Frieri opens Angels career with historic numbers

Frieri opens Angels career with historic numbers

SEATTLE -- Upon acquiring a little-known reliever named Ernesto Frieri from the Padres on May 3, some of the first words uttered by Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto were: "He misses bats."

Does he ever.

In 10 innings since joining the Angels, Frieri, with his deceptive delivery and electric fastball, has yet to give up a hit, has walked seven, has hit one and has recorded 22 strikeouts. That means that of the 37 batters he's faced, only seven have done so much as put the ball in play.

With a four-out, three-strikeout save on Saturday, Frieri joined starting pitchers Roger Clemens (1986 and '96), Kerry Wood ('98) and Randy Johnson (2001) as members of the 20-strikeouts-in-nine-innings club. Granted, it took Frieri 10 games to do it.

The last pitcher to have 20 or more strikeouts in his first 10 innings with a team? Tom "Flash" Gordon, who did exactly that with the Cubs in '01, according to Elias Sports Bureau. And since 1921, Frieri is the first pitcher with 20-plus strikeouts and no earned runs in his first 10 innings with a new club, according to Stats LLC.

Of course, nobody expects Frieri to continue his current rate of 19.8 strikeouts per nine innings with the Angels. But as his 12.1 rate in 118 1/3 big league innings proves, he does, as Dipoto will tell you, miss bats. In fact, that strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate ranks fifth all-time among pitchers who have compiled at least 100 innings, behind only the Braves' Craig Kimbrel (15.1 in 114 2/3 innings), the Dodgers' Kenley Jansen (14.9 in 104 2/3), the Yankees' David Robertson (12.2 in 216 1/3) and former Reds reliever Rob Dibble (12.2 in 477).

Most important to the Angels, though, is that Frieri has yet to give up a hit, making him the first player in the last eight years to do that over his first 10 innings with a club, and that he has helped stabilize the back end of their bullpen.

With Frieri joining Scott Downs and Jordan Walden in the late innings, the Angels' bullpen is currently on a run that has seen it post a 0.72 ERA over the last 37 1/3 frames.

"He's been unbelievable," Downs said of Frieri. "His attitude's been great, he's a hard worker, he's a good kid. And it helps. It's another guy in the back end of the bullpen that's going to help us out, and he has confidence in what he does. And I think his confidence rubs off on other people."