Meet The Giants - Brett Tomko

Cincinnati to Seattle… San Diego to St. Louis… San Francisco. At this level in the game, maintaining any amount of consistency from one start to the next is difficult. Sustaining that consistency over the course of a season is nearly impossible. Sustaining that consistency over the course of eight big league seasons...well now I'm just crazy, things like that just don't happen. Or do they?

When veteran right-hander Brent Tomko joined the Giants pitching staff last season he brought his “game” with him, just as he had done with every other team he had pitched for.

His “game” of consistency.

No other pitcher has been able to maintain the level of consistency that Tomko has.

*He has surpassed 200+-inning barrier three times, including two of last three season and only missed doing it again by six frames in 2004.

* He has recorded at least 10 victories in five of eight seasons, which also includes a pair of 13-win and 11-win efforts.

*Traditionally, he has been more productive during second half of the campaign. Over the last two seasons, he has posted a 15-5 win-loss record.

Brett Tomko, Cincinnati's second round pick in the 1995 draft, was born in the Cleveland suburb of Euclid on April 7th. Tomko attended Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. After only one season, Tomko was named NCAA Division II National Player of Year after going 15-2 with a 1.35 earned run average and fanning 154 in 126 innings. He was also named Most Outstanding Player of the Division II World Series when the hurler tossed 19 scoreless innings over three appearances.

He made his professional debut in 1995 and was named the South Atlantic League’s Howe SportsData Pitcher of the Week for July 24—30. By season’s end, he was rated as one of the top five prospects in the Reds’ organization by Baseball America. By the end of 1996 season, his first professional season, he was billed as the Reds’ top prospect by Baseball America.

Tomko opened the 1997 season in triple A Indianapolis but was recalled by the Reds on May 24 and made his big league debut three days later. He lost to Curt Schilling and the Phillies 2-1 at Riverfront Stadium. In the June 6th game versus the New York Mets, he earned first win and collected his first big league hit and run batted in. He went 11-7 and tied for seventh in the National League Rookie of the Year voting for that year.

In 1998, Tomko’s first full season in the majors, he led the Reds in starts, innings pitched, and strikeouts. He finished with a 13-12 record. With his 13 victories, Tomko became the first Cincinnati hurler since Art Fowler (1954-1955) to win at least 11 games in his first two seasons.

In 1999, Tomko made his first career Opening Day start in what would be his final year in a Reds uniform. Following the season, he would be a footnote in history. He was the essential player in the blockbuster deal that brought Ken Griffey, Jr. from Seattle to Cincinnati.

In Tomko’s first season with Mariners he posted a 7-5 mark (3-3 in relief) and registered his first career save versus the Chicago White Sox. He pitched in the post season for the first time in his career making five appearances. In 2001, he once again became a footnote in Seattle Mariner history. He was the winning pitcher in the October 4th game versus the Texas Rangers. With the victory, the Mariners tied the 1998 New York Yankees' American League record with its 114th regular season win.

In 2002, Tomko returned to the Senior Circuit, this time with the San Diego Padres. He went 10-10 and led the Padres staff in starts and complete games. He was second on the staff in victories, innings pitched and strikeouts. In 2003, while pitching for the St. Louis Cardinals, he matched his career high in victories going 13-9. Once again he proved to be most effective during the second half of the season, posting an 8-3 mark after the All-Star Break. He registered his 50th career victory with 7-5 triumph over the Milwaukee Brewers April 14th.

In his first season with the Giants, Tomko finished second on the staff in wins (reaching double digits for the fifth time), innings pitched, strikeouts, and winning percentage. He ranked third on the staff in starts. Tomko recorded his first victory as a Giant on April 28 versus the Atlanta Braves. Again, Tomko proved to be a strong second half pitcher and was the sixth winningest pitcher in the National League following All-Star break.

With a pitching arsenal that includes an explosive fastball, slider, changeup and curve, Tomko is the complete package. He owns a lifetime record of 73-58. The workhorse is an innings eater and he has pitched at least six innings in 123 (out of 186) career starts. He has limited opponents to three earned runs or less in 115 of his 186 lifetime starts. Early in his career he was prone to give up the long ball, but with maturity, that number has steadily dropped.

History has shown that he is a better second half pitcher than the first, and that he comes back stronger after an injury. One has to wonder just how devastating Tomko can truly be if he puts it all together (a strong first half that matches his second half and an injury free season). It has yet to be seen, and time will tell if it ever will. What has been seen however, is that in eight years, no pitcher in baseball has been as consistent has Brett Tomko.

If Brett Tomko and Jason Schmidt can manage to stay healthy for an entire season, the Giants might very well have the best 1-2 starters in all of Major League Baseball.

Wendy J Sotos is a Cleveland based writer who loves nothing more than a Jim Thome blast and an Omar Vizquel barehanded scoop. Both of which, she believes, will be Hall of Famers when their playing days are over.

Wendy can be reached at: designatedwriter@yahoo. com

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