Thursday, December 1, 2011

#55 Chuck Rainey

Card:  Rainey is pictured here on his fourth Topps card.  He was on a three player rookie card in the 1980 set.

Pic:  Rainey is about to lean forward and deliver a first I thought that was the Green Monster in the background but he is wearing a road uniform.  Rainey looks pretty stern in the inset. 

Player: Chuck Rainey was a first round pick by the Red Sox in the '74 draft.  The 5'11" right handed hurler spent parts of five seasons in the minors before making the Red Sox squad in 1979.  Rainey was the number five starter for most of the season with a visit to the disabled list and AAA Pawtucket in July and August.  Rainey started 16 games in 20 appearances and went 8-5 with a 3.82 ERA. 

Rainey started 1980 in the bullpen but moved to the rotation in May before tearing a shoulder muscle in July.  Rainey's season was over after only 16 games.  Despite his 4.86 ERA Rainey won eight and lost only three.  After rehabbing his shoulder he pitched in only 11 games, two starts, in '81.  Rainey was used carefully and pitched mainly in low leverage situations posting a 2.70 ERA in 40 innings.  Rainey was back in the rotation as Boston's number five starter in '82.  He missed a few starts in June but was able to make 25 starts and two relief appearances.  When the soft-tosser was good he was very good (three shutouts) but when he off, he got pounded (11 starts less than five innings).  Rainey finished the year with a 5.02 ERA but once again managed a winning 7-5 record.

Rainey was traded to the Cubs for Doug Bird before the '83 season.  Rainey would have his healthiest and most productive season in Chicago, making 34 starts, winning 14 against 13 losses and posting a 4.48 ERA.  Rainey was pretty much a five or six inning starter but he had everything working for him in an August 24th game against the Reds.  Rainey took a no-hitter into the ninth inning but with two outs Eddie Milner lined a single to centerfield.  The 30 year old Rainey finished off the Reds with a one-hit shutout, walking just two and whiffing five.  Rainey even added two of his three hits on the year in the game of his life.

Rainey was in the Cubs rotation to start the '84 season and made 16 starts with a 4.24 ERA when he was traded on July 15th to the Oakland A's in return for Davey Lopes.  Rainey pitched out of the bullpen for the A's but was hit hard giving up 23 earned runs in 30 innings.  A little over a year from his one-hit shutout, Rainey had thrown his last pitch.

Stuff: Sinker (83-85 mph), slider, curve

Flipside:  That June 19th outing... Rainey gave up three runs in 5.1 innings which Topps thought was more noteworthy than his third shutout on August 31.

Oddball:  With a career ERA of 4.50 (ERA+ 91) and a WHIP of 1.531, it seems strange that Rainey could toss six complete game shutouts among his 106 career starts.  He averaged less than 5 2/3 innings per start. 
Rainey was very lucky to have a career 43-35 record with his poor rate stats.

History:  Rainey will be remembered for his near no-hitter in Wrigley Field in '83.  He was traded mid-way through the Cubs '84 division winning season and missed out on his best chance at playing in the post-season.  His lack of velocity made it difficult for him to survive against big league hitters.  Sometimes crafty veterans can get by with a mediocre fastball but Rainey's breaking pitches weren't enough to keep hitters off balance and his career was dead before he turned 31.

The next card in the '83 set features a high school teammate of Rainey's. 

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