Bidding farewell to local arms
Trio of pitchers were only area products active in MLB season that just concluded.
Former Glendale Community College standout pitcher Marco Estrada may have made a transition to the starting rotation in 2012 with the Milwaukee Brewers. (Courtesy of Scott Paulus/Milwaukee Brewers / November 3, 2012)
PITCH TO BE STARTER
At the onset of the 2012 season, the Milwaukee Brewers seemed to be set on using former Glendale Community College standout Marco Estrada as a long reliever/spot starter out of the bullpen.
The club may have to reassess those plans going forward, as Estrada proved himself to be a more than viable option for every-fifth-day duty when he was thrust into the Brewers’ rotation after returning from a stint on the disabled list due to a strained right quadriceps on June 26.
Sitting at 0-3 with a 4.50 earned-run average to that point, Estrada went on to finish the season 5-7 with a 3.64 ERA, striking out 143 batters to just 29 walks. He finished the year out on a dominant run in which he went 5-2 over his last eight starts with a 2.03 earned-run average over 48 2/3 innings.
Estrada, who is currently eligible for salary arbitration, flirted with a shutout in his final start of the season on Sept. 29 at home against the Houston Astros. He held the Astros scoreless on four hits and a walk while fanning 11 through eight innings, but did not come back out for the ninth after throwing 114 pitches.
“To finish the regular season like that, it was amazing,” Estrada told mlb.com. following the Brewers’ 9-5 win.
That win kept Milwaukee (83-79 for third in the National League Central) in contention for a wild-card spot, but ultimately the Brewers would fall short in their bid to reach the postseason after making it as far as the NLCS the previous year.
WELL, WHEN HEALTHY
Glendale native Brandon McCarthy pitched as well as he ever has in his seven–year Major League career in 2012 and led the A’s staff when he was healthy. Unfortunately for the big right-hander, his pattern of being injury prone — and in one particular case, just plain unlucky — continued to plague him.
McCarthy wasn’t a factor in Oakland’s remarkable surge to overtake the favored Texas Rangers and claim the American League West Division title, as he made his last appearance of the season on Sept. 5 against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in a game where he was struck in the head with a batted ball.
A CT scan performed later that day showed McCarthy had suffered a skull fracture, brain contusion and epidural hemorrhage and he underwent surgery to relieve pressure in his head on Sept. 6.
McCarthy was released from the hospital on Sept. 11 in stable condition and reportedly in good spirits. As of that time, there was no set timetable for McCarthy’s return, as he was barred from doing any strenuous rehab or exercise until his skull has completely healed, but he is expected to be ready for Spring Training.
Following McCarthy’s injury, Oakland went 18-8 down the stretch of the regular season, including sweeping a three-game set from the Rangers to clinch the division title on the final day of the regular season on Oct. 3. The A’s, who finished the season 94-68, fell to the eventual American League-champion Detroit Tigers in five games in the 2012 ALDS.
McCarthy, who also battled right shoulder problems intermittently throughout the season, landed on the disabled list on May 20 after starting the season 3-3 with a 2.95 earned-run average in nine starts and made only three starts, all wins, when he returned to the team June 2 before missing nearly all of the next two months. He returned to the club once again on Aug. 10, but saw his earned-run average rise from 2.54 to 3.24 before his season was cut short by the head injury.
His final season line was an 8-6 record with a 3.24 ERA and 73 strikeouts to 24 walks. McCarthy enters free agency in 2013, but the San Francisco Chronicle reports that both McCarthy and the A’s have mutual interest in signing an extension.
AN UP AND DOWN
SEASON FOR SLATEN
Despite compiling a serviceable 2.77 ERA out of the bullpen for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the former Vaquero left-hander was optioned to Pittsburgh's Triple-A affiliate Indianapolis Indians on July 26 and designated for assignment the following day. He would spend the rest of the season with the Indians.
After excelling at the Triple-A level to start the season, Slaten made his season big-league debut on May 29 with a scoreless inning against the Cincinnati Reds and proceeded to go five more straight appearances without allowing a run. In all, Slaten gave up just four runs in 13 innings of work, while never factoring in a decision.
SANCHEZ SITS OUT
GIANTS’ SERIES RUN
A key contributor in the San Francisco Giants’ World Series win in 2010, Sanchez was nowhere to be found when the Giants won their second title in three years with a World Series sweep of the Detroit Tigers on Oct. 28.
In fact, Sanchez, who played at Burbank High and GCC, never made an appearance at all this season, as he remained on the disabled list from Spring Training while trying to return from right shoulder surgery and a subsequent back ailment until July 5 when it was announced he would undergo season-ending back surgery.
Sanchez had some productive times in a Giants’ uniform when not affected by various injuries, as he batted .290 with 78 runs batted in and 87 runs scored in 196 games since joining the team in 2009. He signed a contract extension before the season that paid him six million dollars in 2012, but at the same time turned down a club option for 2013.