For former Major League starter Brandon Beachy, finding a way back to his former self has been a long and winding road, but one that he’s not quite ready to put in the rearview mirror.
In 2011, Beachy made 25 starts with the Braves, went 7-3 with a 3.68 ERA and struck out 169 batters in 141 2/3 innings. Now, two Tommy John surgeries and some bad luck later, Beachy finds himself pitching for the Ducks, looking for one more last chance.
Baseball players — particularly those who venture into the independent ranks — are loath to call it a career. So, despite missing six weeks with a calf injury earlier this year, only to come back and experience what he called the worst statistical stretch of his entire career before being released by the Giants on July 26, Beachy isn’t ready to call it quits.
“I’m not ready to give it up,” the righthander said. “I still feel that I was on the verge of figuring things out and getting the results I wanted to see. Then [the Giants] let me go and I just couldn’t walk away from the game yet.”
Beachy, 32, quickly found a willing suitor in Wally Backman. The Ducks manager needed pitching help, had managed Beachy in New Britain last season, and welcomed him with open arms on Aug. 5. In his first three starts for the Ducks, Beachy went 2-0 with a 4.73 ERA. He struck out 16 and walked four in 13 1/3 innings.
“I want to dominate and get out of here and go somewhere else,” said Beachy, who played parts of four seasons for the Braves and made two starts for the Dodgers in 2015. “I think that’s every guy’s goal in this locker room is to get back to affiliated ball and try to get back to the big leagues. While I’m here, I’m going to try and put up as many zeros as I can and help us win as many games as possible.”
If Beachy isn’t picked up in the next month, he’ll be a major piece of the Ducks’ drive for a championship. The franchise hasn’t won one since 2013 and will have yet another shot at updating their trophy case this fall by virtue of their first half championship. The playoffs are scheduled to begin on Sept. 24.
“If I’m still here come playoff time, I’m going to try and win a championship,” Beachy said. “It doesn’t matter whether I’m playing in Little League, the big leagues, or independent ball, we all want to win.”
Beachy’s post-2011 career has been a cavalcade of fits and starts. He had Tommy John surgery in 2012 and 2014, an exercise in frustration and patience.
“The first time, everything felt normal until it didn’t,” Beachy said. “The second time, it was just kind of starting from scratch and just trying to piece together mechanics that would keep me healthy.”
Beachy continued: “I think I just came back too quick. Some guys can come back in 12 months and some guys, it takes longer. I think I was one of those guys who would have benefited [from more time]. It couldn’t have hurt to go a little slower, but it felt good. Everything felt good all along the process. Then about a month back, it just kind of gave out on me again.”
While Beachy doesn’t think he’ll ever throw as hard as he did in 2011, when he was clocking in the mid-90s, he still thinks he can get big league hitters out.
“I’m not going to run it up to 94-95, probably,” he said. “But, I don’t think I need to. If I’m hitting spots and mixing speeds, I think I have the tools to be every bit as successful.”
Melville to MLB . . . again
Another week, another former-Duck back in the majors, and with pretty good results too. Tim Melville, who made two starts for the Ducks earlier this season and nine starts for them in 2017, started for the Rockies on Wednesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks. Melville earned the win in a 7-2 Colorado triumph and allowed one run and two hits in seven innings. He struck out four and walked two.
Melville is among 20 players to reach the majors after playing for the Ducks. He is the third one this year and the second in a one-week period. Reliever Fernando Abad, who pitched for the Ducks last season, was called up by the Giants on Aug. 15 and catcher Wilkin Castillo, who also played for the Ducks last season, was called up by the Marlins in June.
Melville was virtually untouchable with the Ducks this season. He went 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in two starts. Melville allowed one run, seven hits, and struck out 13 in 12 innings before his contract was purchased by the Rockies on May 3 and he was sent to the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
It was the second time Melville made it back to the bigs following a Ducks stint. After playing for the Ducks in 2017, Melville was called up by the Twins and made one start. After being waived by the Twins that season, he was picked up by the Padres and appeared in two games.
Melville debuted with the Reds in 2016 and pitched to an 11.00 ERA in three appearances (two starts).