Needing bullpen help to take the place of Jake Diekman, who is lost for at least the first three months of the 2017 season due to ulcerative colitis surgery, the Rangers traded for right-handed knuckleballer Eddie Gamboa, who had been designated for assignment by Tampa Bay, for a player to be named later or cash (or both, if that player to be named later is named Cash).
Gamboa is a thirty-two-year old righty who had Tommy John surgery ten years ago and who, like so many pitchers attempt to do when they are seeing a premature end of their careers, found salvation in the knuckleball, the pitch that floats to the plate so slowly a batter could do his taxes and get his refund check in the mail by the time the pitch gets to the plate.
He was a September call-up who made it into seven games for the Rays in 2016, logging 13.1 innings. While he was 0-2, he did have a nice 1.35 ERA, but walked eight batters in those 13.1 innings. Such is the life of the knuckleball. Once it leave the hand, it drifts through life like a Millennial on a trust fund, never knowing where it is going to end up and not real welcome once it gets there.
Gamboa was a .500 pitcher, mostly in the Orioles organization. It took him ten years to make it to the major leagues. Like his pitch, he was in no hurry to get where he was going.
Gamboa is a good gamble. He could turn out to be this year’s Tony Barnette, who was an absolute steal. Of course, he could also turn out to be a Tom Wilhelmsen. Relief pitchers are fickle.
This one throws the mist fickle of all pitches.
Welcome to Arlington, Eddie. Hope that pitch works in the 110-degree heat.