Former Oakland Athletics pitcher Mark Mulder, who last pitched in the major leagues in 2008, is trying to make a comeback.
According to ESPN.com, the 36-year-old has changed his delivery and after working out for a month in the Phoenix area, he threw off the mound for three unidentified teams and said his fastball was clocked at 89-90 mph.
Mulder was an All-Star with the A’s in 2003 and 2004 after he was the No. 2 overall pick in 1998 out of Michigan State University.
He debuted with Oakland in 2000 and went on to win 21 games in 2001, 19 in 2002, 15 in 2003 and 17 in 2004.
In five seasons with the A’s, Mulder was 81-42 with a 3.92 ERA and a 1.284 ERA in 1,003 innings and 150 starts, with 668 strikeouts.
Mulder finished second to Roger Clemens of the Yankees in the Cy Young Award voting in 2001.
Mulder was traded to the Cardinals in December 2004 for Daric Barton, Kiko Calero and Dan Haren.
He had another solid season in 2005, finishing 16-8 with a 3.64 ERA and 1.376 WHIP in 32 starts and 205 innings, striking out 111.
The strikeout numbers were telling a tale—over the course of four seasons, Mulder’s strikeout per nine innings rate had dipped from 6.9 in 2002 to just 4.9 in 2005.
He made 17 starts in 2006, but was 6-7 with an ERA of 7.14 and a 1.704 WHIP in 93.1 innings and underwent the first of two shoulder surgeries.
He made three starts in his comeback effort in 2007, losing all three while allowing 17 runs, 15 earnedm on 22 hits with seven walks and three strikeouts in 11 innings.
His final comeback effort ended after just 1.2 innings in three appearances in 2008 with St. Louis, when he allowed two runs on four hits with two walks and two strikeouts.
He told ESPN.com that he spotted something in the delivery of Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Paco Rodriguez during the playoffs and began to emulate that motion.
“The best was to describe it is, the ball is coming out of my hand better now than at any point when I was in St. Louis,” Mulder said. “I wouldn’t be trying this if I didn’t think the stuff I was throwing was good enough [to pitch in the big leagues],”
Mulder has been an analyst with ESPN since 2011, but said his television career will go on hold while he chases a chance to return to the big leagues on the hill.
He was very good for the A’s in the 2001 and 2002 postseasons, making four starts and notching a 2.25 ERA and 1.375 WHIP in 24 innings against the Yankees in 2001 and the Twins in 2002.
He was 1-2 in three postseason starts for the Cardinals in 2005 with a 2.45 ERA and 1.418 WHIP in 18.1 innings.