It was twenty-two months ago when the Dodgers traded for Bud Norris to replace Clayton Kershaw in the rotation. It seemed laughable at the time given we were talking about Bud Norris, but Bud had a bit of a comeback season going on in Atlanta and had just thrown seven innings of shutout ball in his last start for the Braves.
The Dodgers acquired Norris at the end of June, and he made his first start on July 1st and threw six innings of shutout ball against the Rockies. Norris would go onto make nine starts for the Dodgers, of which two (including the first one) could have been construed as successful. That wasn’t what the Dodgers needed and he ended up in the bullpen and did not pitch in the 2016 postseason.
The following season, Bud couldn’t find employment until Feb 1st, when the Angels signed him to major league pittance of $1.75 million. Bud Norris was a bit of a savior for the Angels as all their current and future closers fell by the wayside, and on April 22nd, Bud Norris notched the first of nineteen saves for the Angels. He was lights out for the Angels in April/May/June posting OPS against of .492 / .624 / .658. That all came to a halt in July and August where he was tattooed with an OPS against of .921 / .960.
Overall, Bud Norris appeared in 60 games, it was the first time in his career that he spent almost all of it as a relief pitcher. He had enough success that you would have thought he could get a major league contract.
Bud had to wait this year until Feb 14th to get his major league contract. Luckily for the Cardinals, they reached out and brought him into their bullpen for $3 Million. Bud Norris has helped save the Cardinal season. Going into the season, they were expected to use Luke Gregerson as the closer. Luke had 66 career saves but was coming off his worst season for the World Champion Astros. Gregerson was not healthy so the Cardinals signed Greg Holland to be the closer on March 31st. They gave Holland a one year $14 Million dollar deal to be the closer for 2018. Since they cut it close Holland was not going to ready to start the year as the closer so they turned to Dominic Leone. Leone blew a save and lost the game in his second appearance. In his fifth appearance on April 8th he lost another game. On April 9th the Cardinals panicked and activated Holland who promptly gave up four runs and lost the game.
The Cardinal bullpen was hemorrhaging and you know who staunched the bleeding?
Bud Norris. Bud Norris has six saves. Bud Norris has zero blown saves. Bud Norris has struck out twenty-two batters in only fifteen innings with only two walks, fifteen hits, and three earned runs. He has three one-run saves. He has a FIP of 1.75. Bud Norris has been one of the top ten relief pitchers in the National League and it isn’t a mirage. His underlying numbers back it all up.
|Carl Edwards Jr.||0.7||13.2||15.15||3.29||0.66||0.89||2.39|
This was a guy anyone could have had as late as February 1st, 2018. Anyone. The Cardinals signed him. The twenty Dodger analytics and the enlightened Dodger front office wanted this guy once for a different purpose when he replaced Kershaw. Too bad they couldn’t have seen how a repurposed Bud Norris is now just another failed starter making his mark as a dominant relief pitcher.
It may not last, he wore out last year, but it is also possible that with a full season of relief outings under his belt, Bud Norris is coming into his own.