So it doesn’t look Barry Zito will make a last start, unless Oakland decides to give him one late in the season. While this looks bad on paper, it really is the right decision. Barry Zito has only thrown one inning in the past 6 weeks, so having him try and start a game and throw 6 or 7 innings probably wouldn’t make for the smartest decision.
It’s been a long, painful season for the Oakland A’s. After backing into the playoffs last year, Billy Beane made several adjustments, most notably trading third baseman Josh Donaldson to Toronto. Brett Lawrie, whom the A’s acquired in the deal, has had a solid season, but Josh Donaldson is looking more and more like an MVP lock.
Despite the disastrous campaign, though, there’s going to be a feel-good moment and some silver lining for Oakland. Wednesday afternoon, the A’s recalled 2002 Cy Young winner Barry Zito, who is almost surely going to be making his final appearance in the big leagues. Zito was a member of the A’s from 2000 until 2006, winning 102 games with a 3.55 ERA. He also won the 2002 Cy Young and was named to three All-Star teams. Zito, Mark Mulder, and Tim Hudson were generally regarded as the best top-three in baseball year in and year out. After the 2006 season, though, Zito signed with the San Francisco Giants for a whopping $126 million over seven years, the highest contract in MLB history for a pitcher at the time.
In San Francisco, though, Zito struggled. He never could find the magic he had in Oakland, and posted only one winning season, in 2012. That 2012 season was memorable for Zito as he won his first and only World Series title. Once his contract expired, Zito took the 2014 season off before re-signing with the A’s in 2015 on a minor-league deal. Zito attempted to make the team out of spring training, but instead was assigned to Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate in Nashville, where he was lauded for being a leader and for his commitment and dedication to the team. On September 1, Zito announced the A’s wouldn’t be calling him up despite it being likely his final season.
Today, though, that changed. With 17 games remaining in the season, Zito will likely get one final MLB start to close out a marvelous career. It gets better though. His final start is likely to be against a pitcher with whom he is very familiar.
— Bob Nightengale (@BNightengale) September 16, 2015
Hudson and Zito were close friends and teammates before Hudson was dealt to Atlanta prior to the 2005 season, so the fact that Zito gets to deal against one of his close friends to close the season is some kind of feel-good moment to end a career.