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Cubs unsung heroes: Glendon Rusch, June 2, 2005

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The lefty had one outstanding game as a Cub.

Photo by Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images

Glendon Rusch was a 17th-round pick of the Kansas City Royals in 1993.

Guys picked that low usually don’t make it to the big leagues (though ask David Bote, an 18th-round pick). But after Rusch had a 1.74 ERA and 0.869 WHIP in Advanced-A at age 20 in 1995, the Royals fast-tracked him to the big leagues. He was in K.C.’s rotation by 1997, and this was probably not a good idea.

Overmatched, he was traded to the Mets, then the Brewers. He had an awful year in 2003 for Milwaukee, was let go and picked up by Texas but was released by the Rangers at the end of spring training in 2004.

The Cubs were looking for a swingman, so they signed him. After making four starts for Triple-A Iowa, Rusch joined the Cubs and actually had a pretty good year in 2004. He made 32 appearances (16 starts) and posted a 3.47 ERA and 1.234 WHIP. It was good for 3.1 bWAR, by far his best season in the big leagues.

Rusch was a free agent after 2004, but the Cubs brought him back. 2005 was... not so good. But on June 2, 2005 against the Padres in San Diego, Rusch threw what was not only his best game as a Cub, but perhaps the best game of his career.

He threw a four-hit shutout with seven strikeouts against a pretty good Padres team (they would win the N.L. West with a mediocre 82-80 record).

Here is Rusch ending the third inning of that game with a strikeout of current Dodgers manager Dave Roberts [VIDEO].

Rusch finished 2005 with a 4.52 ERA and 1.569 WHIP. He was even worse in 2006 — 7.46 ERA, 1.794 WHIP — and as it turned out, Rusch had been pitching with a potentially life-threatening blood clot in his lung. From the Tribune on September 14, 2006:

The Cubs evaluated Rusch on Tuesday night and sent him to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism.

Rusch was in no immediate danger, but the incident was frightening nevertheless.

“Is it life-threatening, yes,” trainer Mark O’Neal said. “It was caught early, and we’re very thankful we didn’t sit on it and that he was evaluated.”

O’Neal said Rusch will be hospitalized for two or three days and will be treated with blood thinning medication for the next three to six months.

He didn’t pitch after early September and the Cubs let him go.

Rusch came back and pitched briefly for the Padres and Rockies in 2008 and 2009. Since 2015 he’s been the pitching coach for the Padres’ affiliate in the Advanced-A California League, the Lake Elsinore Storm.