Will Startup, relief pitcher
Is he this decade’s Chad Bradford?
Apparently. Bradford, of course, was one of the heroes of Moneyball, who according to the legend was an extremely effective minor-league pitcher who was denied his chance to pitch in the major leagues because he didn’t have a fastball and relied on a funky delivery. (The legend isn’t completely true, as the White Sox did give Bradford nearly fifty major-league innings over three seasons and he was effective and the A’s did have to trade Miguel Olivo to get him; Olivo is still active and has nearly 1000 major-league games to his credit. And, while Bradford was effective in his role, the evidence indicates that his role was limited; like most sidearmers, he’s vulnerable to opposite-hand hitters.) Startup is a left-handed pitcher without much of a fastball who has a funky leg kick. You have to see it to believe it; picture a man trying to kick off his shoe back over his head into the closet.
Startup has been effective in his minor-league career. He was drafted by the Braves at age 20 and was immediately assigned to Rome in the full-season South Atlantic league. Most players are assigned to short-season clubs immediately after signing. Startup was effective there, and in the following season pitched effectively in High-A, AA, and AAA ball. The next year, he was still pitching well in AAA before being traded to the Padres in a deal for Royce Ring. He then underwent Tommy John surgery on his left elbow, and missed all of 2008 and most of 2009.
And since then, he’s been stuck pitching in A-ball in the Orioles organization. In 2011, he was pitching for Frederick when he got called up to Norfolk. He made two appearances, giving up three runs in 2 2/3 innings. Even though he retired the last six batters he faced, he was sent back to Frederick. I guess the Orioles thought Mark Hendrickson was a vital part of their future.
Including his rehab stints, Startup has a career record of 23-6, with a career ERA of 2.66. His career AAA ERA is 3.23. Why is he still pitching Class A middle relief? It’s gotta be his delivery.