2013 Knights Pitcher of the Year

27 different pitchers took the mound for the Charlotte Knights in 2013.

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Two pitchers made just one appearance each (Michael Nix and Spencer Arroyo), while two pitchers cracked the Knights Top 10 in games started for a single season (Zach Stewart and Jason Berken).

Stewart, who was marvelous on the final day of the season (eight shutout innings), finished the year with 14 losses — tying Arnie Munoz for second all-time on the Knights single-season losses list. His final performance on the final day of the regular season — at the final game in Knights Stadium history — was one of the finest pitching performances of the season by a Knights pitcher.

Knights fans also got a glimpse at Erik Johnson, who was promoted to Charlotte from Double-A Birmingham and posted a 4-1 record with a 1.57 ERA in 10 starts. Johnson has since become a member of the Chicago White Sox.

11 of Charlotte’s pitchers were promoted to Chicago — including Jake Petricka, who went 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA in 10 games with the Knights.

White Sox starter John Danks made three starts for the Knights in 2013 — including a a May 12 start at Knights Stadium against the Pawtucket Red Sox. On that date, with his brother Jordan in the lineup, John allowed three runs (two earned) over six innings en route to a victory.

The finest pitching performance of the season was turned in by Andre Rienzo — who is the 2013 Charlotte Knights Pitcher of the Year. Rienzo got off to a rough start to the 2013 season — but he quickly became the staff’s ace.

Rienzo started his first game of the season on April 6 in Gwinnett. On that date, Rienzo allowed five runs (six earned) on six hits over five innings. He was saddled with his first Triple-A loss in what just his second career Triple-A start.

In his next outing, Rienzo allowed seven runs on eight hits over 5.1 innings at Knights Stadium on April 11 — Opening Day. He would get better however in his next start and show just what he was capable of doing on the mound.

On April 16 at Knights Stadium, Rienzo allowed one run on six hits over six innings en route to his first career Triple-A win. It was the first of eight wins for Rienzo in 20 starts for the Knights in 2013.

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While Rienzo struggled a bit over his next few outings, he showed progress. He went from a 1-2 mark with a 7.71 ERA in April (five games) to a 3-1 mark with a 5.74 ERA in May (six games). Then, he took off.

In June, Rienzo posted a 1-3 mark with an impressive 2.30 ERA in five starts. He struck-out 39 batters over 31.1 innings pitched and tossed a six-inning complete game on June 11 at Lehigh Valley.

July was his best month of the season — and it was a month for the ages! In four starts that month, Rienzo went 3-0 with a 1.23 ERA. He tossed two complete games, along with one shutout.

On Thursday, July 25, the Brazilian-born right-hander tossed a seven-inning no-hitter in a 1-0 win over the Indianapolis Indians at Knights Stadium. The moment was ranked as the ninth-best moment in the 24-year-old history of Knights Stadium.  The 25-year-old threw 112 pitches — 69 for strikes, while fanning 11 batters. He also  walked four batters.

Just five days after his no-no, Rienzo was promoted to the Chicago White Sox (July 30). At the time of his promotion, he was leading the International League in strikeouts (113). Also at the time, he was tied for the league lead in complete games (three) and he ranked second in shutouts (1).

Overall with the Knights, Rienzo went 8-6 with a 4.06 ERA in 20 starts. His three complete games finished in a tie for first place in the IL with Vance Worley, Andrew Albers, Greg Reynolds, and Steve Wright. He struck-out 113 batters over 113.0 innings.

Now, as a member of the White Sox, Rienzo has come a long way from his days as a youngster in Brazil. He made Major League history on July 30 by becoming the first-ever Brazilian-born pitcher in the Majors. He continued to make Major League history by earning his first win on August 21 in Kansas City.

It has been an impressive journey for Rienzo in 2013. It all began as a member of Team Brazil for the World Baseball Classic. It continued as a member of the Charlotte Knights — and it brought him all the way to Chicago with the White Sox.

For his solid efforts with the Knights in 2013, Andre Rienzo is the 2013 Knights Pitcher of the Year.

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