Player: Ken Dayley was the third overall pick of the Braves in the 1980 draft out of the University of Portland. After spending his first year at AA Savannah, Dayley pitched well at AAA Richmond in 1981, with a 3.33 ERA in 200 innings, but showed he wasn't quite ready for the majors by walking 117 batters. He started the '82 season back at Richmond but was called up to the Braves in May. He made 11 starts and had a handful of relief outings with mixed results before being sent back down at the end of July. He returned in September, but did not pitch in the postseason for the Braves. His stats on the year show improved control but he was hit pretty hard sporting a 4.54 ERA and 1.458 WHIP in 71 innings.
Dayley didn't initially make the team in '83 but was recalled in mid-June and was used as a spot starter and long man out of the pen. The results were slightly better but the young pitcher improved a little bit to a 4.30 ERA in 104 frames.
The southpaw made the Braves opening day roster and was supposed to be a part of Atlanta's rotation but after failing to make it past the fourth inning in three of his four starts he was demoted. He was traded to the Cardinals in June with Mike Jorgensen for Ken Oberkfell. The Cardinals put him right to work but after two disastrous starts and a mop up appearance he was sent down for the balance of the season. Dayley's major league numbers were not pretty as he went 0-5 with a 7.99 ERA.
Dayley made the '85 Cardinals roster as a bullpen arm and was put to use right away with three scoreless outings in the first four games. He was even trusted with some save opportunities and have four saves and a 0.95 ERA at the end of May. He continued to be a dependable late inning option for manager Whitey Herzog as he saved 11 games with a 2.76 ERA in 65 innings. Dayley was stellar in the postseason logging 12 shutout innings with a win and two saves, as the Cards fell to the Royals in the World Series.
Dayley was having a decent season '86 when he hit the shelf in July with a 3.26 ERA. Tommy John surgery left him out of action until the following May. He returned and pitched well with a 2.66 ERA and four saves. He ran his postseason scoreless streak to 20.1 innings before he came into Game 6 of the World Series to face Kent Hrbek with the bases loaded. Dayley surrendered a grand slam pushing the Twins lead to 10-5. The Twins went on to win the game and took the series the next day.
The injury bug bit Dayley again when he injured his back while pitching on opening day in '88. He missed five weeks but put up similar numbers to the year prior with a 2.77 ERA in 55 frames. Dayley was healthy and continued his strong pitching with a third consecutive season with a sub-three ERA (2.87) and a career high 12 saves. His ERA rose to 3.56 in 1990 but he was still effectively keeping men off base as he allowed less than eight runners per nine innings for the fourth year in a row.
The Blue Jays signed the free agent Dayley after the 1990 season to a three year $6.3 million deal but it was a disaster as the Blue Jays would get just five innings from Dayley over the next three years. Dayley was plagued by vertigo and elbow problems and finished his career in '93 at AAA Albuquerque allowing 15 runs in 10 innings before calling it quits.
Flipside: Not sure how many of those minor league complete games were of the nine inning variety. At the big league level Dayley made 33 starts and worked into the eighth inning just twice and never completed a game. His best shot came on 6/24/83 when he carried a five-hit shutout and a ten run lead into the ninth inning against the Reds. Dayley gave up a double to Gary Redus to start the inning and retired the next two batters before giving up a home run to Johnny Bench. A single, walk, and a double to the next three hitters got him the hook in favor of Steve Bedrosian who put out the fire.
Oddball: These days St. Louis fans see a lot more of Dayley's daughter Sara than they do of him. Sara Dayley is an anchor for KSDK and Rams in game reporter.
History: Once Dayley found his niche in the majors he had a nice stretch with a 2.98 ERA and 39 saves from '85 - '90. He twice was on pennant winners with St. Louis, but was on the disabled list when the Blue Jays won back to back in '92 and '93.
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