“FENWAY'S BEST PLAYERS”


 
1997-2004
DEREK LOWE

Derek Christopher Lowe (born June 1, 1973) played for the Seattle Mariners, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees, and Texas Rangers. Lowe attended Edsel Ford High School in Dearborn, Michigan, where he was a four-sport letterman in baseball, golf, soccer, and basketball. He was an All-League honoree in all four sports, and was a first-team all-state pick in basketball. Lowe committed to attend Eastern Michigan University on a basketball scholarship.

The Seattle Mariners drafted Lowe in the eighth round of the 1991 MLB Draft. He signed with the Mariners on June 7, 1991, forgoing his college scholarship. The Mariners immediately assigned him to their rookie league team, where he went 5–3 with a 2.41 earned run average (ERA) in 12 starts. He spent the next several years working his way through several minor league teams: 1992 – Single-A Bellingham (7–3, 2.42 – 13 starts), 1993 – Single-A Riverside (12–9, 5.26, 26 starts), 1994 – Double-A Jacksonville (7–10, 4.94, 26 starts), 1995 – Double-A Port City (1–6, 6.08, 10 starts), 1996 – Triple-A Tacoma (6–9, 4.54, 16 starts).

Lowe made his major league debut on April 26, 1997, working 32⁄3 innings in relief against the Toronto Blue Jays. He made his first major league start on May 27, 1997, against the Minnesota Twins, giving up four runs in 5 innings. Seattle, however, was desperate for immediate bullpen help and packaged Lowe and catcher Jason Varitek into a deal with the Boston Red Sox for Heathcliff Slocumb. The trade is considered one of the most lopsided in MLB history.

Lowe compiled a 5–15 record over his first two seasons, during which he split time starting and relieving, but came into his own in 1999 after being transferred into the closer's role, finishing the season with 15 saves and a 2.63 ERA.

Lowe had his best season as a closer in 2000 when he led the American League with 42 saves and recorded a 2.56 ERA. Despite recording 24 saves early in the 2001 season, Lowe lost the closer's job soon after the trading deadline when the Red Sox acquired Ugueth Urbina. Lowe was left in limbo, forced to take various setup jobs in the bullpen. Lowe asked manager Joe Kerrigan to return him to the starting rotation, and he pitched 16 innings as a starter before the end of the season.

As a starter in 2002, Lowe posted a 21–8 record, a 2.58 ERA, and finished third in Cy Young Award voting behind Barry Zito and teammate Pedro Martínez. Lowe also no-hit the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Fenway Park on April 27 that year, becoming the first pitcher to do so at Fenway Park since Dave Morehead in 1965. Lowe faced just one over the minimum in the game; only a third inning walk to Brent Abernathy separated Lowe from a perfect game.

Lowe posted a 17–7 record despite a 4.47 ERA in 2003. He recorded an improbable save in deciding Game 5 of the 2003 American League Division Series, helped by two clutch strikeouts.

In 2004, he finished 14–12 with a 5.42 ERA in 33 starts, spending part of the season demoted to the Red Sox bullpen. During the postseason he rebounded with a 3–0 record and 1.86 ERA in four games, three of them starts. He was the winner in the final game of all three postseason series—American League Division Series against the Anaheim Angels, American League Championship Series against the New York Yankees, and World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals (where he threw shutout ball for 7 innings in Game 4, to defeat Jason Marquis) — as the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years. However, the win against the Angels was coming in relief. Lowe later said that the team would no longer have to hear "1918", a derisive chant mocking the Red Sox's previously most recent title win, at Yankee Stadium.

On January 11, 2005, Lowe finalized a $36 million, four-year contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite his signing with a new team, Lowe wore a Red Sox uniform, with his career-long number of 32, during the Red Sox World Series ring ceremony on April 11, 2005, after already making a start for the Dodgers.

For the 2008 season, after being the opening day starter for the Dodgers for the last three years, he was moved to the second starting position, behind Brad Penny. Lowe was chosen by manager Joe Torre to start Game 1 of the National League Championship series against the Philadelphia Phillies on October 9, 2008. Lowe opened the game with five scoreless innings.

Lowe agreed to a four-year, $60 million deal with the Atlanta Braves during the 2008–09 offseason. In 2010, Lowe was one of only two active players, along with Liván Hernández, to have played 12 or more seasons without going on the disabled list.

Following the 2011 season, the Braves traded Lowe to the Cleveland Indians for minor league left-handed relief pitcher Chris Jones. The Braves paid $10 million of Lowe's $15 million salary for the 2012 season. The Indians designated Lowe for assignment on August 1 to make room for Corey Kluber. Lowe was 8-10 with a 5.52 ERA in 21 starts and 119 innings pitched.[14] The Indians released Lowe on August 10.

On August 12, 2012, Lowe signed with the New York Yankees. He made his Yankees debut on August 13 pitching 4 scoreless innings of relief and got his first regular season save since 2001. Lowe became a free agent after the 2012 season ended.

On March 6, 2013, Lowe signed a minor league contract with the Texas Rangers. He made the team's major league roster, and was with the Rangers on opening day but was designated for assignment on May 20, 2013.

On June 9, 2013, sports journalist Nick Cafardo reported that Lowe appeared to have retired. According to Cafardo, Lowe told his agent, Scott Boras, not to approach any teams to see if they have any interest in Lowe. Lowe officially announced his retirement July 18, 2013.

Lowe has advocated for various causes to fight cancer. Himself a survivor of squamous cell carcinoma, Lowe has worked with the Melanoma Foundation of New England, the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention, and The Prostate Cancer Foundation.