Monday, January 2, 2017

Denver Lemaster (#288)

Denver Lemaster was a starting pitcher who played mostly for the Braves and Astros from 1962-1972.

Lemaster was signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1958, and after 4 ½ seasons in the minors he made his debut with the Braves in July 1962, replacing Ron Piche in the rotation.

From 1963-64, Denny notched 11 and 17 wins as the Braves' #2 starter behind Warren Spahn (in '63) and Tony Cloninger (in '64). He had an off-year in '65, posting a record of 7-13 for the final lap in Milwaukee.

Lemaster was back on the winning side of the ledger in 1966 with an 11-8 record.

1967 was his last season with the Braves, and it was a good one. Besides making his only All-Star team, he led the Braves' staff in starts, innings, and strikeouts. (The Braves' ace starter Cloninger had a terrible year, and Phil Niekro was a reliever until midway through the season.) 

With Niekro emerging as the staff ace, and rookies Pat Jarvis and Ron Reed joining the rotation, the Braves traded Lemaster to the Astros in the off-season (with shortstop Denis Menke) for shortstop Sonny Jackson and 1st baseman Chuck Harrison.

Denny provided a veteran presence on a staff that included youngsters Larry Dierker and Don Wilson. Lemaster was one of the top 3 starters for the next 2 ½ years, until he was replaced in the rotation by ex-Braves' teammate Wade Blasingame in July 1970.

Lemaster was a full-time reliever in 1971, with all 42 of his games coming out of the bullpen.

He joined the Expos after the 1971 season, and appeared in 13 games (19 innings) in 1972 before getting his release on July 1st.

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