Saturday will see the Angel debut of pitcher Billy Buckner starting the game for the Halos in Kansas City. This what you call a "Johnny Allstaff" game. Everyone in the bullpen will be expected to be available and the hope is that the emergency starter can go four innings. Anything keeping the game within reach under those parameters is appreciated.
With lowered expectations, Righty Billy Buckner will have the latitude to show that he is major-league ready. He will be the first Angels player to wear jersey #31 since Chuck Finley left the squad after the 1999 season. Seeing as this is the twenty first pitcher who will throw for the team this year the likelihood of Chuckie's number coming up was greatly increased. Add to this the fact that Buckner is already a veteran of four stretches in the big leagues and he cannot be expected to suffer the ignomy of a high number. Anything past 45 is too high for a starting vet, even one whose big league tours seem to be strung together cups of coffee.
Buckner was drafted by the Royals in the second round of the 2004 draft - ahead of our own Jason Vargas, taken later in the same round. He was born in August of 1983. He gave up 37 hits in 34 IP in his first callup with the Royals in 2007. That offseason he was traded for ...get ready... Alberto Callaspo! The Diamondbacks had acquired AC from the Angels for reliever Jason Bulger and shipped him to the Royals for a promising starting pitcher.
In three season with the Diamondbacks, he amassed -1.4 WAR (that's NEGATIVE Wins Above Replacement). In that third season, 2010, he was traded to Detroit for Dontrelle Willis but never made the big club.
In limited exposure this season he seems to have solved what was heretofore his biggest problem - the homerun ball. He gave up about one per game on average and had that down to .6 HR per 9 IP in the high altitude Pacific Coast League. Maybe that is a good sign. In avoiding those big bat bashes, though, his walks were up a tad this season. In 47 IP he allowed 25 BB and struck out 40. If he can get eighteen outs and keep the Angels in the game Saturday it will be all the team could really ever ask of him. Let's hope there is a little magic in Chuckie's jersey number.