Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee, and a Brief History of Midseason Pitcher Acquisitions
Roy Oswalt got roughed up in his first postseason game for the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, giving up three earned runs in just five innings in what would eventually become a Phillies' Game 2 victory. This was on the heels of Cliff Lee's first postseason appearance with the Texas Rangers, in which Lee went seven innings, allowing only one earned run with 10 strikeouts and no walks.
So will Oswalt or Lee guide their newly adopted teams to postseason glory? If past midseason pitcher acquisitions are any indication, the odds aren't good. Let's have a look.
10. Tom Seaver, 1977 Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds were seven games over .500 and seven games back in the NL East division when they traded for Tom Seaver in June of 1977.
Seaver was masterful for the Reds in '77, going 14-3 with a 2.34 ERA in 20 starts with the Reds, but it wasn't enough to put them in the playoffs; the Reds finished the season 88-74, 10 games back of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
9. Rick Sutcliffe, 1984 Chicago Cubs
Rick Sutcliffe went to the Chicago Cubs in 1984 and absolutely dominated, going 16-1 with a 2.69 ERA and 155 strikeouts in 150.1 innings pitched.
It was enough to win the Cy Young Award and help the Cubs win the NL East, but it wasn't enough to get them past the San Diego Padres and into the World Series.
8. Larry Anderson, 1990 Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox acquired Larry Anderson from the Houston Astros in 1990, and he went 0-0 with a save and a 1.23 ERA in 15 appearances. Even though the Red Sox got bounced from the playoffs in the first round, it was totally worth it.
All they had to give up to get him was a young prospect named Jeff Bagwell.
7. David Wells, 1995 Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds acquired David Wells, then of the Detroit Tigers, for the stretch run in the 1995 season. He went only 6-5 with a 3.59 ERA, but the Reds got to the playoffs nonetheless, sweeping the Dodgers 3-0 in the NLDS before being swept by the World Series-bound Atlanta Braves in the NLCS.
Wells was dominant in the first round, throwing 6.1 shutout innings in his only start, but he lost his only start against the Braves in the second round.
6. Curt Schilling, 2000 Arizona Diamondbacks
Remember that awesome 1999 Arizona Diamondbacks team that won 100 games? Remember the amazing Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson combination that won the 2001 World Series?
What we often lose sight of is that the Diamondbacks acquired Schilling in 2000, and ended up finishing in third place in the NL West. It wasn't until the year after they acquired Schilling that he propelled them into the World Series.
5. Randy Johnson, 1998 Houston Astros
The Astros got Randy Johnson from the Seattle Mariners for the stretch run in 1998, and he was unbelievable, going 10-1 with a 1.28 ERA and 116 strikeouts in only 84.1 innings. The Astros won 102 games and drew the 98-win San Diego Padres in the first round of the playoffs. They promptly lost three out of four and never saw Johnson ever again.
4. C.C. Sabathia, 2008 Milwaukee Brewers
C.C. Sabathia was so dominant for the Brewers after being traded from Cleveland that he led the NL in complete games and shutouts in only 17 starts.
Despite his 11-2 record and 1.65 ERA, C.C. and the Brewers were ceremoniously dispatched from the playoffs by the eventual world champion Philadelphia Phillies.
3. Cliff Lee, 2009 Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies, trying to repeat as World Series champions, brought in reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Cliff Lee, and he pitched great through the end of the season and into the playoffs.
Unfortunately, he was the only pitcher who showed up in the World Series for the Phils, and they lost the Series in six games to the New York Yankees.
Lee will try to repeat the feat in 2010 with the Texas Rangers.
2. Doyle Alexander, 1987 Detroit Tigers
Doyle Alexander went 9-0 with a 1.53 ERA in 11 starts after being traded by the Atlanta Braves to the Detroit Tigers. The Tigers won the AL East, but lost in the ALCS to the Minnesota Twins.
And to think, all they had to give up was young prospect John Smoltz.
1. David Cone, 1992 Toronto Blue Jays
Finally, a midseason pitcher acquisition who helped his team win a World Series.
David Cone was acquired from the New York Mets by the Toronto Blue Jays and pitched well enough to help the Blue Jays into the playoffs, and then to defeat the Atlanta Braves for Toronto's first World Series championship.
Cone went for it again when he was traded to the New York Yankees in 1995, but he would have to wait until 1996 to win the World Series again.