— Sugar Land Skeeters (@SL_Skeeters) July 22, 2013
I love this stuff. I loved it when Ron Mahay came back and had a long career as a relief pitcher after flaming out as an outfielder. I loved when Rick Ankiel fought his way back to the majors as an outfielder after Steve Blassing his way out of the show. So of course I was intrigued when I heard that Jason Lane was reinventing himself as a pitcher in independent ball.
If you don't remember Jason Lane, I don't blame you. After six seasons with the Astros- three as a starter- Lane came to San Diego at the tail end of the 2007 season for what are to date his last three major league games. He was hitless in his two at-bats with the team and came in on defense during-- no. No. I swore I'd never talk about that game again. Holliday never touched the plate. Leave me alone. STOP! LET ME BREATHE.
Anyway, Lane has never set a foot in the majors since that fateful day. He stuck around AAA as an outfielder for a couple years; with the Yankees and Red Sox organizations in 2008, and then Florida and Toronto's affiliates in 2009, '10 and '11. The Marlins and Jays used him mainly as an outfielder but tried him out of the 'pen a few times. Before the 2012 season, Dumpster diver Kevin Towers signed him to a minor league deal as just a pitcher for the first time. He put up an ERA just south of eight in 21 innings over 15 games with AAA Reno and then latched on with the independent, now-(in)famous Sugarland Skeeters.
Used as a reliever during his transformation in affiliated ball, Lane was almost exclusively a starter for Sugarland. He started 17 of 18 games last season, going 9-5 with a 3.17 ERA against a collection of misfits. This year he started all 16 of his games and put up an 8-3 record backed by a 2.80 ERA. He seems to be an enemy to three-true-outcome hitters as strikeouts, walks, and homers don't show up that often on his ledger. Whatever works, man. I'll take grounders and weak pop-ups all day.
While I shouldn't get excited because, come on, longshot and filler and all those negative words, I still want him to succeed. I mean, how could you not?