January 13 – Happy Birthday Darrell Rasner

Yankee fans do not have fond memories of the 2008 season. It was Joe Girardi’s first year at the helm and the team went into the regular season betting heavily that Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy were going to provide at least two fifths of New York’s starting rotation, with Andy Pettitte, Chien-Ming Wang and Mike Mussina. Not only did the three youngsters fail miserably, Wang ruined his season with a freak base-running accident and Pettitte had a sub-par year going 14-14. Only 20-game winner Mike Mussina delivered better than expected results and by the end of the season, the Yankees found themselves out of the race for a postseason berth.

Besides Mussina, the only good story among the Yankees’ 2008 menagerie of starters was the jolt provided by Darrell Rasner when Gerardi inserted the Nevada-born right-hander into the rotation in early May. Rasner had broken into the big leagues in 2005 with the Nationals. The Yankees got him off waivers just before their 2006 spring training camp opened. In ’06 and ’07 he had bounced back and forth between New York and just about every farm team in the organization. When he got off to a great start in Scranton in 2008, he was called up and thrust into a starting role. He then proceeded to win his first three starts for New York and suddenly the pundits were wondering if it might be Rasner instead of Joba, Hughes or Kennedy who would actually solidify the Yankee rotation. That expectations balloon burst when he went on to lose ten of his last twelve decisions, but for that brief three-week stretch in May, he captured the attention and felt the admiration of Yankee fans.

When the 2008 season ended, Rasner faced a big decision. The Yankees were interested in re-signing him but his agent got him a bigger offer to play in Japan. The difference in dollars was at least a million bucks. He loved pitching in New York and he had lots of apprehension about playing and living in Japan. But his wife was expecting the couple’s second child and the then 28-year-old Rasner knew the money he could make in Japan would help him solidify his growing family’s future so he made the move. After a rough first couple of years as a starter for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan’s Pacific League, Rasner was converted to a reliever and he’s become very good in that role. He registered 17 saves for the Eagles in 2013. If the name of his Japanese team sounds a bit familiar to Yankee fans, its because Rasner has been Masahiro Tanaka’s teammate for the past five seasons. The Yankees are about to offer the moon to Tanaka to make him part of their starting rotation in 2014.

Rasner shares his birthday with this not-well-remembered Yankee shortstop.

2006 NYY 3 1 .750 4.43 6 3 1 0 0 0 20.1 18 10 10 2 5 11 1.131
2007 NYY 1 3 .250 4.01 6 6 0 0 0 0 24.2 29 14 11 4 8 11 1.500
2008 NYY 5 10 .333 5.40 24 20 1 0 0 0 113.1 135 74 68 14 39 67 1.535
4 Yrs 9 15 .375 5.00 41 30 3 0 0 0 165.2 187 101 92 20 54 93 1.455
NYY (3 yrs) 9 14 .391 5.06 36 29 2 0 0 0 158.1 182 98 89 20 52 89 1.478
WSN (1 yr) 0 1 .000 3.68 5 1 1 0 0 0 7.1 5 3 3 0 2 4 0.955
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 1/13/2014.

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