Friday, October 29, 2010

One Hit Wonder: Pete Schourek

It's amazing how much mileage MLB teams get out of lefthanded pitching. Take somebody like Pete Schourek, for example. He did very little to distinguish himself during his career, ending up a career 11 games under 0.500 with an ERA in the mid-4.00s. And yet he still lasted 11 seasons and made $14,000,000. It's bothersome.

To his credit, Schourek did have a single season of note, in the strike-shortened 1995 campaign for the Cincinatti Reds. Schourek quietly let the Reds to the second best record in the National League and a first round dismantling of the Los Angeles Dodgers. In the context of the extremely offensives Nineties, one could argue that Schourek's 1995 campaign was one of the finer seasons for a lefthanded starter of the decade: 18 wins, a 1.067 WHIP, a 3.5:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He was durable, versatile and positively on point the entire season.

Then he fell apart, a combination of injuries and reality. He won a mere 25 games the rest of his careers, with only the Red Sox seeming fit to keep him around for more than a season. Schourek actually started the fourth and deciding game of the 1998 ALDS against Cleveland, pitching a solid 5.1 scoreless inning before the game was blown in the 8th during an ill-fated Tom Gordon/Dave Justice showdown that tipped to the Tribe.

It was a nice swan song for the lanky lefthander, who muddled his way through a few more seasons before getting dumped by the Sox in late summer 2001. On talent alone, Schourek easily could've had a John Smiley-esque career but if nothing else, his breakout 1995 cemented him as a footnote instead of an afterthought.

BTW that 1998 Red Sox squad featured one of the more star-studded pitching staffs of the Nineties and yet it was a pretty pedestrian group overall. These seven pitchers combined for 25 All-Star Games (appearances in brackets) and yet half of these fellas were out of MLB within a year or two...
Bret Saberhagen (3)
Dennis Eckersley (6)
Derek Lowe (2)
Greg Swindell (1)
Pedro Martinez (8)
Steve Avery (1)
Tim Wakefield (1)
Tom Gordon (3)

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