Tuesday, January 24, 2012

#90 Jerry Reuss - Los Angeles Dodgers

Card:  Veteran pitcher Reuss appears on his 14th Topps card.
Pic:  By the looks of his hand, it seems Reuss either turned over a change up or threw a screwball.
Player:   Jerry Reuss was a 2nd round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals, his home town team in 1967.  By the end of the ’69 season the tall lefty had thrown seven shutout innings in his first MLB action.  He split the ’70 season between the majors and AAA Tulsa, making 20 starts for the Cards with a 4.10 ERA.  Reuss was a part of the Cardinals starting staff in ’71, making 35 starts and logging 211 innings.  Reuss struggled with his control walking 109 batters and it showed in his 4.78 ERA.
Just prior to the ’72 season, Reuss was dealt to the Astros for Lance Clemons and Scipio Spinks.  Reuss won nine games in ’72 with a 4.17 ERA in 30 starts.   The 6’5” Reuss made a league best 40 starts in ’73 but the young Reuss clashed with old-school manager Leo Durocher.  Reuss won 16 games with an ERA (3.74) near the league average but the friction with Durocher led to a trade to Pittsburgh which sent backstop Milt May to Houston.
Reuss won 48 games over the ’74-’76 seasons with the ‘75 being the best of the three.  He pitched six shutouts and had a sharp 2.54 ERA in 237 innings.  The playoffs had not been kind to the blond lefty, pitching well but getting hung with two losses in the NLCS defeat to the Dodgers in ’74 and getting hit hard against the eventual World Series champion Reds in ’75.  In 1977 he was not as effective and his ERA jumped to 4.11 which caused manager Chuck Tanner to demote Reuss to long man / spot starter status in ’78.  Reuss pitched only 82 innings with a 4.90 ERA. 
Before the ’79 season commenced, Reuss was traded to the Dodgers for Rick Rhoden.  He started the year in the pen and struggled for a while after joining the rotation.  His ERA was over five with two months left in the year but he lowered it to 3.54 by the end of the year but lost twice as many as he won (7-14).  
Reuss enjoyed his best years in the early 80's. The 1980 season was his best, as he posted a 2.51 ERA in 229 innings, won 18 games, and led the NL with 6 shutouts.  He threw a no-hitter against the Giants on June 27th with the only base runner reaching on a Bill Russell error.  His great year allowed him to finish second in Cy Young voting.  He stayed the course in ’81 with a 2.30 ERA and 10 wins in the labor-strife shortened season.  Reuss pitched well in the postseason throwing a shutout to close out the NLDS and winning a critical game five of the World Series.  The Dodgers went on the defeat the Yankees as Reuss and the Dodgers enjoyed bringing a championship to Los Angeles. 
Reuss continued to pitch well winning 18 and 12 over the next two years with ERAs of 3.11 and 2.94.  His '83 playoff experience wasn't as swell as '81, losing a pitcher's duel in game one of the NLCS and getting rocked in a game four loss to the Phillies.  Reuss was relegated to the pen for a while after a rough start to the '84 season which saw him end up with a 5-7 record and a 3.82 ERA.
Reuss rebounded with a 2.92 ERA over 212 innings in '85.  The veteran lefty won 14 regular season games but lost game four of the NLCS to the Cardinals who dispatched the Dodgers in six games.  A sore elbow and eventually surgery derailed his '86 season as he scuffled with a 5.84 ERA in 74 innings. 
Reuss came back in '87 but had lost velocity and was not the same.  After a two inning relief appearance the Dodgers released Reuss. He was picked up by the Reds but his performance was forgettable (30 ER/34 IP).  He was dumped again and was a little better for the Angels, where he posted a 5.25 ERA in 16 starts. 
Reuss signed with the White Sox and bounced back with a respectable 3.44 ERA in 188 innings in '88.  Things weren't as smooth in '89 and he was traded mid-year to Milwaukee for Brian Drahman.  The crafty lefty struggled for the Brewers too and finished the year with a 5.13 ERA in 140 innings. 
Reuss, now with a head full of white hair that made him appear even older than his 1949 birth date would attest, was not ready to hang it up.  This led him to a whirlwind tour in 1990.  Signed and released by the White Sox in spring training, Reuss also pitched for the Astros at the AA and AAA levels before the Pirates picked him up and assigned him to AAA Buffalo.  Reuss pitched well enough to get called back up to Pittsburgh.  He pitched out of the bullpen for three games and got the start in game #162, giving up three runs in five and a third innings.  Reuss realized his time had run out and retired with 220 wins over his 22 year career.
Stuff:  Until his elbow surgery, Reuss

Flipside:  Reuss followed up his one-hitter with a four-hit shutout in his next start on 4-27-82.

Oddball:  According to an interview with Reuss, the Cardinals traded the young lefty to the Astros because owner August Busch II didn't approve of Reuss' blond mustache.

History:  Reuss bounced around a lot following his prime years with the Dodgers.  He will be best remembered as a key part of the '81 championship Dodgers.  Reuss was a two time All-Star, accumulating 220 wins with a career ERA of 3.64. 
After his rubber arm finally wore out, he turned to the broadcast booth, working games for the Dodgers and ESPN.  He then coached in the minors for the Expos, Cubs, and Mets.  Later he worked on radio broadcasts for the the Las Vegas 51's.
Reuss has a pretty cool website, check it out.

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