When the Atlanta Braves signed Derek Lowe before the 2009 season, they probably never envisioned him producing strikeout totals that mimic the Johnsons of the pitching world (Walter, Randy, or Josh, no difference). Predicting low whiff totals turns out to be a good expectation because Lowe would have disappointed; instead the team can stand back staring amusingly at his most recent box score like the rest of us.
On Monday night, Lowe managed to strike out 12 Washington Nationals within eight innings. Such a factoid was lost in the marquee matchups with playoff implications but 12 K’s stand out for Lowe in particular as it represents a career high in a single game. In fact, Lowe had previously struck out double digit batters in only two games. For comparison’s sake, Brandon Webb has more than a dozen games of that variety. Lowe is a sinkerballer, sure, and one who has spent time in the bullpen as well, but he’s just not a strikeout guy.
The notables include most of the Nationals’ lineup, but Ian Desmond contributed heavily to Lowe’s night as the youngster struck out three times on 15 pitches. Mike Morse fell twice (in three at-bats) on 11 pitches and Roger Bernadina twice on 12 pitches spread out over three at-bats as well. It was just one of those nights for the Nationals’ lineup, as Billy Wagner would strike out the side in the ninth on 12 pitches himself.
All told, Lowe recorded a .254 WPA, one of his better starts this season and a stark contrast from two times through the rotation ago, when he recorded one of the worst starts of his career.