles Angels against the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night, and it came at a point in the MLB season when only two other pitchers in the entire league had even thrown a complete game. Major-league front offices, fans have warily realized, tend to direct the manager to let the bullpen finish things off no matter what. Hey, it takes a village!
It's not like lineups around the league aren't capable of being shut down. It happens a lot, actually.
A total of 68 shutouts, including three on Tuesday with Justin Verlander's near no-hitter among them, have happened so far in 2022. Remember the first few weeks of 2021, when everyone and their brother (and some of their friends) were throwing no-hitters? There were six no-hitters alone from April 9 to May 19. Pitchers aren’t quite chucking at that pace this season, even with the ooey-gooey baseball that's reportedly in play. The other no-hitter this season, a combined effort by the New York Mets, required four relief pitchers following starter Tylor Megill on April 29.
One-pitcher no-hitters are better, as Detmers' teammate Noah Syndergaard pointed out in a social media post on Instagram that also poked fun at Syndergaard's old team, apparently for needing more than a third of the entire pitching staff to get it done.
Don’t be a Thor winner!
In contrast to the Mets, Detmers kept the mound to himself, being allowed by manager Joe Maddon to throw 108 pitches in his 11th career start to blank Tampa Bay. He finished with one walk and two strikeouts and gave up a lot of middling contact in a 12-0 victory. As if the baseball gods didn't think a plain-old no-hitter would be cool enough by itself, even by a singular author, the Angels' rout also included Rays outfielder Brett Phillips pitching in the eighth inning to slugger Anthony Rendon, who turned around to hit left-handed for the first time in his career. Of course, Rendon hit a home run.
Sometimes, the game is incredibly hard. Other times, it's just kind of goofy. Even within the same nine innings.
One could say that Phillips versus lefty Rendon relieved some of the no-hitter’s brewing tension. Detmers said he wasn't really feeling any pressure until he got two strikes in the ninth inning on Yandy Díaz, the final batter. The previous Angels no-hitter came in 2019, a combined effort by Taylor Cole and Félix Peña. The one before that: Jered Weaver by himself in 2012. He chimed in to congratulate his colleague.
Maybe Detmers won’t recall the moment at all. He also said this about pitching with the pressure of history: "I mean, I thought that I said around the sixth inning … I don't know. I just blacked out, I don't know."
No problem. It’s why they make videos to help you remember.
No matter the sideshow, it obviously was an impressive performance by Detmers who, at 22 years old, came in with a strong pedigree if not much experience. Detmers was the 10th overall pick in 2020, when Billy Eppler was still the Angels general manager, and was rated by MLB.com in the preseason as the top left-handed pitching prospect in the league. This didn’t come from nowhere, even if many weren’t yet familiar with Detmers.
(Say, does this mean Eppler will get some retroactive credit for getting the pitching depth the Angels had been seeking behind Shohei Ohtani for years? Eppler also had a hand in the Mets no-hitter, having acquired one of the components, left-hander Joely Rodríguez, just before the season opener. Also: Does that mean this could be the year of the Billy Eppler no-hitter?)
The Angels man of the moment is Detmers, who Maddon slotted in April as the team's No. 2 starter between Ohtani, who took Opening Day, and Syndergaard, the big free-agent import from the Mets who went in the third game. Until recently, Detmers' overall results in the majors had been (let's say it this way to be kind) not what he wanted. He entered Tuesday’s game with a 5.32 ERA this season and 6.33 for his career after debuting in 2021 and making five starts. He did seem on the upswing, carrying a 3.68 ERA in his three previous starts since April 22 along with encouraging side numbers. So this could be part of a springboard to something bigger.
At the same time, a no-hitter in one's cap guarantees only so much in the way of job security, as Philip Humber will testify. The Chicago White Sox placed him on waivers about 7 1/2 months after he threw the 21st perfect game in MLB history in 2012. The effort did give Humber enough mound cred to stick around MLB organizations for another four years. And he was the third overall pick in 2004, so his perfecto didn’t come from nowhere either. But he also kind of went nowhere once the moment had ended. Still, nobody will take away Humber’s perfect game. (Signed, Harvey Haddix.)
Unlike the 2012 White Sox, who not even manager Robin Ventura remembers thoroughly, the 2022 Angels seem to be going places. Also happening Tuesday night: Mike Trout hit two home runs and Shohei Ohtani enjoyed his 2021 American League MVP ceremony. The Angels are 21-11 and in first place in the AL West. And things really came together for their best prospect, no-hit legend Reid Detmers.