All-Time Indians: Greg Swindell

Name: Forest Gregory Swindell     Position: Starting Pitcher
Tribe Time: 1986-1991         Number: 21  
Accolades: 1989 All-Star DOB: 01/02/1965
Stats W L W% ERA G GS CG SO IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP K/9 BAA
Best Season (1988) 18 14 0.563 3.20 33 33 12 4 242.0 234 86 18 45 180 1.15 6.7 .244
Career 61 56 0.521 3.86 166 154 32 7 1,071.2 1,090 460 117 234 777 1.24 6.5 .253

The Cleveland Indians in the late 1980's were one of the most disappointing teams in club history, but even they had some bright spots and one was staff ace, Greg Swindell. Swindell was the second overall draft pick in 1986, was signed in July and made his first start in August. Going from the University of Texas to the Major Leagues with just a three game stop in single A didn't slow Swindell down at all as he finished his first season with a record of 5-2 and an ERA of 4.23.

In 1988, Swindell was named staff ace, taking over for Tom Candiotti, giving the Indians a pretty good starting rotation overall, featuring those two as well as John Farrell, Rich Yett and Scott Bailes. This helped the team to a 17 game turnaround from 1987, although they still finished in the basement of the AL East. Swindell maintained his Ace role from that season through 1991, although he never had quite the effectiveness.

As is often the case, Swindell got credit for his 1988 season the next year, when he was invited to the All-Star game, where he pitched a scoreless inning. As an Indian, despite starting just four full seasons in his prime, Swindell is one of 37 players ever to win at least 60 games as well as holding a very impressive 3.86 ERA considering the era he played in. A great control pitcher his whole career, he lead the league in 1991 with a 1.2 BB/9.

Entering into his final year of arbitration with the Indians wanting to get some value out a their ace (and looking at no chance at the play-offs in 1992), the Tribe traded Swindell to the Cincinnati Reds for Joe Turek, Jack Armstrong and Scott Scudder. None of those players really panned out, but Swindell had his best season ever for the Reds (2.70 ERA in 213.2 IP) and earned a hefty salary in free agency with the Houston Astros. The return for their money wasn't very great as Swindell played worse for the Astros than any other team he played for, before or after. In 96 games, he held an ERA of 4.48 and had a losing record. 

His struggles allowed him early release from his contract, allowing him to re-sign with the Indians in the summer of 1996. He struggled there as well, used as a reliever during the regular season. He was not good enough to be included on the play-off roster that year and he was released at the end of the season, ending his career with the Indians.

Things did turn around for Swindell, who finally won a World Series ring in 2001 with the Arizona Diamondbacks after two years with the Twins. At the age of 36 he made it to the post-season for just the second time (the first was against the Indians with Boston in 1998) and still had the ability to perform. By that point in his career he was exclusively a reliever and allowed just a single run in seven games, including 2.2 one hit innings against the Yankees in the World Series itself. He retired after the following season at the age of 37.

Since retiring, Swindell has bounced between jobs, working as the head coach for the Texas Longhorns long enough to win the College World Series, staying involved with his Alma Mater through 2008. Since then he has worked as a color commentator for the Diamondbacks and now, the Texas Longhorns.

Joseph Coblitz

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona the Spring Training home of the Cleveland Indians.

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