Mount Rushmore of White Sox middle relief: Jesse Crain
Jesse Crain made seven starts in his professional baseball career, all in the minor leagues and all on rehabilitation assignments where he was just going to pitch an inning and hand the ball over to the scheduled starter.
No, Crain came into pro ball as a reliever and he remained one for the duration.
He came to the Chicago White Sox in December 2010 as a free agent from the Minnesota Twins and spent a little more than 2½ seasons on the South Side. After being named to his lone career All-Star Game appearance in 2013, Crain went on the shelf with a shoulder strain and the Tampa Bay Rays picked him up near the non-waiver trade deadline for future considerations.
In December 2013, Crain signed with the Houston Astros, but didn’t pitch for them as his shoulder did not respond following biceps tenodesis surgery in the fall of 2013. He also battled rotator cuff inflammation.
He returned to the White Sox as a free agent in January 2015 and did make six rehab appearances with the club’s team in the Rookie-level Arizona League, but gave up five runs, four earned, in 5.1 innings. That was the end of his comeback attempts, but he refused to actually say the word “retirement.”
In three seasons with the White Sox, he saved only one game, but he was used primarily in the seventh and eighth innings in high-leverage situations. Of his 156 appearances, his average leverage index was 1.655. The scale attempts to measure the pressure of game situations with 1.000 being the average.
He had 53 holds for Chicago, allowing 30 percent (26-of-88) inherited runners to score. He had a 2.10 ERA and 1.167 WHIP in 150 innings, with per-nine-inning rates of 10.7 strikeouts and 3.9 walks.
Crain was a second-round pick by the Twins out of the University of Houston in 2002 and made his big-league debut in August 2004.