Pitcher Ty Blach’s sensational 2016 season was capped off by receiving a call-up to the show. Now that he’s with the San Francisco Giants, the 25-year-old southpaw has a chance to show that his season in AAA with the Sacramento River Cats was no fluke.
Blach has only appeared in one game since joining the big leagues, but he showed just what kind of potential he possessed when he pitched three innings of shutout ball.
While Blach isn’t a consistent strikeout pitcher as many lefties are (Blach had no strikeouts in his three inning performance with the Giants), he has the ability to get a K when needed but relies on his precise control to dominate batters. In 162 2/3 innings with AAA, Blach struck out 113 batters while walking 38.
Blach’s 14 wins on the year with the River Cats was good enough to tie the team record. While the Giants have only partnered with the Cats for two seasons now, Sacramento has definitely had its fair share of pitching talent develop over the years.
While dominant, or mediocre, pitching in the minors doesn't exactly matter, it's interesting to see how a pitcher stacks up. So where exactly does Blach’s season compare to some of the best in River Cats history? A history that includes some prominent names such as Barry Zito, Mark Mulder and Gio Gonzalez, among others.
Ty Blach 2016 Season:
In his second season with Sacramento, Blach pitched to the tune of a 14-7 record for a River Cats team that never really found a rhythm. The team went 69-75 and landed in last place in the Pacific Coast League Pacific Northern division.
But Blach, a representative in the AAA All-Star Game, made a killing every fifth day. Blach was undefeated for over a month spanning the end of June to the end of July as he went 5-0 over the stretch. This was the peak for Blach’s impressive season.
In those five games, Blach went 37 innings and only allowed four runs. Blach also had his first — and last — double-digit strikeout game on the year during the winning streak as he racked up 10 Ks against the Albuquerque Isotopes.
Blach finished the year with a 3.34 ERA and a 1.137 WHIP, according to Baseball Reference.
Justin Duchscherer 2003 Season
When talking about the River Cats all-time win record in a season, Duchscherer has held that title since 2003. His 14-2 season with the Cats that season was one for the books. His .875 win-percentage is obviously telling, but what’s truly worth noting is his strikeout-walk ratio.
Duchscherer had 117 punch outs in 155 innings but also only gave up 18 walks on the year.
His SO/BB was an outstanding 6.50, according to BB Ref. Blach’s was a 2.97 for comparison.
Duchscherer had a 3.25 ERA and a 1.090 WHIP during the 2003 season.
Jason Windsor 2006 Season
Unlike Duchscherer, Windsor never had a major league career after a season in which Windsor had a .929 win-percentage. Windsor went 13-1 in 2006 and had a 4.04 ERA. He had a 9.4 K/9 on his way to 123 strikeouts in 118 innings. Windsor also had a 1.356 WHIP.
After receiving a call for the Athletics in 2006, Windsor made four appearances but didn’t earn a win for the club. Windsor would go back down to the Cats in 2007 before he tore his labrum in his right shoulder (his pitching arm) and wasn’t able to make it back to the bigs. He retired in 2009.
Mike Wood 2004 Season
While names like Chad Bradford and Joe Blanton would be remembered for their time in the majors, Wood was leading the Cats in almost every pitching category in 2004. Wood went 11-3 in ’06 and had a premium 2.80 ERA.
Although Wood only made 15 starts, he made them count as he finished the season with 90 innings pitched (6 innings per start average). Wood’s 66/24 K/BB ratio wasn’t exactly mind-bending but he had a solid 1.189 WHIP. (BB Ref)
Wood would go on to play for the A’s, Royals and Rangers during his four years in the majors.
Clayton Blackburn 2015 Season
The first year the Giants affiliated with the capital’s own River Cats and 22-year-old Clayton Blackburn made his presence felt.
Blackburn led way for Sacramento with a 10-4 record and a 2.85 ERA. Blackburn just missed topping 100 Ks as he finished the year with 99 in 123 innings pitched. Blackburn also had a 1.293 ERA for the club.
Blackburn started off the 2015 season slow with losses in three of his first four appearances but he’d finish the season winning nine of his final 10 decisions to finish with the 10-4 year.
As consistent a season as you can have as a pitcher, Blackburn only allowed more than two earned runs twice the entire year. He had seven games where he allowed no earned runs.