Andrew Kittredge is now an American League All-Star for 2021.
A pioneer of the Opener, Kittredge has quietly put up a tremendous season for the Tampa Bay Rays as he has produced a 1.47 ERA with a 26.2 K% over 43 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting just .173 off of him this season, which ranks 11th among all pitchers with at least 40 innings pitched.
During the 2020 season, Kittredge suffered a tear in his elbow, but chose to rehab the injury instead of undergoing Tommy John surgery. The Rays re-signed Kittredge following the season and after an impressive showing in Spring Training was named to the Opening Day roster.
As an alternate for the All-Star game, Kittredge was informed on Monday night of his selection, and told to hop on a flight in the morning, per Marc Topkin:
Rays reliever Andrew Kittredge planned to spend the All-Star break at Disney, and was enjoying dinner Monday night with his wife, Tobey, and their son, Brooks, at the Rainforest Cafe.
Then Rays manager Kevin Cash called from Denver with stunning news that changed their plans: Kittredge was being added to the American League All-Star team and would be flying west in the morning for Tuesday night’s game.
For those who thought Rays catcher Mike Zunino and infielder Joey Wendle were unlikely All-Stars, say hello to Kittredge.
Kittredge, a Washington native, was originally drafted in the 45th round of the 2008 draft by the Seattle Mariners. Kittredge didn’t sign with the Mariners, but still made his way to the city of Seattle, choosing instead to attend to the University of Washington. A few years later, his Mariners journey would come full circle and the organization would sign Kittredge as an undrafted free agent.
During his time with the Mariners, Kittredge was treated as an organizational soldier, splitting time between all three levels of their system at various times depending on where the team needed fresh bodies to fill innings. Then, in November 2016, the Rays made a swap with Seattle that sent Taylor Motter and Richie Shaffer to the Mariners and brought Dalton Kelly, Dylan Thompson, and Kittredge to Tampa Bay.
Kittredge made his big league debut in 2017, but in 2018 he would truly make history as the first ‘Opener’ for Tampa Bay as they began their strategy of starting pitchers on the mound to face opponent’s hitters just one time through the order before being replaced, a strategy that has proven to be very effective.
Towards the latter part of the 2018 season, Kittredge also made waves for a part in he played in a fracas involving CC Sabathia and the New York Yankees, leading to ongoing tension between the two teams.
And now his storied history with the Rays continues.