Results tagged ‘ relief pitcher ’

June 25 – Happy Birthday Bob Shirley

Most Yankee fans around my age can clearly remember the famous shower-room scuffle between Goose Gossage and Cliff Johnson in 1979 but how many of you can recall a similar incident between Don Mattingly and today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant that took place eight years later, during the 1987 season? At the time, the southpaw Shirley was in his fifth year as a Yankee pitcher. He had been signed by New York as a free agent after the 1982 season and went 5-8 as a member of Billy Martin’s starting rotation in ’83. After that inauspicious beginning, he was demoted to the bullpen and became the Yankees’ primary left-handed long reliever. He thrived in that role for the next two seasons and had his best year in pinstripes in ’85 when he appeared in 48 games and posted a career-low ERA of 2.64. He then had a horrible year in 1986, going 0-4 with an ERA that exploded to over five runs for every nine innings he pitched. So Shirley was already on pretty thin ice when according to published reports in June of 1987, he and Donnie Baseball engaged in a playful wrestling match in the visitors’ locker room of Milwaukee’s County Stadium, where the Yankees were playing a series against the Brewers. Mattingly ended up on the DL with two ruptured discs in his back. Though both players and their teammates denied the wrestling had taken place, George Steinbrenner was reportedly livid and ordered that Shirley be released the next day. Mattingly continued to insist that his former teammate was not the cause of his injury, explaining to reporters that Shirley was now looking for a job and he did not want other teams to think that the pitcher was some kind of locker room trouble maker.

Mattingly’s chronic back trouble would of course end up stunting the glorious start he had put together as a Yankee. Shirley would sign on with the Royals one week after being let go but pitched horribly during his only three appearances with Kansas City and was quickly released. He never again pitched in a big league game. He finished his 165-game Yankee career with a 14-20 record, 5 saves and a 4.05 ERA. Lifetime, he was 67-94 during his 11 big league seasons with 18 saves and a 3.82 ERA. Shirley shares his June 25th birthday with this former Yankee catcher. Besides George “Babe” Ruth and Shirley, can you think of any other Yankees who have a girl’s first name as their surname?

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1983 NYY 5 8 .385 5.08 25 17 3 1 1 0 108.0 122 71 61 10 36 53 1.463
1984 NYY 3 3 .500 3.38 41 7 11 1 0 0 114.1 119 47 43 8 38 48 1.373
1985 NYY 5 5 .500 2.64 48 8 9 2 0 2 109.0 103 34 32 5 26 55 1.183
1986 NYY 0 4 .000 5.04 39 6 9 0 0 3 105.1 108 60 59 13 40 64 1.405
1987 NYY 1 0 1.000 4.50 12 1 6 0 0 0 34.0 36 20 17 4 16 12 1.529
11 Yrs 67 94 .416 3.82 434 162 105 16 2 18 1432.0 1432 689 608 127 543 790 1.379
NYY (5 yrs) 14 20 .412 4.05 165 39 38 4 1 5 470.2 488 232 212 40 156 232 1.368
SDP (4 yrs) 39 57 .406 3.58 197 92 55 10 1 12 722.0 718 329 287 59 274 432 1.374
KCR (1 yr) 0 0 14.73 3 0 1 0 0 0 7.1 10 12 12 5 6 1 2.182
STL (1 yr) 6 4 .600 4.08 28 11 5 1 0 1 79.1 78 42 36 6 34 36 1.412
CIN (1 yr) 8 13 .381 3.60 41 20 6 1 0 0 152.2 138 74 61 17 73 89 1.382
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/25/2013.

June 22 – Happy Birthday Jim Bronstad

This 6’3″ right-hander made his big league debut in 1959, as a member of the Yankee bullpen. He lost all three of his decisions but picked up two saves in his 16 appearances that season. He was sent back down to the minors in July of that season and the next time he pitched in the Majors was as a member of the Senators’ 1963 staff.

As I researched Bronstad’s career, I came across newspaper articles from the winter and spring of 1960 that talked about how the Yankees were really expecting this guy to make their big league roster that season. Then I came across a list of Yankee “prospects” who had been invited to the team’s 1960 spring training camp.The pitchers on that list were Bronstad, Bill Bethell, Tom Burrell, Frank Carpin, Ed Dick, Mark Freeman, John Gabler, George Haney, Johnny James, Billy Short, Bill Stafford, Hal Stowe and Don Thompson. Fritz Brickell was the only infield prospect invited to that camp and there were two catchers brought in by the names of Dan Bishop and Joe Miller. The outfielder invitees were Kent Hunt, Deron Johnson, Don Lock, Jack Reed and Roy Thomas. Of these 21 youngsters, only Stafford would end up making what I considered to be a significant contribution to the parent club during their subsequent careers. Deron Johnson and Don Lock would both become solid big leaguers with other organizations and Ken Hunt would have a couple of decent seasons as a member of the Angels. Remember, this was back in 1960, when Major League Baseball had just 16 teams so it was even tougher for a prospect to earn a roster spot with their parent club than it is today. Coincidentally, I was researching this information about the Yankees’ 1960 prospects last evening as I watched one of their 2013 prospects, outfielder Zoilio Almonte, hit his first big league home run against Tampa Bay. The odds are so stacked against these young kids, it truly has been and always will be a huge accomplishment for a young kid to become a star with the same big league organization that signs him.

Bronstad was born in Ft. Worth, TX. Just like “All my Ex’s” there have been some famous Yankees who have lived in Texas. There have not, however been many great Bronx Bombers who were born in the Lone Star State. Mickey Mantle moved his family to Dallas during his playing days. Roger Clemens was born in Ohio but moved to Texas when he was in high school. Andy Pettitte moved there from Louisiana. The honor of being the best-ever Texas-born Yankee is probably currently between Don Baylor, Chuck Knoblaugh and pitcher Ron Davis. Davis, in fact, is the only native born Texan to make an All Star team while wearing the Yankee uniform.

Jim Bronstad’s Yankee and career stats:

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1959 NYY 0 3 .000 5.22 16 3 8 0 0 2 29.1 34 19 17 2 13 14 1.602
3 Yrs 1 7 .125 5.48 45 3 20 0 0 3 93.2 110 61 57 11 37 45 1.569
WSA (2 yrs) 1 4 .200 5.60 29 0 12 0 0 1 64.1 76 42 40 9 24 31 1.554
NYY (1 yr) 0 3 .000 5.22 16 3 8 0 0 2 29.1 34 19 17 2 13 14 1.602
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/22/2013.

June 18 – Happy Birthday Felix Heredia

The only member of the Yankee all-time player roster to be born on June 18 (1975) is their former reliever, Felix Heredia. The Yankees claimed the southpaw  off waivers during the 2003 season and he pitched real well out of  their bullpen for the remainder of that year, making 12 appearances during which he allowed just two earned runs in fifteen total innings. That effort represented an ERA of just 1.20 prompting New York to sign him to a new two-year contract. But during his second season in pinstripes, Heredia struggled with control problems and his Yankee ERA ballooned by over five times causing Joe Torre to eventually lose faith in him. The Yankees traded him to the Mets after the 2005 season in a deal that returned Mike Stanton to the Yankee bullpen. Heredia retired after the 2005 season with a 28-19 record for his ten years in the big leagues and 6 career saves. During that decade he pitched for six other teams in addition to the Yankees.

The only other member of the Yankee baseball family to be born on this same date is this announcer, who’s most famous call had nothing to do with Yankee baseball.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2003 NYY 0 1 .000 1.20 12 0 4 0 0 0 15.0 13 5 2 1 5 4 1.200
2004 NYY 1 1 .500 6.28 47 0 9 0 0 0 38.2 44 28 27 5 20 25 1.655
10 Yrs 28 19 .596 4.42 511 2 128 0 0 6 458.1 448 259 225 45 232 351 1.484
CHC (4 yrs) 15 6 .714 5.01 221 0 54 0 0 3 163.1 166 102 91 20 80 146 1.506
FLA (3 yrs) 6 7 .462 4.72 118 2 27 0 0 2 114.1 112 68 60 5 72 102 1.609
NYY (2 yrs) 1 2 .333 4.86 59 0 13 0 0 0 53.2 57 33 29 6 25 29 1.528
NYM (1 yr) 0 0 0.00 3 0 1 0 0 0 2.2 1 0 0 0 1 2 0.750
CIN (1 yr) 5 2 .714 3.00 57 0 18 0 0 1 72.0 61 27 24 9 28 41 1.236
TOR (1 yr) 1 2 .333 3.61 53 0 15 0 0 0 52.1 51 29 21 5 26 31 1.471
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/18/2013.

June 2 – Happy Birthday Mike Stanton

stantonMike Stanton was a key cog in a great Yankee bullpen that helped the team win three straight World Championships, beginning in1998. A left-hander, this native of Houston, Texas didn’t begin pitching until he got to college but mastered the art quick enough to get selected in the 13th round of the 1987 MLB amateur draft by the Atlanta Braves. He made his big league debut with the Braves two years later and impressed the organization by saving 7 ball games, compiling a 1.50 ERA and striking out more than a hitter an inning during his 20-game first-ever trial.

Stanton spent six-plus seasons in Atlanta, including 1993, when he became the team’s closer and saved a career high 27 games. He lost the closer’s job to Greg McMichael the following year and was traded to the Red Sox at the mid-season trading deadline in 1995.

The Yankees signed him as a free agent following the 1996 season and for the next half-dozen years, he was Joe Torre’s first southpaw choice out of the bullpen. He had a good, moving fastball and when his slider and curveball were working, this guy was simply nasty, especially on left-handed hitters. I loved his toughness and no-nonsense demeanor on the mound. He was the type of pitcher who believed he could get any hitter out in any situation. Though you couldn’t prove it by his rather high ERA while in pinstripes, Stanton got lots of key outs during that unforgettable string of three straight Yankee championships.

His best season in the Bronx was probably his first. In 1997, he appeared in 64 games and went 6-1 with a sparkling 2.57 ERA. Though the Yankees didn’t make it to the Fall Classic that year, they did formulate one of the franchise’s all-time great relief corps by putting Mariano Rivera in the closer role and teaming Stanton with Ramiro Mendoza, Jeff Nelson, and Graeme Lloyd as his set-up men. For the next three years, a Yankee lead in the sixth inning was safer than the gold in Fort Knox.

Though he went 7-1 during the final season of his contract with the Yanks in 2002, he had turned 35 and when Brian Cashman didn’t go after him hard, Stanton ended up signing with the Mets. Two years later, he returned to the Yankees in a trade but the magic was gone. When he retired after the 2007 season he held the record for most “Holds” by a big league reliever.

Stanton shares his birthday with this former Yankee SS/Mgr/GM,  this postseason hero from 2012 and  this former Yankee second baseman.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1997 NYY 6 1 .857 2.57 64 0 15 0 0 3 66.2 50 19 19 3 34 70 1.260
1998 NYY 4 1 .800 5.47 67 0 26 0 0 6 79.0 71 51 48 13 26 69 1.228
1999 NYY 2 2 .500 4.33 73 1 10 0 0 0 62.1 71 30 30 5 18 59 1.428
2000 NYY 2 3 .400 4.10 69 0 20 0 0 0 68.0 68 32 31 5 24 75 1.353
2001 ★ NYY 9 4 .692 2.58 76 0 16 0 0 0 80.1 80 25 23 4 29 78 1.357
2002 NYY 7 1 .875 3.00 79 0 25 0 0 6 78.0 73 29 26 4 28 44 1.295
2005 NYY 1 2 .333 7.07 28 0 6 0 0 0 14.0 17 11 11 1 6 12 1.643
19 Yrs 68 63 .519 3.92 1178 1 363 0 0 84 1114.0 1086 523 485 93 420 895 1.352
ATL (7 yrs) 18 21 .462 4.01 304 0 123 0 0 55 289.2 277 146 129 22 114 223 1.350
NYY (7 yrs) 31 14 .689 3.77 456 1 118 0 0 15 448.1 430 197 188 35 165 407 1.327
BOS (3 yrs) 5 3 .625 3.56 82 0 31 0 0 1 78.1 76 33 31 12 31 57 1.366
NYM (2 yrs) 4 13 .235 3.68 133 0 43 0 0 5 122.1 107 57 50 12 52 92 1.300
WSN (2 yrs) 5 6 .455 4.13 86 0 13 0 0 0 72.0 78 35 33 3 30 44 1.500
SFG (1 yr) 4 2 .667 3.09 26 0 15 0 0 8 23.1 23 8 8 1 6 18 1.243
TEX (1 yr) 0 1 .000 3.22 22 0 9 0 0 0 22.1 20 8 8 2 4 14 1.075
CIN (1 yr) 1 3 .250 5.93 69 0 11 0 0 0 57.2 75 39 38 6 18 40 1.613
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/16/2014.

May 28 – Happy Birthday Cory Wade

One of the true bright spots of the Yankees 2012 season was the performance of their bullpen. If someone told you at the beginning of that year’s spring training camp that Mariano Rivera, Joba Chamberlain and David Robertson would all be on the DL at the same time but their absence would have little negative impact on the quality of New York’s relief pitching, you’d call that person crazy. But that’s exactly what happened. Raffie Soriano, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada and Cody Eppley all stepped up big time and got a huge early-season assist from today’s Pinstripe Birthday Celebrant.

Through the middle of June Cory Wade appeared in 27 games for New York that season and pitched 27 innings. He has struck out 30 hitters, walked just 5 and allowed only 8e earned runs for an ERA of 2.63. He wasn’t really a flash in the pan for New York either. In 2011, this right-handed native of Indianapolis appeared in 40 games for the Yankees, went 6-1 with an ERA of just 2.04.

Unfortunately for Wade and the 2012 Yankees, his pitching fell apart during the second half of June. When he gave up a total 10 earned runs in his final two appearances that month, New York skipper Joe Girardi lost confidence in the pitcher and he was demoted to Scranton.

Wade came up to the big leagues with the Dodgers in 2008 and pitched well for Manager Joe Torre. He then injured his shoulder in 2009 and required surgery. The Dodgers released him and he signed with Tampa but never pitched an inning for the Rays. The Yankees signed him in June of 2011 and with his arm completely healed, Wade’s been pitching well ever since. He’s not a hard thrower. His fastball tops out at about 90 miles per hour but he has very good command of four different pitches and has been mixing speeds masterfully since he donned the pinstripes. Let’s hope it continues.

Wade was called back up by New York for the 2012 stretch run and pitched OK but not great. He was then left off the Yankees’ postseason roster and put on waivers that October. He’s now pitching in the Royals’ minor league system.

Wade shares his May 28th birthday with another very effective Yankee relief pitcher from the 1950s. 

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
2011 NYY 6 1 .857 2.04 40 0 8 0 0 0 39.2 33 10 9 5 8 30 1.034
2012 NYY 1 1 .500 6.46 39 0 7 0 0 0 39.0 46 29 28 8 8 38 1.385
4 Yrs 11 6 .647 3.65 161 0 38 0 0 0 177.2 158 78 72 23 41 137 1.120
LAD (2 yrs) 4 4 .500 3.18 82 0 23 0 0 0 99.0 79 39 35 10 25 69 1.051
NYY (2 yrs) 7 2 .778 4.23 79 0 15 0 0 0 78.2 79 39 37 13 16 68 1.208
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/28/2013.