This remarkable start has come completely out of nowhere. Anyone who even hints that they saw this coming from the 24-year old Schwinden is straight up lying to your face.
Schwinden did not begin the year in Buffalo, but instead in AA. And he started in the AA bullpen. That's right, he was not considered one of the top-10 AA or AAA minor league starting pitchers to start the year. However, he was called up to make a spot start in the middle of April, and thanks to his outstanding success, and the natural roster churn at AAA, he's stayed, and stayed. As Mike Harrington wrote a week ago, Schwinden left most of his clothes in Binghamton, assuming he was headed right back to AA after his first AAA appearance.
Lets take a look at the numbers.
|2008||SSA - BKLN||2.01||14/8||62.67||53||21||14||3||12||70|
|2009||A - SAV||3.28||21/17||115.33||126||51||42||6||15||88|
|2010||A+ - ST L||1.84||7/2||34.33||34||8||7||2||5||23|
|2010||AA - Bmets||5.56||17/14||79.33||100||53||49||8||19||69|
|2011||AAA - BUF||1.81||7/7||39.67||26||8||8||1||12||35|
|2008||SSA - BKLN||2.01||1.7||10.1||5.8||0.4||7.6|
|2009||A - SAV||3.28||1.2||6.9||5.9||0.5||9.8|
|2010||A+ - ST L||1.84||1.3||6.0||4.6||0.5||8.9|
|2010||AA - Bmets||5.56||2.2||7.8||3.6||0.9||11.3|
|2011||AAA - BUF||1.81||2.7||7.9||2.9||0.2||5.9|
Last year in AA, he gave up over 11 hits per nine innings, but has cut that almost in half to 5.9 H/9 this year. He's also just stopped allowing home runs. And his walk rate is the highest of his career at 2.7. Feels fluky doesn't it? Opponents have a .236 BABIP against him, which would be pretty unsustainable.
However, maybe some of this is real. Perhaps the increased walk rate has something to do with the decrease in hits. Pitchers' walk rates tend to rise through the system as they face better, more disciplined hitters. Yet, Schwinden's always had remarkable control. Maybe he's just throwing more to the corners than he ever has. This has resulted in a few more walks and a lot more weak contact. Does this hold up? Anyone?
When I saw him last, in the New York-Penn League in 2008, he was sitting 88-90 with his fastball. Yup, it's time for an updated scouting report.