Will Mike Maroth make a successful comeback?

Reading through the latest Peter Gammons blog entry ‘Top 20 comebacks to watch‘ (subscription required); I was disappointed to see one name not on the list: Mike Maroth. The list was filled with some big names (Barry Bonds), players who didn’t have major injuries or played through the season (Coco Crisp, Keith Foulke), and a Royal (Zack Greinke). What was missing was a starter for a World Series team who started off the year hot but by mid year was on the 60-day DL.

Many around Detroit looked on as Maroth came back after having bone fragments removed from his elbow and it didn’t go all too well. Actually Mike believes the injury helped him get off to a good start:

You can ask pretty much any pitcher: The worse you feel, the better you’re going to do. Pitchers always get cautious when they feel too good, because then they try to do too much. They go out there, say, ‘Hey, my arm feels good,’ and they try to throw harder. I was able to pitch. I didn’t try to do more than I was capable of, because the arm didn’t feel great.

I sure as heck hope not. In March, April & May his stats were:

W L ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO
5 2 3.62 47.3 56 20 19 8 15 22

In September his stats were (keep in mind he didn’t make any more starts, so these are all innings in relief):

W L ERA IP H R ER HR BB SO
0 0 9.53 5.2 8 6 6 3 1 2

Not really a high number of innings but it was pretty bad and Maroth was not kept on the team for the playoffs.

I don’t think many expected an immediate return to the previous level of pitching but it was a number of pretty bad outings and I know he was disappointed. This spring training will show a bit of what might be in store for this season and whether or not he has found out how to pitch without the pain.

I also had expected to see Gary Sheffield on the comeback list but, alas, the Tigers got a big zero.

On a side note: The Baltimore Sun has a short and amusing interview with ex-Tiger lefty specialist Jamie Walker.

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