This post first appeared on BaseballDigest.com
In the second of three profiles that cover some of the Ghosts of Rays Pitching Past, I draw your attention to an old friend..
Casey Fossum was a reliable pitcher who was relatively low on the depth chart for the Red Sox during his stint from 2001-2003. He was a decent option out of the bullpen and the occasional start. He peaked in 2002, where he held his own against the AL East opponents and in particular the New York Yankees. In a starting role and relief role, he was able to shut down the Yankees more often than not. Unfortunately for Fossum, it appeared opponents had figured him out and following the 2003 season was packaged with several other players in the trade that would effectively help change the course of Red Sox history. I’m talking about the November 2003 trade that brought Curt Schilling to Boston.
Fossum struggled as he recovered from shoulder surgery in 2004, alternating terrific starts with equally horrific displays of pitching. As luck would have it, the Diamondbacks faced the AL East during the 2004 season. Fossum pitched brilliantly against the Orioles, and was smacked around by the Yankees in his next turn. Before the beginning of the 2005 season, he was shipped off to Tampa Bay for Jose Cruz Jr. In his return to the American League, Fossum proved himself early and earned the chance to be a good back-of-the-rotation-option for the Rays by mid-May. At the same time, Hideo Nomo was sliding out of Major League view.
Fossum began his own slide in 2006, as he struggled to have steady success that would keep a hold on his spot in the rotation. Other than a brief trip to the Disabled list, Fossum started the entire season until a shoulder injury sidelined him at the end of August. The apex of his decline came in 2007 when he lost his spot in the rotation by the end of May. He lost his spot on the roster by mid-August, when he couldn’t put together more than a few appearances in a row without imploding in some way. He caught on with San Diego’s triple A club, but was pounded in 2 starts to the tune of 12 runs on 26 hits and 7 walks in less than 13 innings.
The Detroit Tigers took a flyer on Fossum in 2008, and after great success at the triple A level brought him up to the big club. As the Tigers slid further away from postseason hopes, Fossum saw more action. Like his time in Tampa Bay, he had trouble with consistency. His longest stretch of scoreless appearances was 5 games in July of that year.
He’s starting the 2009 season in the Mets minor league system, as his spring training numbers of 8 runs on 16 hits in just 11 innings left a lot to be desired by a club starving for quality pitching.
As the Sox face perennial Red Sox Killer Scott Kazmir, they may need the Ghost of A Not-So-Good Left Handed Pitcher to help them extend the hopes of a 162-0 season.