Haeger was around during Spring Training and went to AAA Albuquerque where he quickly amassed a record of 11-6 in 22 starts with a 3.55 ERA with 3.61 BB/9 and 6.41 K/9 in 144.2 innings. That got the Dodgers interest piqued but Haeger’s history left a lot of people cautious.
Haeger was drafted in the 2001 amateur draft and struggled in the Rookie league and even left baseball altogether to take his chances as a professional golfer.
Fast forward to 2004- Charlie returns as a knuckeballer and started to show some promise but remained in the minors with admirable stats but a few control problems.
Today, Haeger mixed his low-speed fastball with a knuckeball that continuously hung over the plate (err…after about 4 innings). Eric Karros was commenting how impressed he was with Haeger’s consistency midway through the game during the FOX Sports telecast. Take a look at some of the film from the game…he’s definitely shaky at the beginning but you can see the knuckleball confusing the Cubs. Then, about the 4th inning or so, the ball just starts consistently hanging and dropping- leaving several Cubs hitters totally bewildered.
With his win today (his first with the Dodgers), Haeger looks like a nice addition to the starting rotation with a 1.93 ERA (albeit with only 14 innings pitched). If he can keep his control, the Dodgers may have found their answer to their injury problems.
“Anytime that I can consistently throw strikes with it, I’m going to keep throwing it,” Haeger said. “I’m going to live and die by the knuckleball; that’s what I do.”