Right-handed starter James Allen spent his 2013 campaign in Bakersfield. He struggled early and often last season, even by California League standards.
Allen got his season started on April 7th with a 4.2 inning performance that ended in a loss. He gave up 10 earned runs on 9 hits, 5 home runs, 2 walks, and stuck out only one Stockton batter. Stockton continued to hit Allen on his next start on the 12th. He went the same distance but surrendered 3 earned runs, 5 hits, and handed out 2 strikeouts. On the 17th against Inland Empire, he got his first win of the season on a 6.2 inning shutout. A positive outing was followed up by two lesser showings. The 23th saw him toss 5.1 innings against High Desert but give up 4 runs with 2 being earned from 7 hits, a walk, and a strikeout. Visalia would accumulate the same number of hits on the 28th but scored 3 earned runs while walking 4 times and striking out 3 times. April did not go as Allen had planned. He threw 26 innings for a 1-2 record and had a 6.23 ERA and 1.54 WHIP. His walks were held to just 7 but he struck out the same amount of home runs he allowed with 8 each.
May would turn out to be Allen’s best month of the season. The month did, however, start with two losses. On the 3rd, Modesto managed 6 runs in 5.1 innings but only 2 were earned. Then, San Jose faced Allen for 5 innings and scored twice while managing to walk 4 times and strikeout the same. On the 10th, Modesto matched up with Allen for the second time in 10 days. This time Allen got the win in a 6.2 outing where he gave up 2 runs on 5 hits, walked just one, and struck out 5 batters. While he did not get the win on the 18th, he was solid in 6.1 innings opposing Stockton. Stockton was able to total just one run off of 3 hits, 3 walks, and 4 strikeouts. They would face off again on the 24th for 5 innings. Allen was hit 4 times which led to 3 runs. He once again walked 3 and struck out 4. The month ended with a win against San Jose on the 29th. He worked 6.1 innings and surrendered 2 runs on as many hits and walks with 5 strikeouts. All in all, Allen went 2-3 in 34.2 innings of work. He produced a 3.12 ERA and 1.04 WHIP plus struck out 25 and walked 14.
June started off with a bang. On the 4th, Allen threw his best game of the season in an outing at High Desert. He was able to go 8 innings and give up just 2 hits in a shutout with 2 walks and 3 strikeouts. Allen would give up at least 2 earned runs in each start the rest of the month. Lake Elsinore saw Allen for 5 innings on the 9th. They would score 4 times, 3 were earned, total 6 hits, 3 walks and only one strikeout. Allen extended his start on the 14th to 7 innings. He got the win against Modesto after allowing just 2 earned runs, 5 hits, 2 walks, and issuing 4 strikeouts. The final two starts of the month were both 5-inning outings that saw Allen give up 3 earned runs each. On the 22nd, High Desert totaled 4 runs and 5 hits. Then, Visalia scored 3 times with 7 hits on the 27th. While going 2-0 for the month, Allen had a 3.30 ERA and 1.20 WHIP in 30 innings. His strikeout to walk ratio was unsatisfactory at 13 to 11.
After two solid months, Allen seemed to be gasping for air the rest of the season. He did garner a decision in every start in July. On the 2nd, Lancaster was able to force Allen out of the game after just one inning of work. He handed over 6 earned runs on just 5 hits with 2 walks and one strikeout. Only modestly better, he went 4.1 innings against Modesto five days later. He permitted 4 runs on 4 hits, a walk, and 3 strikeouts. The 12th noted one of Allen’s better games. He shut out Lake Elsinore for 6.2 innings and granted 3 hits and a walk while striking out 6. That glimmer of light was followed by only 2 innings of work against Visalia. He offered up 2 walks and 8 hits that led to 6 earned runs. At Modesto on the the 23rd, he was able to go 6 frames and only conceded one earned run. However, Modesto totaled 3 runs in Allen’s 4th loss of the month. He was able to close the month with a win at Lake Elsinore where he threw 5.1 innings. He relinquished only one run from 7 hits and 2 walks plus he punched out 7 batters. After 25.1 innings that led to a 2-4 month, he ballooned his ERA to 6.39 and WHIP to 1.62. He amassed 22 strikeouts and 11 walks in July.
A forgettable August would bring a close to a forgettable season. While he did get a win, the 3rd against San Jose saw the Giants score 4 times in 5 innings of work from Allen. At Stockton, he was punished in 3.1 long innings. He handed over 7 earned runs, 9 total, on 6 hits and 4 walk on the 8th. His next 3 starts all lasted 5 innings. On the 13th, Visalia scored only twice while being walked 6 times and getting 3 hits. Then, on the 18th, in a loss at Modesto he permitted 3 earned runs. In a 7-hit showing, San Jose scored 3 times, 2 of the runs were earned, and walked twice without striking out. On the 29th, he went 6 innings against Stockton and got the win in a one-run, one-hit outing. August lasted 29.1 innings and had an even 2-2 record. Allen limped to a 5.83 ERA and 1.57 WHIP. To cap it off, he ended with a 17 to 17 strikeout to walk ratio.
James Allen had some struggles in 2013 with his control and his home run rate, though the latter may be the California League rearing its ugly head. Allen spent the entire season pitching out of the rotation, the first time in his career he had spent even a majority of a season in the rotation. While he showed good ERA’s in both May and June, he battled his control throughout the season, only posting a strikeout-to-walk ratio above 1.80 in one month during the season. A move back to the bullpen where he has had success in the past could be a likely move for the 2014 season.