Born: March 27, 1951|
|April 17, 1973, for the Philadelphia Phillies|
|Last MLB appearance|
|May 1, 1986, for the Chicago Cubs|
|Earned run average||4.14|
|Career highlights and awards|
Richard David Ruthven (born March 27, 1951) is a former Major League Baseball pitcher with a 14-year career from 1973 to 1986. He played for the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves and Chicago Cubs all of the National League. During his career, Ruthven had a record of 123-127, an ERA of 4.14, and 1145 career strikeouts. His Phillies teams won the National League East title in 1978 and the World Series in 1980, and his Cubs team won the National League East title in 1984.
Major league career
Draft and early Philly years
He was the first pick of the Philadelphia Phillies in the secondary phase of the 1973 amateur draft, and made his major league debut on April 17 of the same year. He had been drafted earlier by the Baltimore Orioles (20th round, 1969) and by the Minnesota Twins (1st round, 1972), but did not sign with either team.
In his rookie season of 1973, Ruthven pitched 25 games, starting 23. He finished the season 6-9 with a 4.21 earned run average for a team that finished in last place in the National League Eastern Division with a 71-91 record.
In 1974, Ruthven started 35 games and pitched over 200 innings for the first time (2122⁄3). He had a record of 9-13 with a 4.02 ERA, as the Phillies improved their overall record to 80-82, good enough for third place. He also set his career record for strikeouts with 153.
In 1975, injuries limited Ruthven to 11 games and seven starts. He went 2-2 with a 4.20 ERA.
In December, 1975, Ruthven was traded twice. On December 10, Ruthven was traded by the Phillies along with position player Alan Bannister and pitcher Roy Thomas to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Jim Kaat and infielder Mike Buskey. Two days later, the White Sox traded Ruthven to the Atlanta Braves with outfielder Ken Henderson and pitcher Daniel Osborn for outfielder Ralph Garr and infielder Larvell Blanks.
With the Braves, Ruthven had a solid 1976 season, being named to the National League All-Star team for the first time before fading in the latter part of the season, finishing the season 14-17 with a 4.19 ERA in 36 starts. The 17 losses and 36 starts were both career highs, however, the Braves finished last in the National League Western Division, going 70-92.
In 1977, Ruthven again battled injuries, pitching in 25 games (23 starts). Even though his ERA didn't change much (rising to 4.23), Ruthven finished with only a 7-13 record for a Braves team that lost 101 games.
Return to the Phillies
In 1978, Ruthven struggled coming out of the gate, starting with only a 2-6 record for the Braves, though his ERA had actually improved some (4.10), when he was re-acquired by the Phillies on June 15. For Ruthven, the Phillies sent popular relief pitcher Gene Garber to Atlanta. Ruthven was stellar with the Phillies, going 13-5 from June 15 to the end of the regular season, with a 2.99 ERA. For the entire season, Ruthven's record was 15-11 with a 3.38 ERA. His contributions helped the Phillies win 90 games and capture the Eastern Division title, the team's third division in a row. He pitched one game against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 1978 National League Championship Series, losing game 2 of a series the Phillies lost in four games.
1979 started great for Ruthven, who sprinted out to a 6-0 record and a 1.65 ERA as of May 9. Unfortunately, injuries would plague Ruthven for the rest of the season, and he would only win one more game the rest of the season, finishing 7-5 with a 4.27 ERA. Injuries hit other Phillies pitchers, and the three-time Division Champs fell to fourth place in the National League East, 14 games behind the eventual World Champion Pittsburgh Pirates.
His best season may have been in 1980, a year he did not make the All-Star team. He finished the season with a career-high 17 wins, and had a 3.55 ERA in 33 games started. Ironically, though he started every game during the season, Ruthven came in as a relief pitcher in the pivotal 5th game of the National League Championship Series, pitching two shutout innings to earn the victory in the 10th inning, capping a Phils comeback in a game that the team faced a 5-2 deficit in the 8th inning against Nolan Ryan. Ruthven pitched the third game of the 1980 World Series, won by the Royals, without a decision. The Phillies won that Series in six games.
Ruthven charged from the gate in 1981, compiling an 8-3 record before the 1981 baseball strike began on June 12. Because of his record, Ruthven was named to the National League All-Star team for the second time. However, when play resumed on August 10, Ruthven struggled for the remainder of the season, going 4-4 the rest of the way. For the season, Ruthven finished 12-7 with a high 5.15 ERA. Because of the strike, major league baseball split the 1981 season, and two teams from each division made an extra round of playoffs. The Phillies "won" the first-half title, but lost the 1981 National League Division Series to the Montreal Expos in five games. Ruthven lost Game 2 to the Expos.
In 1982, Ruthven pitched in 33 games (31 starts), and pitched over 200 innings for the fifth time. Though he had a decent ERA (3.79), Ruthven was a .500 pitcher that season, finishing with an 11-11 record. The Phillies finished second in the division, three games behind the eventual World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.
Traded to Cubs and retirement
1983 started out terribly for Ruthven. He started the season with a 1-3 record and a 5.61 ERA for the Phillies. On May 22, the Phillies traded Ruthven to the Chicago Cubs, along with minor league pitcher Bill Johnson, for relief pitcher Willie Hernández. While the Phillies won the National League pennant that season, the Cubs would finish fifth with a 71-91 record, 19 games behind the Phillies. Ruthven pitched better for the Cubs, going 12-9 with a 4.10 ERA. 1983 would be the last season in which Ruthven would win ten or more games.
In 1984, Ruthven began a downward slide in his effectiveness. He started the season as the opening day starter for the Cubs, winning on April 3 against the San Francisco Giants. Even though the Cubs would win the division with 96 victories, Ruthven would win only six games against ten losses, compiled in 23 games (22 starts). His ERA also ballooned, rising to 5.04. It was his lowest win total since 1975. Ruthven did not appear in the 1984 National League Championship Series, which the Cubs lost in five games to the San Diego Padres.
In 1985, the Cubs slid to 77-84, and Ruthven only made fifteen starts and five relief appearances. He finished with a 4-7 record, with a 4.53 ERA.
In 1986, Ruthven lost his starting spot in the Cubs' rotation. He made just six relief appearances, and his ERA had risen to 5.06. On May 6, 1986, he was released by the Cubs, ending Ruthven's major league career.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)