Beau Brieske has made four big-league starts and is still searching for his first victory.
But his 0-2 record doesn’t tell an accurate story of the Detroit Tigers’ young right-hander, who has looked ready for the majors in each of his four outings.
Brieske has a 3.86 ERA and 1.190 WHIP over 21 innings. He has lasted at least five innings every time and has yet to give up more than three runs.
“I will take him five or six innings every time,” Hinch said before his most recent start. “I like the way his games have gone despite the (early) damage. Like all young pitchers, you learn not to take a pitch off, every pitch matters.”
That means not falling behind in the first, a problem so far. Brieske has allowed nine earned runs, four in the first inning.
He gave up leadoff home runs to the Connor Joe and Mookie Betts in his first two starts, against the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Dodgers, respectively. Last week, he allowed Houston Astros leadoff hitter Jose Altuve to single, though he retired the next three batters. Then, on Thursday, he opened with a first-pitch single from Tony Kemp, then allowed three runs (two earned) on three singles, a walk and an error (letting a ground ball go between his legs).
“That’s never really been a problem for me, having the first guy reach like that, it’s usually just another inning,” Brieske said. “But I think (in the majors) I have more adrenaline than I’m used to, so I need to learn to deal with that and use it to my advantage, as opposed to letting the first guy get on every time.”
But he settled in against the Oakland Athletics, lasting six innings while giving up four hits three walks and two strikeouts for his first career quality start in a 5-3 loss to Oakland.
After throwing 35 pitches in the first, he needed just 58 pitches to go five more innings while retiring 11 of the last 12 batters he faced.
By the time he was done, Detroit was turning over a 3-3 tie to the bullpen that entered Thursday ranked third in MLB in ERA (2.71).
“I’m super proud of Beau, I think he pitched his ass off,” catcher Tucker Barnhart said. “I told him after his outing he pitched like an adult. Super impressive. He’s been faced with (early) adversity in most of his starts so far and found a way to give us a chance to win the game.
“It says a lot about a young guy when he takes one on the chin there early and he’s able to hold down the fort through the sixth inning.”
Brieske said he thinks he has improved as the game goes on because he gets a better feel for his mechanics and his pitches.
That’s rare for a young pitcher, especially a a 2019 27th-round draft pick (No. 802 overall).
He said to be in the majors and receiving praise less than three years later is everything he’d hoped to do.
“It gives you a lot of confidence with a guy like Tucker in your corner” he said. “He’s pushing me, he wants the best for me and he knows I still haven’t thrown my game yet.
“I still haven’t been who I truly believe I can be.”
Contact Tony Garcia at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on twitter at @realtonygarcia.