Tuesday, May 8, 2012

#168 Juan Eichelberger - San Diego Padres

Juan Eichelberger's third Topps card shows him warming up in Dodger Stadium.  The perspective makes his glove appear humongous.  The back of the card lists him as throwing right, so I know he has another arm there.  The inset pic shows Eichelberger with mischievous look on his face...what was he up to anyway?
Player:  Juan Eichelberger debuted in the majors at the tail end of the '78 season.  The former 1st round pick (Jan '75) pitched three games in relief and gave up four runs in 3.1 innings.  He had a solid year at AAA in '79 and was rewarded with three September starts with the big club.  He split two decisions with his win coming in a complete game, four-hit, one run effort against the Braves.

Eichelberger split the '80 season between AAA Hawaii and San Diego.  He made thirteen starts and two relief appearances for the Padres with a 5-3 record and a 3.65 ERA over 88.2 innings.

Eichelberger spent the next two years in the Padres starting rotation.  In '81 he went 8-8 with a 3.50 ERA in 141.1 innings.  He struggled in '82 losing twice as many as he won (7-14) with a 4.20 ERA.  In 177.2 innings he walked nearly as many as he struck out, 72/74.  After the season, he was traded with Broderick Perkins to Cleveland for Ed Whitson

With the Indians, Eichelberger started the year in the pen, joined the rotation for a couple of months, and finished the year back in the pen.  He went 4-11 with 4.90 ERA walking 59 and fanning 56 in 134 frames. 

Eichelberger spent the next four seasons in the minors.  Pitching mainly in relief he battled back to join the Braves in May of 1988.  He spent two months with Atlanta, pitched 20 games in relief with a 3.86 ERA and 1.446 WHIP in 37.1 innings.  He was sent back down to the bushes and never returned to the big leagues.

Like Mark Brouhard, the subject of our last post, Eichelberger went overseas and played for the Yakult Swallows on the Japan Central League.  He then played in the Senior Professional Baseball League until it folded in '91.  In seven major league seasons the righthander posted a 26-36 record with a 4.10 ERA (88 ERA+) in 603.1 innings.

Stuff:  Fastball, curve, slider, change, sinker
Flipside:  Eichelberger gets mention on the bottom for his double and triple.  Those were two of his five hits for the year.  He was 5-55 in '82 and batted .103 for his career.

Oddball:  His inability to make contact was record breaking.  Eichelberger once whiffed 15 straight times to set an MLB record that has since been broken. (Daniel Cabrera 18)

History:  Eichelberger didn't have a long or illustrious career and never pitched in the postseason.  He is probably remembered my most for his unusual name or the fact that he was in the trade that brought Ed Whitson to the Padres.
He and his son now run BaseballASAP a youth baseball facility.

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