August 28 – Happy Birthday Jay Witasick
The great Yankee bullpen of the late 1990’s had been disrupted by the departure of right-hander Jeff Nelson after the 2000 season. Brian Cashman had spent the first three weeks of June in 2001 trying to put the finishing touches on a trade with the Expos for Ugueth Urbina but the deal fell apart at the last second.
I remember salivating over the possible addition of Ugie when rumors of the proposed deal became public. Naturally, I was disappointed when my favorite team ended up with Jay Witasick in their bullpen instead.
At the time of his acquisition, Witasick had already been pitching in the big leagues for five seasons with three different teams. He also had never posted an ERA below 5.64 in any of them. But then suddenly, during the first half of the 2001 season, he was getting everybody out for the San Diego Padres. His fastball was suddenly faster, his control sharper and his ERA was a microscopic 1.86. Cashman was willing to ignore Witasick’s half decade of big league history and sent Yankee infield prospect D’Angelo Jimenez to San Diego in exchange for the six-foot-four-inch, right-handed native of Baltimore.
The newest Yankee then got shelled in his first appearance against Baltimore but settled down and pitched decent ball for New York through August. Then he got hot during the final month of the 2001 season, turning in ten consecutive appearances without surrendering an earned run, earning him a spot on Joe Torre’s postseason roster. That proved to be a bad decision.
He did not pitch well in his only ALDS appearance against Seattle. He pitched even worse in his only ALCS appearance against the Angels and then turned in one of the worst World Series pitching performances in the history of the Yankee franchise.
After Andy Pettitte gave up four runs during the first two innings of Game Six against Arizona, Torre replaced him with Witasick in the top of the third with two Diamondbacks on base. Witasick permitted those two runners to score and then proceeded to give up nine more runs of his own, making his World Series ERA 54.00. You know what’s even more remarkable? Naturally, George Steinbrenner had this guy jettisoned from New York after that Series and he ended up back in the World Series the very next season with San Francisco. How did he do? In two appearances for the Giants in that Fall Classic, he retired just one batter and posted a second consecutive World Series ERA of 54.00.
Witasick shares his birthday with this Yankee second baseman from the 1920’s, this former Cy Young Award winner, this outfielder known for his sweet swing and this one-time Yankee pitcher who also gave up Bucky Dent’s home run.
|OAK (6 yrs)||5||5||.500||5.26||91||3||25||0||0||1||116.1||127||78||68||22||73||115||1.719|
|SDP (4 yrs)||11||12||.478||3.96||132||11||43||0||0||4||206.2||199||108||91||26||101||206||1.452|
|KCR (2 yrs)||12||20||.375||5.71||54||42||4||3||1||0||247.2||300||173||157||38||121||169||1.700|
|TBD (1 yr)||0||0||6.61||20||0||5||0||0||0||16.1||17||13||12||1||18||8||2.143|
|COL (1 yr)||0||4||.000||2.52||32||0||7||0||0||0||35.2||27||11||10||2||12||40||1.093|
|SFG (1 yr)||1||0||1.000||2.37||44||0||9||0||0||0||68.1||58||19||18||3||21||54||1.156|
|NYY (1 yr)||3||0||1.000||4.69||32||0||8||0||0||0||40.1||47||27||21||5||18||53||1.612|