LHP Zach Muckenhirn Off to Solid Start on the Mound for Delmarva Shorebirds

By Contributing Writer: Nick Stevens

Down in the South Atlantic League, the Delmarva Shorebirds are off to a 2-5 start to the 2017 season. While the bats are slowly starting to warm up, the front end of the Delmarva pitching staff is off to a hot start. Lucas Humpal is dominating South Atlantic League hitters with his 0.75 ERA and 0.67 WHIP to go along with 10 strikeouts and just one walk. Last year’s 11th round pick out of North Dakota, Zach Muckenhirn, is off to an equally impressive start.

LHP Zach Muckenhirn with Aberdeen in 2016
Photo: Patrick Cavey

In two starts, Muckenhirn is 1-1 with a 0.84 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP. He has recorded 14 strikeouts (4th in the SAL) and has yet to walk a single batter in 10.2 innings of work.
Zach’s first start of the season came April 7th in Greenville against the Drive (Boston affiliate). I watched his outing and walked away highly impressed. This was the 22-year-old’s first start after being promoted from Aberdeen, where he spent all of 2016 pitching for the Ironbirds. Muckenhirn works fast, which appeared to keep the Drive hitters off balance on a few occasions. He went 4.2 innings, gave up seven hits, three runs (0 earned), no walks and six strikeouts.

Muckenhirn needed 80 pitches to get through his outing which was hurt by Irving Ortega, the Shorebirds short stop. Ortega committed his second error of the game in the fifth inning, leading  to the Drive adding three unearned runs and giving Muckenhirn the loss in the decision. When Zach was on target, he was able to get Drive batters fishing and kept the ball on the ground. Muckenhirn’s biggest struggle seemed to come when he tried to work the inner half of the plate, where he missed often and left a few fastballs up in the zone for Drive batters to feast on.
Zach followed up his April 7th outing with an even better performance on April 12th against the Greensboro Grasshoppers (Marlins). Zach went six innings, gave up just four hits, one earned run, walked none and recorded eight strikeouts while becoming the winning pitcher.

The left-handed pitcher has dominated left-handed hitters in his first two starts, allowing a minuscule .154 batting average. Muckenhirn has remained perfect against lead off hitters, refusing to allow a single lead off hitter on base while striking out six.

Zach’s next start should come against Greensboro again next Monday in Delmarva. Monday nights at Perdue Stadium are $2 upper reserve ticket nights, $2 hot dogs, and $2 Pepsi product nights. I can’t think of any better (or cheaper) way to spend an evening!

Let’s talk Orioles minor league baseball! You can reach me on Twitter,  @CoachNick_14


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