This one isn’t going to be easy. Trying to narrow about 40 starting pitchers down to just five to vote on – and then select one “Pitcher of the Decade” – is a difficult task.
Anyway, these are the candidates I came up with. You can vote here.
Note: For some reason Bucky Jacobsen is an option on the pitcher’s ballot – and I can’t fix it. So, any votes for him will be tossed out. Your opportunity to vote Bucky was in the DH poll this past week!
Joel Pineiro – pitched for Tacoma in 2000 and 2001, having tremendous success. Pineiro made a total of 19 starts for Tacoma in those two seasons, going 13-4 with a 3.26 ERA. Of all of the much-hyped Mariners pitching prospects of the early part of the decade, Pineiro ended up having more major league success than guys like Ryan Anderson, Clint Nageotte, Travis Blackley, and Rhett Johnson.
Denny Stark – the last Tacoma Rainier to win the Pacific Coast League Pitcher of the Year award, Stark went 14-2, with a 2.37 ERA in 2001. The unquestioned ace of the championship team, Stark was traded to the Rockies and went 11-4 as a rookie before two elbow surgeries slowed his career. Stark returned as a reliever with the Rainiers in 2008 and 2009.
Felix Hernandez – he was pretty good. Felix went 9-4, 2.25 over 19 starts in 2005, striking out 100 in 88 innings.*
Cha Seung Baek – a mainstay of the Rainiers starting rotation from 2004 to 2007, starting 65 games during that time. Baek has 26 career Tacoma wins, ranking 13th on the All-Time list – a list mostly comprised of pitchers from the 1960s and 1970s, before pitch counts became vogue. A native of South Korea, Baek ended up making his permanent home in Olympia.
Jorge Campillo – a classic Mexican League junkballer, Campillo changed speeds and had pinpoint command. Campillo pitched for the Rainiers in 2005 and 2007, having great success. Campillo led the PCL in ERA with a 3.07 mark in 2007, and he was 13-7, 2.97 overall with the Rainiers. His 2.97 career Tacoma ERA ranks 16th on the career list. Campillo had an outstanding season for the Atlanta Braves in 2008, but last year he was on the disabled list.
Head to the Rainiers home page and vote!
*at some point this season I’ll post my Felix Hernandez major league call-up story, starring Felix, Bill Bavasi, Dan Rohn, a couple stadium employees, and me.