He was once the player to be named in a deal for Tiger Craig Monroe. Monroe, who had one of the best postseasons in baseball history (something never said before about Alex Rodriguez) found himself elbowed out of a 2007 Tigers lineup that would end up flaming out. Replacing a rather popular Tigers outfielder is never easy, but when you’re a pitcher in this town, you better bring your A-game every night.
For roughly two seasons, Clay Rapada was the lefty bullpen answer along with Bobby Seay. Now, Rapada’s career has been rejuvenated in one of the least-friendly pitcher’s parks around, and it just might be good enough for a World Series crown.
Rapada was not by any stretch a bad player for the Tigers. I look at players like Tim Byrdak or Troy Percival who found greater success in their post-Detroit years and wonder what this city did to their careers. Leyland utilizes relievers in spot positions (see games versus the Twins) and anytime you can get a southpaw to throw from a side arm slot, you’ve got it made. His loss was definitely felt as the Tigers made a playoff push in 2009 as his game was not as sharp.
Now, look at a Rangers team just one win away from a World Series. Their relieving corps is not considered one of the best around, but they have enough working pieces that have the ability to catch fire from time to time.
Look at Darren Oliver. Oliver is a 40-year old lefty who recently found success in his career on the oft-winning Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Patched together with players like Darren O’Day and Derek Holland, the Rangers pitching staff has parlayed timely hitting from some of their sluggers into pitching momentum. With the team just five wins away from the team’s first World Series crown, it may take incredible performances by pitchers like Rapada for the Rangers to realize their goal.