Last night the Pittsburgh Pirates won their 82nd game of the 2013 season, a remarkable accomplishment for a franchise that hasn't sniffed .500 since George H.W. Bush was our president and I had a Commodore 64. In a 162-game season, 81 wins got the team to .500-at-worst...82 takes the Buccos over the hump and into "winning season" territory. THIS IS FINALLY HAPPENING!
After the Pirates won their 81st, I commemorated the event by Photoshopping Barry Bonds' dangly gold cross earring onto every Pirates position player. It was my way of reconciling the last winning season with the current, and a chance to show love to a guy who left the team following that fateful '92 NLCS loss to the Atlanta Braves. Barry wasn't the only Pirates star to bounce out of Black and Gold after that season, though.
Doug Drabek won 92 games as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates over a six-year stretch. 22 of those wins came in 1990, earning him the NL Cy Young award and the ongoing distinction of being the last Pirate pitcher to do just that. In essence, the Pirates' current streak of no Cy Young winner since Drabek (1990) outlasts both the losing streak (1993) or the team having a league MVP (Bonds, 1992).
Drabek's worst season in Pittsburgh came in his first, going 11-12 with a 3.08 ERA. In his next five seasons with the Pirates, Drabek never won less than 14 games and his highest era was a mere 3.08. The Pirates counted on him on the mound nearly as much as they counted on Bonds at the plate or in left field.
So following Sid Bream beating Bonds' throw home to end the '92 NLCS, Barry goes to San Francisco and becomes public enemy number one. Lost in that anger was Drabek leaving for the Houston Astros to join Barry in 1993's NL West. Only Drabek was still an Astro from '94-'96, when the NL Central was formed and our once mighty Pirates ace became a divisional foe.
Drabek went 9-18 his first season with the Astros, leading the league in losses. A fitting punishment for the blood-thirsty, it would seem. Only he rebounded to become an All-Star and Cy Young 4th-place finisher in '94 with the Pirates in-division.
But this isn't about Drabek the Astro, just like the last post wasn't about Bonds the Giant. Doug Drabek will always be remembered for being a truly special Pirates ace who won 92 games as a Bucco and took home pitching's highest honor while wearing Black and Gold. And it's also about connecting the past with the present...honoring the guys who helped break the losing streak while showing love to a major component of the last winning squad who left following that '92 NLCS.
So we move to the 2013 Pirates pitchers, guys who were just as important to ending the losing streak as the position players. I didn't include guys on the DL like Jeff Karstens or Phil Irwin, or guys who were around for a minute like Duke Welker or Andy Oliver. I DID include Wandy Rodriguez because why not and it's my site.
Come for the crappy Photoshopping and join me again after the jump.
Relief Pitchers (The Shark Tank)