Jake Diekman

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Jacob Tanner Diekman

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Biographical Information[edit]

Jake Diekman made it to the big leagues in 2012.

Diekman was picked by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 30th round of the 2007 amateur draft. The scout was Jerry Lafferty. He made his pro debut with the GCL Phillies and did well enough (1-3, 2.92) to earn a promotion to the Williamsport Crosscutters, where he had a 2-1, 2.25 record. He began 2008 with the Lakewood BlueClaws and was 3-5 with a 5.42 ERA and .310 opponent average. He was demoted back to Williamsport, where he went 1-4 with a 4.40 ERA. He spent 2009 with Lakewood, going 2-0 with two saves and a 4.04 ERA in a new relief role. After a strong 2010 start with the BlueClaws (2-0, 1.90, 30 K in 23 2/3 IP, albeit with 15 walks), he was promoted to the Clearwater Threshers and was 0-2 with a 3.66 ERA in 24 games. He allowed a .187 average for the year with 56 strikeouts in 55 2/3 IP but also with 38 walks. He played in the Arizona Fall League.

The Nebraskan was 0-1 with 3 saves and a 3.05 ERA for the 2011 Reading Phillies, holding lefties to a .099 average (9 hits in 91 at-bats) and whiffing 83 in 65 innings. He tied Ricky Brooks for 4th in the Eastern League with 53 pitching appearances. He allowed only one earned run and struck out 14 in 11 1/3 IP for Scottsdale in the Arizona Fall League. He opened 2012 with the Lehigh Valley IronPigs and was excellent after 13 games (1-0, 5 Sv, 1 R in 15 1/3 IP, 22 K to 3 BB).

Diekman was then called up to the big leagues along with veteran Raúl Valdés; they replaced Joe Savery and Brian Sanches on the Phillies. In his major league debut on May 15, 2012, he relieved Chad Qualls in the top of the 9th with two men in scoring position, two outs and a 3-3 tie, a pressure-filled situation if there ever was one. He came through, striking out fellow rookie Marwin Gonzalez. In the 10th, he retired Jed Lowrie on a fly then whiffed both Jose Altuve and Jordan Schafer. Diekman got the win when Hunter Pence homered in the bottom of the inning. It was his only victory of the season, but he did pitch 32 times in relief for the Phils, with a record of 1-1, 3.95 and 35 K's in 27 1/3 innings. He struggled a bit with his control,. however, as he also issued 20 walks. In 2013, he pitched 45 times out of the bullpen, logging 38 1/3 innings as he was used as lefthanded specialist. He went 1-4 with a 2.58 ERA and struck out 41 hile walking 16, the marked improvement in his walk rate being key to better results.

On September 1, 2014, he was the second of four Phillies pitchers to combine on a 7-0 no-hitter over the Atlanta Braves. He took over for Cole Hamels who had pitched the first six innings and pitched a perfect 7th before handing the ball over to Ken Giles in the 8th, with Jonathan Papelbon completing the feat. He pitched 73 games for the Phillies that season, going 5-5 with a 3.80 ERA and 100 strikeouts in 71 innings as a set-up man for Papelbon. In 2015, like all Phillies relievers not named Papelbon, he struggled in the first half, and his record was 2-1, 5.15 after 41 games when on July 29th he and Hamels were traded to the Texas Rangers in return for P Matt Harrison and five prospects: Ps Alec Asher, Jerad Eickhoff and Jake Thompson, C Jorge Alfaro and OF Nick Williams.

Diekman has suffered rom ulcerative colitis for most of his life, but in 2017, the pain became unbearable and he decided to undergo surgery. This was a much more complicated process than anticipated as he needed three different surgeries in his abdomen, resulting in the removal of his colon and the reconstruction of his digestive tract. He missed the first five months of the season as a result and eventually returned to the majors in September, pitching in 11 games. After the season, he was named the recipient of the Hutch Award for his work with sufferers of Crohn's disease and colitis.

He split the 2018 season between the Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks, pitching 71 games and going 1-2, 4.73. He was again traded in mid-season in 2019, starting the season with the Kansas City Royals before being dealt to the Oakland Athletics at the trading deadline. He appeared in a career-high 76 games that season, going 1-7, 4.65. He also pitched a third of an inning in Oakland's loss in the Wild Card Game. He was with Oakland in both 2020 and 2021 with 21 and 67 games respectively, putting up a sparkling 0.42 ERA in the pandemic-shortened season, and picking up 7 saves with a 3.86 ERA in 2021. He returned to the postseason in 2020 and pitched a total of 6 games, picking up a save in the Wild Card Series against the Chicago White Sox - after not getting one during the regular season.

In March of 2022 he signed a free agent contract with the Boston Red Sox, who gave him a chance to be their closer. He blew his first save opportunity on Opening Day, April 8th when he was unable to close out a win in extra innings against the New York Yankees, when the designated runner came around to score, but registered a first save in spectacular fashion two days later when he struck out the heart of the Yankees' batting order in the 9th to preserve a 4-3 win, with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Joey Gallo going down in order. However, that turned out to be his only save for Boston, as he was moved to different roles, and went 5-1, 4.23 in 44 games. On August 1st, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox in return for C Reese McGuire and a player to be named later.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Doug Miller: "Diekman wins Hutch Award for community service: Lefty honored in Seattle for work with sufferers of Crohn's disease and colitis", mlb.com, January 24, 2018. [1]
  • Joe Posnanski: "Diekman's story inspires beyond baseball: Rangers reliever achieves dreams despite battle with colitis", mlb.com, March 2, 2017. [2]
  • T.R. Sullivan: "Diekman honored for long road back: Reliever earns Richard Durrett Hardest Working Man Award after returning following three abdominal surgeries", 'mlb.com, January 19, 2018. [3]

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