Mark Mulder announced his retirement earlier this week without much fanfare, making official what has been assumed since he sat out all of last season following disastrous stints with the Cardinals in 2006, 2007, and 2008.
Mulder won 16 games with a 3.64 ERA as a 27-year-old in 2005, but then injuries hit and he won just six more games while posting a 7.73 ERA in 106 innings and was finished at age 30.
Because of how poorly and prematurely Mulder’s career ended it’s easy to forget just how good he was before all the health problems. Looking at all left-handed pitchers since the mound was lowered in 1969, he ranks tied for sixth with 97 wins through the age of 27:
THROUGH AGE 27 W
Vida Blue 124
F. Valenzuela 118
CC Sabathia 117
Don Gullet 109
Frank Tanana 106
MARK MULDER 97
Mark Buehrle 97
Tom Glavine 95
Jerry Reuss 95
Ross Grimsley 87
Interestingly, his former “Big Three” rotation-mate Barry Zito ranks 11th with 85 wins through age 27.
Decades from now when people stumble across Mulder’s stats and see just 103 wins they probably won’t give him much thought, but he was one of the most successful early career lefties in baseball history and would probably be a 31-year-old with around 175 wins right now if not for the injuries.
The Cubs soundly defeated the Cardinals on Monday night, 10-2, sending their magic number down to one. They will try to clinch the NL Central on Tuesday with another win against the Cardinals. Alternatively, if they lose, they can still clinch if the Brewers also lose on Tuesday.
The Cubs, of course, won the Central last year en route to winning their first World Series since 1908. It wasn’t nearly as easy this year as the club was below .500 entering June and was exactly at .500 entering July. A 16-8 July, 17-12 August, and 15-8 September have helped put the Cubs back in position to return to the postseason.
Not to be forgotten, the Cardinals were eliminated from NL Central contention with Monday’s loss. Now they have their sights set on the second NL Wild Card slot and currently trail the Rockies in that race.
The matchups for Tuesday’s action:
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union Tribune reports that Padres pitcher Carter Capps will undergo surgery this offseason to address thoracic outlet syndrome, which doctors believe caused the right-hander’s blood clots. The Padres hope to have him ready by spring training next year.
Capps, 27, underwent Tommy John surgery last year and didn’t debut this season until August 7. He made 11 relief appearances, yielding nine runs on 12 hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings. He went back on the DL on September 12 due to the blood clot issue.
The Padres acquired Capps from the Marlins last July in the Andrew Cashner trade which ended up having a lot of moving parts. Capps will enter his third and final year of arbitration eligibility this offseason. It’s quite possible the Padres choose to non-tender him.