He only throws an 85 mile-per-hour fastball. He looks exhausted and near death after pitching five innings or batting twice. His ears are bigger than any aggregation of muscle. And he just suffered through one of his worst campaigns in his career, finishing 9-12 with a 4.78 ERA, fighting a nagging hernia for much of the season.
But after Rueters arrival in 1996, his winning percentage of .585 is second only to the great Juan Marichal. And the Giants are 159-100 in his 259 starts for the team. He has made the second most starts by a left-hander in the franchises century-spanning history.
He is winner, though many doubted it last year after his performance continued to falter. But Rueter enjoyed one of his classic outings during the final week of the season, when the Giants needed him most. For the must-win Friday night game at a teeming Chavez Ravine, he gave up three hits over seven innings, keeping the season alive.
The 34 year old has been pitching in the Show since 1993. In his rookie year, he recorded an 8-0 record, and the winning has continued for more than a decade, including a 16-9 campaign in 98 and 14-8 showing in 2002, when his ERA dipped to 3.23.
His success is predicated on precision, and any outside interference, from injury to adrenaline, can cause his ball rise, flatten, and fluctuate in velocity, all of which disrupt his natural sinking action.
But with Matheny behind the dish, with a magnanimous starting rotation, with a healthy and contemplative offseason under his belt, and with the consummate professionalism that has defined his success, he is poised to start a new streak of ten-win seasons, to perform as the Giants second starter and lead the team back to the playoffs.
Think about it. An orange and black World Series ring would be just the thing to punctuate the illustrious career of Kirk Rueter in the city by the Bay.
Tim Denevi is a raving Giants fan who can’t decide if he would
Mike Aldrete or Marvin Biz-nard pinch-hitting with the game on the
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