Stetter's strikeout record makes mark
Reliever comes through with dominant June streak
MILWAUKEE -- Mitch Stetter managed to set a franchise record and stumped the vaunted Elias Sports Bureau all during one fluky streak in June. He chalked it up as nothing more than good fortune.
"Obviously, it's sheer luck when you go back and look at it," Stetter said.From June 9-25, the Brewers' left-handed relief specialist recorded 15 consecutive outs via strikeout, the longest such streak in franchise history. Ben Sheets recorded 10 straight outs via whiffs in 2008. To be clear: Stetter didn't retire 15 batters in a row. But during the streak, every batter he did retire went down on strikes. "Just lucky," Stetter said. "I'm trying to get guys out and it just happened they were strikeouts." The Brewers looked into where Stetter's streak ranked in larger baseball history, but Elias couldn't provide the answer. Stetter's run finally ended in the seventh inning on June 25, when the Twins' Jason Kubel followed a Justin Morneau strikeout with a flyout to right field. Stetter came comically close to seeing the streak end well before Kubel's fly ball. On June 17 in Cleveland, he came off the third-base side of the mound to field what should have been a Victor Martinez groundout, but Stetter bobbled the ball for an error. On June 24, Twins catcher Joe Mauer lined a ball that struck Stetter right in the glove, but popped out for an infield single. "I think he's missing those balls on purpose, so he keeps his strikeout streak going," Brewers manager Ken Macha quipped at the time. The streak came amid a larger run of success for Stetter. From May 27-July 8, he made 17 consecutive appearances without allowing a run. Stetter took over in 2009 as Milwaukee's lone situational left-hander and finished the year 4-1 with a 3.60 ERA in 71 games, more than doubling his previous career high for appearances. With his funky delivery, Stetter held left-handed hitters to a .178 batting average and held his own after the departure of reliable Brewers lefty Brian Shouse via free agency. Early in the season Stetter kept in touch with Shouse, who signed with Tampa Bay for 2009. Shouse mentored Stetter about staying fit as appearances pile up. "I don't want to limit myself to lefties," Stetter said. "Obviously, they are probably going to use me in situations against lefties, but I want to get righties out, too. I've had situations where I pitched two innings, and I want to be able to do that again." If he keeps striking everybody out, Stetter will have plenty of chances.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.