Kendall Graveman

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Kendall Chase Graveman

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Biographical Information[edit]

Pitcher Kendall Graveman made his major league debut a little over a year after being an 8th-round selection by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 2013 amateur draft. He played in the 2013 College World Series with Mississippi State University.

After signing with the Blue Jays, he made 10 starts for the Lansing Lugnuts of the Midwest League in 2013, going 1-3, 4.31 and pitching 39 2/3 innings. He started 2014 back at Lansing, making 4 starts with a 2-0 record and an ERA of 0.34; promoted to the Dunedin Blue Jays of the Florida State League, he went 8-4, 2.23 in 16 starts and moved up again at the end of July, to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats of the Eastern League. He made one start for New Hampshire, winning the game, and was promoted again, this time to AA and the Buffalo Bisons of the International League where he continued to pitch well, going 3-2, 1.88 in 6 starts in August. Altogether, his combined record was 14-6, 1.83 in 27 starts, with 167 1/3 innings pitched and a K/W ratio of 115/31.

Kendall was called up to Toronto in early September and made his debut on September 5th, in a game against the Boston Red Sox. He was called in to start the bottom of the 8th after the Jays had taken a 4-2 lead in the top of the inning. However, he allowed a single to the first batter he faced, Yoenis Cespedes, and immediately gave way to lefty Aaron Loup; Cespedes ended up scoring, as did two other runs, giving him an infinite ERA after his first major league appearance. In a statistical twist, his predecessor on the mound for the Jays had been Daniel Norris, who also made his debut by facing a single batter, although things had gone better for him as he had struck out David Ortiz to end the 7th. In five games with the Jays, he had no decisions and a 3.86 ERA in 4 2/3 innings.

On November 28, 2014, Kendall was traded to the Oakland Athletics, alongside Brett Lawrie, Sean Nolin and Franklin Barreto, in return for 3B Josh Donaldson. While he was far from the most prominent name in the trade, he was very impressive with the A's in spring training in 2015, forcing them to consider him for a slot in the starting rotation. He was successful in landing that gig, but in his first start on April 9th, he lasted only 3 1/3 innings in losing 10-1, to the Texas Rangers. His next start was much better, as he picked up his first career win with 5 1/3 scoreless innings against the Houston Astros, as the A's prevailed, 4-0. He made 21 starts for Oakland, with a record of 6-9, 4.05. In 2016, he was probably the team's most reliable starter in a rotation that was decimated by injuries. On August 19th, he pitched the best game of his career, a complete game two-hit shutout in which he faced only 28 batters, one more than the minimum. The A's beat the Chicago White Sox, 9-0. he finished the year at 10-11, 4.11 in 31 starts.

In 2017, Kendall missed a lot of time due to injuries but pitched pretty well when he was able to take the mound, ending up at 6-4, 4.19 in 19 games. That was enough to convince the A's to give the ball on Opening Day in 2018, their starting rotation having been depleted by injuries and departures (most notably, the trade of Sonny Gray in return for prospects the previous year). He gave up 5 runs in 5 inning facing the Los Angeles Angels on March 29th, ending up with a no-decision. However, he then proceeded to lose his next five starts and was 0-5, 8.89 on April 26th when the A's decided to send him down to the minor leagues. He was leading the major leagues in losses, runs allowed and hits allowed at the time. He was 2-1, 4.50 in 4 starts for Nashville but was bothered with elbow issues which ultimately led to his undergoing Tommy John surgery at the end of July. Following the season, he became a free agent, but was not in an ideal position to negotiate a deal given he would not be available until the very end of the season, if that. He did manage to find a team, though, as on December 22nd, he signed a three-year deal with the Chicago Cubs, who were willing to simply supervise his rehabilitation in 2019 in order to have him available to pitch the next two years. Indeed, he made only two appearances in the minor leagues that year, pitching 6 innings, but was released after the season, making him a free agent again.

Graveman then joined the Seattle Mariners for 2020, and the delayed start to the season meant he was ready to pitch for the big club when the regular season started at the end of July. After a couple of starts, both losses in which he gave up 9 runs in 8 2/3 innings, he was placed on the injured list with neck spasms. It turns out they were caused by a bone tumor in his spine. He would require surgery to fix this, but in the immediate was prepared to pitch through the pain. He returned to the mound on September 4th, and, undaunted, hit 99 mph on the radar gun coming out of the bullpen in relief of Yusei Kikuchi against the Texas Rangers. The plan was to use him as a reliever for the remainder of the season. He went 1-3, 5.79 in 11 games, logging 18 2/3 innings. In 2021, he was a full-time reliever and pitched very well, going 4-0, 0.82 with 10 saves over his first 30 games. On July 27th, he was traded to the Houston Astros along with another veteran pitcher, Rafael Montero, in return for young IF Abraham Toro and veteran P Joe Smith. It was not the typical deadline deal, as Montero had just been designated for assignment, and the Mariners were in fact in competition for a postseason slot and traded for a starting pitcher the same day. He went 1-1, 3.13 in 23 games after the trade to finish at 5-1, 1.77 with 10 saves in 53 games. In his first taste of postseason play, he pitched 9 times for Houston, going 1-0, 1.64 and allowing 2 runs on 7 hits and 4 walks in 11 innings while striking out 11. This included two games against the Atlanta Braves in the 2021 World Series.

Before the 2022, he signed a two-year contract with the Chicago White Sox, but a team that had made the postseason the previous two years sank in the standings. The first season, he went 3-4, 3.18 with 6 saves in 65 appearances as Liam Hendriks got most of the save opportunities. In 2023, he was 3-4, 3.48 in 45 games with 8 saves, as with Hendriks largely unavailable, the Sox tried a variety of pitchers in the closer role, including Graveman. With the trade deadline approaching, with the club clearly out of contention, the Sox started trading pitchers, with Graveman being sent back to the Houston Astros on July 28th, following the trade of Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López two days before, and that of Joe Kelly and Lance Lynn the same day. Chicago received young catcher Korey Lee in return. He was 2-2, 2.42 in 23 games for Houston with no saves and a K/W ratio of 24/16 in 22 2/3 innings. He did not appear in the postseason due to right shoulder discomfort, and in January of 2024 it was announced that he would miss all of the season after undergoing surgery. The Astros had hoped that rest and rehabilitation would suffice to address the issue, but it reoccurred when he began throwing early in the new year, prompting the decision to put him under the knife.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Brian McTaggart: "Astros reunite with Graveman in trade with Chicago",, July 28, 2023. [1]
  • Brian McTaggart: "Graveman expected to miss '24 after shoulder surgery",, January 16, 2024. [2]

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