HOUSTON, TX - The Houston Astros have agreed to terms on a one-year contract with free agent right-handed pitcher Jesse Crain, General Manager Jeff Luhnow announced today. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Crain, an American League All-Star in 2013, posted an 0.74 ERA in 37 relief appearances (3ER/36.2IP) for the White Sox with 11 walks and 46 strikeouts in 36.2 innings pitched for an 11.29 SO/9IP ratio. Other highlights from 2013 included holding right-handed hitters to a .174 average (12x69), no home runs allowed and a streak of 29 consecutive scoreless appearances from April 17 through June 22. Crain's season ended prematurely due to a right shoulder strain. The White Sox traded Crain to TB on July 29, but he did not appear in a game for the Rays.
Since 2011, Crain has been one of the top relievers in the Majors, posting a 2.10 ERA (35ER/150IP) in that span, which ranks tied for fourth in the AL. He also ranks tied for fourth in the AL with a .187 opponents average vs. right-handed hitters in that span. Additionally, his 10.56 SO/9IP ratio since 2011 ranks sixth in the AL (176 SO in 150.0 IP), while his 53 holds rank eighth in the AL in that time frame. Crain has recorded career lows in ERA in each of the past three seasons (2.62, 2.44 and 0.74, respectively).
"Jesse Crain is a proven, quality reliever that will help us win games in 2014," Luhnow said. "We targeted him early in the offseason and are excited to bring him on board."
In his 10 ML seasons pitching for the Twins (2004-10) and White Sox (2011-13), Crain has posted a 45-30 record in 532 appearances (all in relief) with a 3.05 ERA (180ER/532IP) and four saves with a .229 opponents average. His 45 wins in relief since his ML debut in 2004 are tied with Chad Qualls for tops in the Majors in that span. Crain also holds the distinction of having the lowest career ERA in ML history vs. the Texas Rangers (min. 20.0 IP), posting a 0.00 ERA (29IP) in 25 appearances vs. them with a .141 opponents average (4-1 record).
Prior to his professional career, Crain starred at both San Jacinto Junior College in Houston and at the University of Houston, earning all-conference honors at both schools. After being selected by Minnesota in the second round of the 2002 June Draft, Crain made his ML debut on August 5, 2004 vs. the Angels.