Sep 26, 2014

Former Mets Relief Pitcher: Jon Rauch (2012)

Jon Erich Rauch was born September 27th in Louisville, Kentucky. The big six foot eleven Rauch attended Morehead State University, the same school the great Football New York Giant Quarterback Phil Simms attended. He was originally signed by the Chicago White Sox in the third round of the 1999 draft.

In 2000 he pitched for the US Olympic Team at Sydney Australia. That same year he was voted the Sporting News Minor League Player of the year. In 2002 he made the White Sox out of Spring Training getting his MLB debut against the Seattle Mariners pitching the 7th inning in relief. On April 21st he was roughed up by the Detroit Tigers allowing eight runs in just four innings of work. He was sent down to the minors but returned in September. In eight games he allowed seven HRs that season.

He spent all of 2003 at AAA Charlotte, as well as most of 2004. That year he went 7-1 striking out 94 batters getting him back to the big leagues. He was traded to the Montreal Expos for Carl Everett and went 3-0 there with a 1.54 ERA. He moved with the franchise to Washington D.C. in 2004 and would get credit for the teams first win at Nationals Park in D.C. He would be a solid reliever in the Nationals bullpen for the next four seasons.

In 2007 he led the NL in games finished with 88, going 8-8 with a 3.61 ERA striking out 71 batters in 87 innings. In 2008 he was given the Nats closing job after Chad Codero went down with injury, saving 17 games while going 4-2 with a 2.98 ERA in 48 games. On August 28th he was traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Emilio Bonifacio. In Arizona he was terrible going 0-6 with a 6.56 ERA for the second place D-backs.

In 2009 he was traded to the Minnesota Twins where he reached his first post season. He went 5-1 with a 1.72 ERA in just 17 games for the Twins. He made three appearances in that post season pitching 1.1 innings of relief work.

In 2010 the Twins won another AL Central title, Rauch was the teams closer, after the departure of Joe Nathan. He saved 21 games, until Matt Capps arrived to take over the role. Rauch went 3-1 finishing up 41 games in 59 appearances. In January he signed on with the Toronto Blue Jays and went 5-4 with 11 saves in the 2011 season.

In 2012 he signed a deal with the New York Mets. The big tattooed guy debuted as a Met on Opening Day earning a hold in the Mets 1-0 win. After getting another hold, he earned his first win on April 9th against his old Washington team mates. In that game Daniel Murphy singled home the game winning run in the 9th inning. In the final week of the month he earned two more wins & found himself at 3-0 with two holds posting a 0.00 ERA on April 25th.

Things went sour in May as he blew two leads & took four losses on the month, seeing his ERA climb over four. In June he allowed three runs including a walk off game loser to Russel Martin in the subway series sweep across town on that Sunday night June 10th.

Later in the month the Mets blew a three run lead in the subway series at Citi Field, then in the 7th inning Rauch served up an Eric Chavez HR, in what turned out to be the game winning run. After a good first half the Mets floundered in the second half of the season. Rauch was credited with three holds in July as well as four more in August. That month he also earned a pair of saves, when he had to bail out Frank Francisco both times.

On August 12th, Francisco had a 6-1 lead in the 9th inning, but the Braves came back to score four runs before Rauch struck out Justin Heyward to end the game, with a 6-5 Mets win.

Rauch came back four days later in Cincinnati, earning another save after Francisco gave up three 9th inning runs to the Reds. He struck out Wilson Valdez to end the game with two runners on base. He earned one more save on September 22nd, coming against the Miami Marlins.

In 2012 for the Mets he was 3-7 with four saves & 16 holds, posting a 3.59 ERA in 73 appearances (second on the Mets staff). He had 42 strike outs with 12 walks & seven HRs served up in 57.2 innings.

Trivia: Keith Hernandez referred to Rauch as "The Wookiee" during SNY broadcasts in 2006. After having been informed by colleagues Ron Darling and Gary Cohen that he'd shaved off his somewhat unkempt hair, Hernandez began referring to him as "The Shaven Wookiee."

In 2013 he signed with the Miami Marlins, but went 1-2 with a 7.56 ERA in 15 games & was released. In June he was signed by the Baltimore Orioles & pitched for their AAA Norfolk Tides going 1-0 in ten games. In 2014 he was signed but released by the Kansas City Royals.

In his eleven year career, Rauch is 43-40 with 62 saves, 475 strike outs & 179 walks in 595 innings in 556 games with a 3.90 ERA.

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