No California League pitching staff has allowed fewer runs, notched as many shutouts, or accumulated a lower WHIP than the pitching staff of the Visalia Rawhide has. The team can attribute part of that success to high draft picks Max Scherzer, Jarrod Parker, and Wes Roemer - none of whom is with the club any longer - but the bulk of the accolades deserve to go to the two pitchers who lead the team in innings pitched by a wide margin: Josh Collmenter and Patrick McAnaney.
Collmenter is currently 6-3 with a 3.29 ERA and 63 innings pitched through 11 starts. He has struck out 56 batters while walking just 15 and allowing only 46 hits. His 0.97 WHIP leads the California League. He went 2-0 with 14 strikeouts, two walks, and four hits allowed in 11 innings over his first two starts to win the California League Pitcher of the Week Award, the second Pitcher of the Week Award in his professional career.
Collmenter has been able to sustain success in a hitter-friendly environment despite not being a power pitcher.
"My game plan is to locate my pitches and mix it up, try to keep hitters off-balance," Collmenter said. "They say if you have an ERA under 4.00 [in the California League], it's a good year. Now it's just a matter of trying to repeat it, keep up the intensity and focus."
McAnaney is once again tied for the league-lead in wins after securing his seventh victory of the season Wednesday night. He has just one defeat to go with his 2.98 ERA through a dozen starts, and has allowed 17 walks and 55 hits over 66.1 innings. He has fanned 58 batters in that span, and earned the Cal League Pitcher of the Week Award himself in May after two consecutive shutout efforts.
"Those things are nice, but to be honest I really don't pay too much attention to those things," McAnaney once said of his stellar statistics. "I don't think any good comes from checking stats like that. It is kind of nice how things have gone so far, but I'm just trying to go out there and compete."
Collmenter and McAnaney owe much of their success to a good defense behind them, as neither has allowed an unearned run all season. In particular, they owe centerfielder Ollie Linton. Both pitchers allow their fair share of flyballs, and the dry, windy air in California can make those flyballs difficult to track and catch up to. That hasn't been the case for Linton, who not only covers as much ground as any other outfielder in the league, but who also has not committed an error in 58 games. Moreover, the leadoff hitter has ranked among the best in the league in runs, walks, and on-base percentage all year long, serving as the catalyst for an efficient-yet-unspectacular Rawhide offense.
You could make a strong case that Collin Cowgill (.279/.371/.451), Leyson Septimo (2-0 2.17), or Jordan Norberto (3-0, 2.12) deserves to make the squad, but it is obvious that Ollie Linton deserves to play in that game. The fans in attendance June 23rd will be deprived of seeing one of the most exciting and valuable players in the California League.
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