Jason Grilli pitched the Tigers to a loss to the White Sox today, turning the Pale Hose into division champions despite their best efforts. If salvaging a split with the Tigers' B team sends you into locker-room hysterics, then by all means, enjoy.
But we can discuss our dislike for the White Sox some other time. Who is this Jason Grilli who pitched for the third time in a Detroit uniform this afternoon, and pitched effectively again?
He's a former Marlin prospect, that's who, the fourth overall pick in the 1997 draft, by the Giants. In 2001, when the Marlins were bursting with sexy young pitchers -- Dempster, Clement, Penny, Burnett, Beckett, even Gary Knotts -- Jason Grilli lived on the fringe of that discussion. He was a former prospect, the sort of player who you might even have drafted on your fantasy team back then if you played in an extremely deep NL-only league. Like me.
He pitched poorly in the majors in 2001 when he got a chance. By then he was already ailing, Tommy John surgery followed, and the bloom was off the rose. He pitched fairly well in the minors over the next couple of years -- at every level from Rookie Ball to Triple-A -- but was no longer seen as major-league material. These same Sox called him up last year, for 8 bungled starts.
And then 2005. A full season in one spot. An International League championship. Two nice starts in Detroit, one last week to break a long losing streak. Grilli's the sort of pitcher it's easy to root for, the former golden boy. Let's be realistic and point out that his K/BB ratio in Toledo was just over 2 to 1, that he gave up more than a hit an inning, and that 13 unearned runs make his 4.09 ERA look better than it was. He doesn't look like a major-league pitcher. But he's happy to be here, and that's always a better story to read than one about Pudge or someone pissed off about something insubstantial.