January 12 – Happy Birthday Luis Ayala

ayalaA native of Los Mochis, Mexico, right-hander Luis Ayala made quite a splash as a big league rookie in 2003. He appeared in 65 games that year out of manager Frank Robinson’s Montreal Expo bullpen and posted a 2.92 ERA, while winning ten of thirteen decisions and getting five saves. He proved he was no fluke in his sophomore season, appearing in 81 games and posting a 2.69 ERA. He was well on his way to becoming one of MLB’s best middle relievers when he blew out his elbow pitching for Mexico in the 2006 World Baseball Championship.

He underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire ’06 season. He did OK during his first season back from the injury but it went downhill fast from there. During the next two seasons he pitched for four different clubs and his ERA skyrocketed to almost six runs for every nine innings he pitched.

Things looked bleak for Alaya after the Marlins released him in ’09 and he spent the entire 2010 season back in the minors. The following February, the Yankees signed him to a minor league contract. Though New York’s bullpen appeared to be loaded with middle and late inning relievers, Ayala pitched well enough in spring training to make the team’s Opening Day roster. He then got hit hard in his first Yankee appearance and after two decent outings, landed on the DL with a strained muscle in his back.

After a short rehab tour at Scranton/Wilkes Barre, Ayala returned to New York’s bullpen and for the rest of the year, he was one of Joe Girardi’s best and most trusted middle relievers, coming up especially big when injuries shelved both Joba Chamberlain and Rafael Soriano. He ended the regular season with 52 appearances and an excellent ERA of 2.09.

His ERA would have been even lower, but in his last regular season appearance, Tampa got three earned runs off of him. He then didn’t look sharp in either of his two appearances against the Tigers in that year’s ALDS. It could very well have been those last three consecutive sub par outings that caused the Yankee front office to let Ayala sign with the Orioles instead of bringing him back for another season in the Bronx. I remember being surprised they let him go. He put together a good season for the O’s in 2012 and then did the same for Atlanta in 2013, after Baltimore traded him to the Braves early in the season.

Ayala shares his birthday with this former Yankee number 1 draft choice,  this current Yankee starting pitcher and this one-time second baseman.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2011 NYY 2 2 .500 2.09 52 0 20 0 0 0 56.0 51 17 13 5 20 39 1.268
9 Yrs 38 47 .447 3.34 534 0 161 0 0 19 554.1 581 233 206 54 139 367 1.299
WSN (5 yrs) 27 32 .458 3.33 320 0 93 0 0 9 332.1 338 137 123 32 76 213 1.246
BAL (2 yrs) 6 5 .545 2.81 68 0 15 0 0 1 77.0 85 29 24 8 14 53 1.286
MIN (1 yr) 1 2 .333 4.18 28 0 11 0 0 0 32.1 38 18 15 4 8 21 1.423
NYM (1 yr) 1 2 .333 5.50 19 0 13 0 0 9 18.0 23 12 11 3 2 14 1.389
ATL (1 yr) 1 1 .500 2.90 37 0 7 0 0 0 31.0 34 10 10 1 13 20 1.516
NYY (1 yr) 2 2 .500 2.09 52 0 20 0 0 0 56.0 51 17 13 5 20 39 1.268
FLA (1 yr) 0 3 .000 11.74 10 0 2 0 0 0 7.2 12 10 10 1 6 7 2.348
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/11/2014.

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