Chris Withrow has been one of the most effective relievers in baseball in the early going. His 0.57 ERA places him just outside the top five arms in the game. The way he's done that isn't a surprise to anyone that's been following Withrow's career, he's striking out more hitters than almost anyone else in baseball.
Withrow's strike out rate is very pretty, but it comes at a cost. Withrow punched his ticket to the show in 2013 because he showed vastly improved command of a fastball previously described as "Rick Vaughn-esque"1.
Unfortunately Withrow has regressed into his same habits this year, and then some. Withrow is walking hitters at a much higher rate than even the second most wild pitcher in the National League this year.
There is a very small history of pitchers that have walked 20 percent of the hitters they face over even half a season, and you can count the guys you'd actually want on your team on one hand. While none of them have a strikeout rate that approaches Withrow's, it's still impressive that he's kept his ERA below one.
When you put it all together, more Withrow at bats end in the catchers mitt than almost any other pitcher, and he would easily be the best if Craig Kimbrel wasn't superhuman.
All of these facets of Withrow's game are not going to hold up. Either his walk rate is going to sink to something we can call "below average", his ERA is going to shoot through the roof since he isn't going to keep a .111 BABIP going and he's going to start paying for these walks, or some combination of them meeting in the middle. Just like the hitters that face Withrow, we have no idea where this one is going.
1. If we're taking suggestions for a nickname I vote "Terminator"↩