Former starting pitcher Dick Drago has passed away on Thursday at the age of 78, as noted by Pete Abraham of The Boston Globe. Drago pitched for the Royals, Red Sox, Angels, Orioles, and Mariners throughout his big league career, which spanned 13 seasons from 1969 to 1981. The Royals and Red Sox both mourned the loss on X this morning, extending sympathies to Drago’s friends and family.
Drago’s big league career began as a member of the inaugural Royals team in 1969, a team for which he quickly emerged as one of the better starting options. Drago posted a 3.77 ERA with a 3.67 FIP across 200 2/3 innings of work during his rookie campaign, throwing 10 complete games and appearing in 41 with 26 starts. He largely repeated those results during the 1970 season with even more volume, pitching to a 3.75 ERA and 3.65 FIP across 240 innings of work.
The righty’s star shined brightest during the 1971 campaign, however. Across 35 appearances (34 starts) for Kansas City that year, Drago posted a 2.98 ERA with a nearly matching 2.99 FIP. He did that across 241 1/3 innings of work, recording 15 complete games with four shutouts among them. Drago’s performance led the Royals to the club’s first season above .500 in the young franchise’s history and earned him a fifth-place finish in AL Cy Young award voting that year while the trophy ultimately went to Vida Blue.
Drago ultimately spent two more seasons in Kansas City, pitching to a 3.58 ERA and 3.47 FIP across a combined 452 innings of work those seasons. In 1974, Drago began his first stint in Boston, which would only last two seasons. That included, of course, the club’s 1975 World Series run that saw them lose the World Series in seven games against the Reds. While Drago pitched just 72 2/3 innings of 3.84 ERA baseball with the Red Sox during the regular season that year, his contributions in four appearances out of the Boston bullpen during the playoffs were far more impressive: Drago allowed just one run in 8 2/3 innings of work across four appearances that postseason against the A’s and Reds.
After converting to relief work in the 1975 season Drago spent two seasons pitching out of the bullpen for the Angels (for whom he gave up the final home run of Hank Aaron’s career in 1976) and the Orioles, with a 3.99 ERA and 3.86 FIP in 140 innings of work across those two seasons, before returning to Boston in 1978. His second stint with the club lasted three seasons, and saw him do some of his best…