Chicago Cubs: Undervalued career of Rick Reuschel

(Photo by SPX/Ron Vesely Photography via Getty Images)
(Photo by SPX/Ron Vesely Photography via Getty Images) /

A dominating pitcher on the mound, Rick Reuschel spent over a decade creating his legacy, which included tenure with the Chicago Cubs.

Growing up in Qunicy, Illinois, Chicago Cubs’ right-hander Rick Reuschel was a bit taller than the rest as he stood 6’4 and weighed 225. Reuschel had the physique of a workhorse who can command the mound every time he pitched.

As the ’60s were ending, the careers of legendary Cubs Ernie Banks, Ron Santo were trailing to an end, Reuschel’s career was just getting started, as he spent only two seasons in minors before the Cubs called him up to the big leagues. The Cubs drafted the 6’4 righty in the third round of the 1970 draft.

At the time, the 23-year-old Reuschel launched his career in the Windy City, with a 10-8 record. In the 21 games, he pitched, started in 18 of them Reuschel held a 2.93 ERA. Out of the 129 innings, he recorded five complete games, included four shutouts. By the time he finished his fifth year with the ball club, Reuschel had held a 62-64 record with 35 full games and 11 shutouts and struck out 716 batters while only hitting 28 batters.

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The best season of Reuschel’s career came in 1977, where he went on to win a career-high 20 games. He was named to the all-star team that year, and this would be the only time he becomes an All-Star as a member of the team. In the same year, Reuschel would finish third in the Cy Young Award race behind Steve Carlton of Philadelphia Phillies and Tommy John of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Reuschel ended his first stint with the Cubs in 1981 when the Cubs traded him to the New York Yankees. Although his time with the Yankees was short, it only lasted a year in which he only managed a 4-4 record. The Yankees released him only a few months in the season, but the Cubs wanted more of him, so they signed him on June 28th. At this point, his career in Chicago was about to end as he would play the final two seasons with the Cubs.

At the end of his 12-year journey with the team, Reuschel compiled a record 135-127. His ability to go the distance led him to earn 65 complete games which 17 of them were shutouts. In franchise history, Reuschel ranks in the top 15 for wins with 135. He also is tied for 8th with Mordecai Brown for his 1977 single-season 9.5 WAR rating.

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As you can tell, many of us would consider him to be one of the greatest pitchers in team history. With names like Fergie Jenkins, Brown, Hippo Vaughn, and others, Reuschel adds fuel to the list as he made a name for himself over his 12 years with the club. His stamina to go the full nine innings is what defined his career and legacy with the team. He established a new way of pitching throughout the ’70s.