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Did The Tribe Win Last Night? | November 23, 2017

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Guthrie Has Found Some Success Since Leaving Cleveland

By Craig Gifford

The 1990s were obvious boom years for the Cleveland Indians offense. As documented in recent weeks, names like Brian Giles, Sean Casey and Jeromy Burnitz had to be jettisoned to other teams in order to become successful players. They were not going to succeed in cracking those powerful Tribe lineups, 15 years ago.

That same sentiment could be said for some young pitchers who could not break through in the early to middle 2000s, when Cleveland put an emphasis on talented pitching. One such pitcher was Jeremy Guthrie. The Indians’ first round draft pick in 2002, Guthrie had a wealth of talent. He had actually been drafted the year before by Pittsburgh, in the third round, but could not come to an agreement. In 1997, the Mets drafted him out of high school in the 15th round, but Guthrie opted for college. A lot of teams saw a lot of potential in the right-handed, Stanford product.

Guthrie had his struggles in the minors. Between that and a wealth of talent in Cleveland’s starting rotation at the time, the highly touted prospect did not get much of  a chance with the Indians.

Despite subpar performances at Triple-A in 2004 and 2005, Guthrie was given a few opportunities to play in the big leagues. He made seven appearances in Cleveland between those two seasons. In 2006, at the age of 27, he seemingly finally figured out how to throw against professional hitters with a splendid International League season in Buffalo. His success, which included a 3.14 ERA at Triple-A, prompted the Indians to give him more of a look that summer. Guthrie made nine appearances for the Tribe, with one start. The results were not pretty as he struggled to the tune of a 6.98 ERA. After the season, the Indians put Guthrie, then out of options, on waivers.

All, apparently was not lost for the soon-to-be 28-year-old. Guthrie was picked up by the Baltimore Orioles, a team with which he would eventually break out and have some good success. In 2007, he rewarded the faith of his new employers with a 7-5 record and 3.70 ERA.  In 2008 and 2010, he won double-digit games with sub-4.00 ERAs.  However, 2011 would prove to be a down year. At 4.33, Guthrie’s ERA was not horrendous, but lack of run support helped lead to a hideous 9-17 record. The 17 losses led the league.

Before the 2012 campaign, Baltimore traded Guthrie to Colorado. The change of scenery did not help. In fact, it had a reverse effect as Guthrie got off to an awful start last year. In 19 games, 15 starts, with the Rockies, he posted a 3-9 record with a 6.35 ERA. Clearly things were not working out in the thin Denver air.

The Royals, pitching-thin, but strong potential, young bats, came calling on July 20 and swung a trade for Guthrie. The 33-year-old veteran rebounded beautifully in his return to the American League Central Division. In 14 starts, he went 5-3 with a 3.16 ERA. It was enough to entice Kansas City into bringing Guthrie back for this coming season.

Up and down as Guthrie’s career has been, it is a bit disappointing that the Tribe did not try to hang on to him a little longer. A steady veteran who won’t dazzle anyone, but will hold his own, he would look nice at the end of Cleveland’s rotation about now. Of course, it is entirely possible Guthrie would never have found any Major League success had he stuck around the Indians. At the time he left for the Orioles, a change of uniform was perhaps just what he needed.

Now a nine-year big leaguer, Guthrie’s numbers stand at a career 55-77 with a 4.28 ERA. those are far from stellar numbers. However, an ERA in the low 4.00s in a day of quality pitching on high demand and low in abundance should keep Guthrie going a little while longer. In the end, Guthrie is not likely to have the appearance of a first round draft selection, though he will finish with a long career that a lot of young players can still only hope to have.

Photo: Getty Images