Journey Man Scott Atchison Looks To Return to 2012 Form
Danny Madden | On 06, Mar 2014
The Cleveland Indians open the 2014 season with new expectations despite many questions. The Indians’ 25-man roster will look different than the group that won 92 games and lost the American League Wild Card game to the Tampa Bay Rays. While the roster may change and the expectations grow, Cleveland will need answer many questions this spring before opening the season in Oakland on March 31. Today, we look at one of the Indians’ players who is in a roster battle to earn one of the Tribe’s last spots on the Opening Day roster.
With spring training going in full force now, the competition for the last two bullpen spots is going to start heating up. Most of the current bullpen spots have already been taken by returning players and by the newly acquired relievers John Axford and Josh Outman. One guy that is seemingly a longshot for that final position in the bullpen is veteran Scott Atchison.
Atchison, 37-year old right hander, has had an interesting career since he was drafted by the Seattle Mariners back in 1998. He was originally drafted by the Mariners back in 1994, but decided to decline the offer to continue his studies at Texas Christian University. The Mariners then drafted him again in the round 49 of the 1998 draft, and Atchison decided to sign this time and begin his major league career. He then served five years in the Mariners minor league system before finally making his debut on July 31, 2004.
Even after making his splash into the majors though, Atchison continued to bounce between the majors and the Mariners Triple-A affiliate Tacoma. His last season in a Mariners uniform was in 2006, and he later signed with San Francisco Giants in 2007. During the season, he again split time between Triple-A Fresno and the major league club. In his time spent in Triple-A Fresno he posted an ERA of 2.01 with an 8.55 K/9, but he could never translate this type of performance in the major league level. In 22 games with the Giants, Atchison posted a modest 4.11 ERA with a 7.34 K/9 and a gruesome 2.93 BB/9. The Giants would eventually assign him to Triple-A at the end of the season, which Atchison would refuse and become a free agent.
In 2008, Atchison signed a deal with the Red Sox, but this contract was eventually sold to the Hanshin Tigers in Japan, where Atchison spent two years playing. Once he returned to the United States, he would again sign with the Red Sox in 2010.
The story of journey man Atchison continues even with the Red Sox as he again spent the season bouncing between both the Red Sox Triple-A Pawtucket, and the major league level. During the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Atchison made a total of 47 appearances in Triple-A Pawtucket, and made 60 appearances at the major league level. In 2011 though, it seemed that Atchison was finally starting to figure it out and posted a career best 3.26 ERA. This would then earn him a bullpen spot for the 2012 season where he again showed Boston that he deserved to be with the club.
He went on to post another career best ERA of 1.58, a K/9 of 6.3, BB/9 of 1.6, and a WHIP of 0.994. It seemed that Atchison really turned a corner during this season, but having it be so late in his career it didn’t create any promise that he would repeat this type of performance again. Even after having a great season with the train wreck team that was the 2012 Boston Red Sox, he was let go into free agency to then sign a minor league deal with the New York Mets.
Coming off of his best season, the Mets were hoping to find a diamond in the ruff with Atchison. Sadly, it seemed that he began to revert to his old ways, along with having to be sent to the 15 day disabled list two times during the season. After a DL stint for right elbow inflammation and another stint for a right groin strain, he continued to pitch for the Mets for the remainder of the season. In 50 games for the Mets, Atchison posted a 4.37 ERA, a 5.6 K/p, 2.4 BB/9, and a 1.257 WHIP. He would eventually be let go to free agency, and then signed a minor league deal with Cleveland.
When it comes to his repertoire, he doesn’t have any type of pitch that will blow a batter away. The pitch that he tends to throw the most will be his slider, but he also has a four seam fastball, curveball, and every now and then he’ll throw in a changeup. His fast ball sits at about 90-94 mph, and so he won’t be confusing any batters with his velocity.
The chances that Atchison makes the opening day roster is very slim, but he is not a stranger to playing in a minor league system and used as a depth option. Atchison could be this year’s Matt Capps, as long as he can stay healthy. With all the different pitchers that have reported to spring training, it seems obvious that manager Terry Francona has a strong infatuation with pitching depth. During a season, sometimes there is a need to recall a pitcher from the minor league affiliate after a long 14 inning game, or another pitcher goes down with an injury, and it’s nice to have a veteran pitcher to answer that call when needed. This could be the kind of pitcher that Scott Atchison may be for the Cleveland Indians this season.
There is still a chance that Atchison could make the opening day roster, but with pitchers such as C.C. Lee, Nick Hagadone, Preston Guilmet, Vinnie Pestano, Blake Wood, and potentially Josh Tomlin and Carlos Carrasco as well, Atchison seems to be the dark horse of that group. If Atchison can return to his 2012 form that was shown with the Boston Red Sox, then he could be a valuable weapon to be used at some point during this season.
Photo: Jordan Bastion/MLB.com