It is really, really difficult to get starts in the major leagues. Those spots are given to the best pitchers on the staff; the guys who have a full repertoire of pitches, who can hopefully go deep into games. The Valley League has produced very few of these pitchers over the last decade or so.

Chad Kuhl (New Market 2012) is one; he’s started 61 games in the majors for the Pirates since his debut in 2016. (By the way, Kuhl has been out for a while with a “forearm strain.” The latest news is that he’s about to start a throwing program, hopefully to rejoin the Bucs in September.) Ryan Yarbrough (Luray 2012) has started 5 games for the Rays this year, but you could certainly make the case that he’s nominally a starter most of his appearances, since the Rays use their interesting “opener” game plan pretty often- starting a reliever and then replacing him with a starter, like Ryan. He’s averaging nearly 4 innings pitched per appearance.

Austin Gomber (Luray 2012- Yarbrough’s teammate) was initially called up to the St. Louis Cardinals to be a long reliever; his first 15 appearances in the majors were out of the bullpen. But he made his first start against the Reds on July 24th (the no-hitter broken up, in order, by the alarm system and then the Reds), and has started in three straight appearances here in August.

Last night against the Washington Nationals was the latest good start for Gomber. Over 6 innings and 99 pitches, he allowed only 3 hits, 0 runs, 4 walks, and struck out 6. He is now 3-0, 2.89, with a 1.286 WHIP, 4.6 BB/9, and 7.7 K/9 over 37 1/3 innings. While the walk rate may be a little bit high, he has definitely earned the opportunity to stay in the rotation for the surging Cards.

As an added bonus, Gomber faced another former Luray Wrangler in the game- the Nats’ Daniel Murphy, who played in the Valley in 2004 and 2005. Gomber induced a ground out the first time they faced each other, and walked Murphy the second.

Well done, Austin!

Austin Gomber Glendale