This Date in Pittsburgh Pirates History: Rick Rhoden and Rick Reuschel

Five former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date.

Williams Jerez, pitcher for the 2019 Pirates. He was a 2011 draft pick of the Boston Red Sox, selected in the second round out of high school in Brooklyn, NY. Jerez was an outfielder during his first three seasons of minor league ball, failing to get out of short-season ball, while watching his OPS drop each year. In 2013, he had a .176 average in 38 games in the New York-Penn League. He switched to pitching in 2014 and had a 2.88 ERA in 34.1 innings, while still remaining in short-season ball. He finally made it to Low-A in 2015 and ended up running through three levels, finishing in Double-A. Jerez had a combined 2.54 ERA in 88.2 innings over 41 appearances. In 2016, he spent the entire year in Double-A, posting a 4.71 ERA in 65 innings over 40 appearances. He began 2017 in Double-A, before moving up to Triple-A late in the season. Between the two levels, he had a 3.27 ERA in 38 games and 63.1 innings. Jerez pitched winter ball in the Dominican that year for the first time, making ten relief appearances. In 2018, he began the year in Triple-A, making 34 appearances before he was traded to the Los Angeles Angels. The Angels soon brought him to the majors for the first time and Jerez put up a 6.00 ERA in 15 innings over 17 appearances. The Angels traded him to the San Francisco Giants at the end of Spring Training in 2019 for Chris Stratton, who became his teammate with the Pirates just 4 1/2 months later. Jerez spent most of the season in Triple-A in 2019. He appeared in six games with the Giants and he gave up two runs in 6.2 innings. The Pirates acquired him via waivers on September 13, 2019. He made six appearances for the Pirates, allowing three runs in 3.2 innings. He was with the Pirates during Spring Training in 2020, but he wasn’t part of the 60-man player pool during the season. Once the 2020 season ended, he became a free agent. Jerez has yet to sign anywhere. He has pitched winter ball in the Dominican in each of the last two off-seasons, making a total of 28 relief appearances.

Mitch Webster, Pirates outfielder in 1991. On his 32nd birthday, the Pirates acquired Webster from the Indians in exchange for pitcher Mike York. He was in his ninth season in the majors at the time and hitting just .125 through 13 games with Cleveland. Webster’s stay in Pittsburgh was a short one. Just 48 days after the trade, he was dealt to the Los Angeles Dodgers for outfielder Jose Gonzalez. The odd part about those two being swapped is that they played for the same three teams that season, just in reverse order. Webster played 36 games in Pittsburgh, mostly in right field, hitting .175 with nine RBIs. He remained with the Dodgers until 1995, mostly as a bench player. He started just 100 games total during his 4 1/2 seasons in Los Angeles. Webster ended his 13-year big league career with a .263 average, 342 RBIs, 160 stolen bases and 504 runs scored in 1,265 games.

Webster was originally a 23rd round draft pick of the Dodgers in 1977 out of high school in Kansas, but he was taken in the minor league draft by the Toronto Blue Jays in 1979 before he played in Los Angeles. The switch-hitter Webster hit .351 with 36 walks in 55 games, while playing in the Pioneer League in 1977. Despite those outstanding results, he spent half of 1978 back in the Pioneer League and part of the year in Low-A, combining to post a .718 OPS in 100 games. Webster spent all of 1979 in Low-A, putting up a .326 average, 54 steals and 95 runs scored in 123 games. In his first season with the Blue Jays, he split the year between A-Ball and Triple-A, hitting .255 with 20 steals in 114 games between the two stops. His odd progress saw him spend all of 1981 in Double-A, after skipping the level during the previous season. He hit .294 with 26 doubles and 52 steals in 1981, then moved back to Triple-A in 1982, where he batted .281 with 41 extra-base hits and 67 walks in 137 games. The 1983 season was spent back in Triple-A. Webster hit .260 with 43 extra-base hits and 21 steals, then got a September call-up to the majors. He went 2-for-11 with a walk in 11 games for the Blue Jays.

In 1984, Webster was with the Blue Jays for the first six weeks of the season, then came back in September. He didn’t start a single game during his first stint, then started twice during the final month. He played four big league games in 1985 before being dealt to the Montreal Expos in a trade in late June. That move gave him a chance to play regularly. He played 74 games over the final 3+ months, hitting .274 with 11 homers and 15 steals. In 1986, Webster batted .290 in 151 games, with 36 steals, 31 doubles, 89 runs scored and a league-leading 13 triples. He led all National League center fielders with 12 assists. He played a career high 156 games in 1987 and set a personal best with 101 runs scored. He hit .281 with 30 doubles, and set highs with 15 homers, 63 RBIs and 70 walks. Webster’s stats dropped well off the next year and he was traded mid-season to the Chicago Cubs. Between the two teams, he hit .260 in 151 games, with a .693 OPS. He became a platoon player in 1989, hitting .257 in 98 games, with a .695 OPS. He was traded to the Cleveland Indians in the off-season and showed remarkable consistency by posting a .693 OPS in 128 games. It was his third straight season with a .693-.695 OPS. Webster hit 12 homers and stole 22 bases in 1990, the year before he joined the Pirates.

Bob Patterson, Pirates pitcher in 1986-87 and then from 1989 until 1992. He was a 21st round draft pick of the San Diego Padres in 1982 out of East Carolina University. He made quite a jump during that 1982 season, starting in the Gulf Coast League for eight games, before finishing in High-A ball, skipping over three levels. Patterson has similar results with both teams, combining for a 3.14 ERA in 77.1 innings. He spent the entire 1983 season in Double-A, where he had a 4.01 ERA in 116.2 innings, split between nine starts and 34 relief outings. He moved up to Triple-A for 1984, pitching in hitter-friendly Las Vegas, where he made seven starts and 53 relief appearances. Patterson picked up 13 saves, while putting together an 8-9, 3.27 record in 143.1 innings. He repeated Triple-A in 1985, splitting his time evenly between starting and relief. Patterson went 10-11, 3.14 in 186.1 innings. He received a September call-up that did not go well, with 11 runs over four innings and three appearances. The Pirates acquired him just before the start of the 1986 season in exchange for outfielder Marvell Wynne. In 1986, Patterson was with the Pirates for two weeks in late April/early May before being sent down to the minors. He returned in September and made five starts. He had a 3.40 ERA in 156 innings in Triple-A and a 4.95 ERA in 36.1 innings with the Pirates. In 1987, he was the Opening Day starter and hung around Pittsburgh for the first five weeks of the season before being sent to the minors. Just like the previous year, he returned in September, although this time he was a reliever. He had a 2.12 ERA in Triple-A and a 6.70 ERA in 43 innings with the Pirates.

Patterson was one of the last cuts during Spring Training of 1988, then missed most of the season with an arm injury, making just four Triple-A starts all season. In 1989, he went 12-6, 3.35 in 177.1 innings at Triple-A before getting recalled in September. He pitched often for the Pirates over the last month, making three starts and nine relief appearances. He went 4-3, 4.05 in 26.2 innings. Patterson finally spent a full season in the majors in 1990 and he helped the Pirates get to the playoffs with a 2.95 ERA in 55 outings and 94.2 innings, picking up five saves and eight wins. In the NLCS, he had two scoreless appearances, although he did allow three of the five batters he faced to reach base. He wasn’t as effective in 1991, posting a 4.11 ERA in 65.2 innings over 54 appearances, but the Pirates made the playoffs again and he threw two shutout innings against the Braves. The 1992 season was a strong one for Patterson as he posted a 2.92 ERA in 60 games and 64.2 innings, winning six times and saving nine other games. In the playoffs, he made two appearances, allowing one run in 1.2 innings. The Pirates released him following the season and he signed with the Texas Rangers. He had a 4.78 ERA in 52.2 innings in his only season with Texas, then moved on to the California Angels for two seasons, where was average his first season (4.07 ERA in 42 innings), before putting up a 3.04 ERA over 62 appearances in 1995. He signed with the Chicago Cubs in 1996 and had a role as a lefty specialist, though he also was used as the closer for a time. Patterson went 3-3, 3.13 with eight saves in 54.2 innings over 79 appearances. He had a slightly expanded role in 1997, going 59.1 innings over 76 games. He was 1-6 with no saves, but he had a solid 3.34 ERA. He was released by the Cubs in July of 1998 after posting a 7.52 ERA through 33 appearances and 20.1 innings. That ended his pro career. He pitched 13 seasons in the majors, finishing with 559 appearances and a 4.08 ERA in 617.1 innings pitched. With the Pirates, he went 25-21, 3.97 with 17 saves in 331 innings over 207 appearances (21 starts).

Rick Rhoden, pitcher for the 1979-86 Pirates. He was a first round draft pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1971, selected 20th overall out of Atlantic HS in Florida. The Dodgers started him in the Florida State League, where he had a 3.98 ERA in 61 innings over 11 starts. Rhoden split his first full season in baseball between Double-A and Triple-A, going 13-5, 3.56 in 167 innings. Despite the fast ascent, he stalled for a bit. He spent all of 1973 in Triple-A, going 4-9, 4.50 in 116 innings. He was back in Triple-A Albuquerque for a third season in 1974, putting up a 4.40 ERA in 178 innings. The Dodgers called him up mid-season and he pitched once on July 5th, then returned to the minors until September, when he returned for three relief appearances over the final two weeks of the season. He split the 1975 season between the rotation and bullpen, but by the 1976 season he was an All-Star. Rhoden made 11 starts and 15 relief appearances in 1975, putting up a 3.08 ERA in 99.1 innings. He made 26 starts in 1976, completing ten of those outings, while throwing three shutouts. He went 12-3, 2.98 in 181 innings. Rhoden helped lead the Dodgers to the World Series in 1977 by going 16-10, 3.74 in 216.1 innings over 31 starts. In the two rounds of the postseason, he allowed just two runs over 11.1 innings.

In 1978, Rhoden went 10-8, 3.66 in 164.2 innings, making 23 starts and seven relief appearances. The Dodgers once again made it to the World Series, though he only pitched during the NLCS, allowing one run over four innings. The Pirates acquired him on April 7, 1979 in exchange for veteran pitcher Jerry Reuss. Rhoden did not have a good start in a Pittsburgh uniform, needing shoulder surgery after just one start, which caused him to miss the rest of the 1979 season. He began the year in the minors in 1980, making ten starts before being recalled by the Pirates. Rhoden went 7-5, 3.84 in 126.2 innings that season, then improved his record to 9-4, while posting a 3.89 ERA in 136.1 innings over 21 starts during the strike-shortened 1981 campaign.

The 1982 season saw him set a career high with 230.1 innings pitched and he made 35 starts. His record was just 11-14, 4.14 for a Pirates team that finished six games over the .500 mark. In 1983, Rhoden upped his career best in innings pitched to 244.1, while making 35 starts again. This time he finished 13-13, 3.09 on the year. He also picked up his only career save during his one relief appearance of the year. The Pirates went 75-87 in 1984, but Rhoden was able to post a 14-9 record. His 2.72 ERA ranked fourth in the National League and he threw 238.1 innings. The strange thing about that season was that four of the Pirates five starting pitchers had winning records, yet the team finished well below the .500 mark.

Rhoden saw his ERA rise to 4.47 in 213.1 innings over 35 starts in 1985. With the Pirates winning just 57 games all year, his 10-15 record that season was actually a better winning percentage than the team’s overall number. He bounced back to have a big season in 1986, going 15-12, 2.84 in 253.2 innings. He was the only Pirates pitcher to win in double figures and his ERA ranked fourth in the NL. He was elected to the All-Star team for the second time during his career, with ten years between appearances in the mid-season classic. His 159 strikeouts that season were a career high. On November 26, 1986, Rhoden was dealt to the New York Yankees along with fellow pitchers Pat Clements and Cecilio Guante in return for young pitchers Doug Drabek, Logan Easley and Brian Fisher. He went 16-10, 3.86 in 181 innings with the Yankees in 1987, then had a 12-12, 4.29 record in 197 innings over 30 starts in 1988. Rhoden finished his career with the 1989 Houston Astros, going 2-6, 4.28 in 96.2 innings over 17 starts and three relief outings. In his 16-year career, he went 151-125, 3.59 in 2,593.2 innings. With the Pirates, he went 79-73, 3.51 in 1,448 innings.

He was known as a strong hitting pitcher, three times winning the Silver Slugger award (1984-86). He was even used as a DH once while with the Yankees. He had a .238 career average with nine homers and 75 RBIs. He batted over .300 in three seasons, including a .375 average with the Pirates in 1980. Despite his strong bat, he was used just 13 times as a pinch-hitter in his career.

Rick Reuschel, pitcher for the 1985-87 Pirates. He was a third round draft pick of the Chicago Cubs in 1970 out of Western Illinois University. It took him 42 starts to make it to the majors by June of 1972. He had a 2.31 ERA in 121 innings in Double-A in 1971 and a 1.32 ERA in 102 innings at Triple-A before the Cubs came calling. Despite debuting on June 19th, he still managed to reach ten wins as a rookie. Reuschel went 10-8, 2.93 in 129 innings, throwing four shutouts for the Cubs. In 1973, he went 14-15, 3.00 in 36 starts and 237 innings pitched. He had seven complete games and three shutouts. Reuschel had a 13-12, 4.30 record in 1974. He set a career high with 38 starts (also made three relief appearances) and he pitched 240.2 innings, a mark he would top five times in his career. The Cubs finished 12 games below .500 in 1975 and he had an 11-17 record, leading the National League in losses. He posted a 3.73 ERA in 234 innings. Reuschel went 14-12, 3.46 in a career high 260 innings in 1976. His best season came in 1977 for a Cubs team that finished at an even .500 record. He went 20-10, 2.79 in 252 innings, picking up his only 20-win season. He was an All-Star for the first time and finished third in the Cy Young voting, including one first place vote. He also received (mild) MVP support for the only time in his career.

In 1978, Reuschel dropped down to a 14-15 record, putting up a 3.41 ERA in 35 starts and 242.2 innings. From 1972 through 1980, those 35 starts were his lowest total in a season, showing how much of a workhorse pitcher he was during this time. The Cubs were 80-82 in 1979, but Reuschel went 18-12, 3.62 in 239 innings. He led the league with 38 starts in 1980 and posted a 3.40 ERA in 257 innings, though he finished with 11 wins on the season. As you may have guessed, the Cubs were bad that year, finished 64-98 on the season. He was traded to the New York Yankees during the strike-shortened 1981 season, switching teams the day after the strike started a trade for two players and cash. He had a 3.47 ERA in 85.2 innings with the Cubs and a 2.67 ERA in 70.2 innings with the Yankees. Reuschel missed the entire 1982 season due to rotator cuff surgery and he was released by the Yankees in June of 1983 without pitching a game that season. He signed with the Cubs two weeks later and made four starts before the year ended. In 1984, he went 5-5, 5.17 in 92.1 innings.

He already had 12 seasons of Major League experience when the Pirates signed him as a free agent on February 28, 1985. From his rookie season in 1972 until 1980, Reuschel won at least ten games every season, 125 victories in all. For the 1985 Pirates, he had an amazing season that no one could’ve expected from him when he signed, not after his high ERA and limited work in 1984, and especially not after compiling just 14 wins total over the 1981-84 seasons. He was pitching for a 1985 Pirates team that went 57-104 on the year, yet he managed to go 14-8, 2.27 in 194 innings. Reuschel helped make that record possible by completing seven of his wins. He threw a total of seven straight complete games from August 15th until September 15th, winning five of those games. He also won his first of two Gold Glove awards that season.

In 1986, the Pirates were slightly better as a team, but Reuschel saw his ERA slip to 3.96 and his record (9-16) suffered. He began the 1987 season in Pittsburgh, winning eight of his 25 starts before he was dealt to the San Francisco Giants in August for pitchers Jeff Robinson and Scott Medvin. Before he left, Reuschel was a representative of the Pirates in the 1987 All-Star game, his first selection in ten seasons. He also won his second Gold Glove and led the league with 12 complete games and four shutouts. That all led to his second third place finish in the Cy Young voting, which was the highest he finished for that award over his career. Reuschel would win 36 games over the next two seasons with the Giants, where he pitched until 1991. He wasn’t great after the deal, going 5-3, 4.32 in 50 innings, but he was much better during the next two years. In 1988, he went 19-11, 3.12 in 245 innings, while leading the league with 36 starts. He was an All-Star at age 40 in 1989 when he went 17-8, 2.94 in 32 starts and 208.1 innings pitched. He finished eighth in the Cy Young voting that season. Age and injuries caught up to his over his final two seasons. He pitched a total 97.2 innings and he was released in June of 1991, ending his career.

Reuschel finished with 214-191, 3.37 record in 3,548.1 innings. He ranks 34th all-time in games started with 529. While he was never considered to be a future Hall of Famer during his career, modern metrics have given him a case. His 68.1 WAR has him ranked 34th all-time for pitchers, putting him ahead of 46 pitchers enshrined in Cooperstown. His brother Paul pitched five years in the majors and was his teammate on the 1975-78 Cubs.

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