On Monday night, Zephyrs’ starter Pat Misch attracted national media attention when he set a Pacific Coast League record by hitting five batters, including four straight in the first inning. After the game, we wouldn’t be surprised if Misch received attention such as this at a local Oklahoma City pub.
Indians Fan: Hey, Vaughn. Can I have your autograph?
[Hands Vaughn a match box with a pen]
Rick Vaughn: Sure.
[while signing the match box]
Rick Vaughn: My first autograph. I couldn’t give these away a few weeks ago.
Indians Fan: I heard your news on the radio. You made their hall of shame.
However, despite the infamous sequence that took place at Chicksaw Bricktown Ballpark, Misch will not be sporting thick framed glasses in his next start. Because unlike Ricky Vaughn, Misch has actually been seeing and hitting the strike zone just fine this season.
If hearing Misch’s name come up in the media again sounds like deja vu, there’s a reason why. Misch was the starting pitcher for the Giants on August 4, 2007 in the game in which Barry Bonds hit his 755th home run and tied Hank Aaron for most on the all time list. In 2009, he once again made headlines as just the second starting pitcher in MLB history to begin his career by appearing in 12 games all of which his team lost. It was undoubtedly a slow start to his career as a starter for Misch but prior to that, he settled in nicely. Over his next ten starts from 2009 to 2010, he had seven 5+ inning starts in which he gave up four runs or less, including a complete game shutout.
This season has been much more of the same for Misch. After signing a minor league contract with the Marlins in the offseason in order to attempt a comeback, the 33-year-old, despite garnering the inauspicious media attention, has been one of the Zephyrs’ best arms. Over his four starts, he has posted a 2.95 ERA with a 1.22 WHIP. Five of the seven earned runs Misch gave up came in one of his starts. Without the off-night start against Oklahoma City (in which he still rebounded to last six frames after the bad first inning), his ERA would sit at 1.05.
All of this isn’t to say that Misch is priming himself to be ace material or even 1-3 starter material. He never has been and he never will be. What he is is a finesse lefty trying to restart his career with the Marlins who still holds on to a four pitch repertoire including good out-pitch changeup. While his days of hoping to wind up in anyone’s rotation are pretty much well and gone, for a team whose bullpen houses 25-year-old long reliever Brad Hand (16 IP, 3.94 ERA and out of options) and a collective ERA of 4.16 including a 4.09 ERA vs lefties, Misch could provide value for the Marlins as either a mop-up guy or a LOOGY, especially if the Fish decide to deal Hand, a very distinct possibility especially if the Fish still find themselves in contention at the break.
In other words, while Misch may have failed to miss hitting opposing batters a few nights ago, he hasn’t missed the boat making its back to the majors just yet.