Jacob Cauthen "Jake" Westbrook (born September 29, 1977) is an American Major League Baseball right-handed starting pitcher currently with the St. Louis Cardinals. He is known as a sinker ball pitcher.[1]

Early and personal lifeEdit

Westbrook was born on September 29, 1977, in Athens, Georgia. His father, Cauthen, played baseball and basketball at the University of Georgia, where Jake a signed letter of intent (but never attended because he signed with the Colorado Rockies).[2] He has an older sister, Jill.[1]

Westbrook attended Madison County High School. He tossed 5 no-hitters and one perfect game in his high school career. During his senior season, Westbrook was 9-1 with a 1.11 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 63.0 innings. On March 28, 2008, Westbrook appeared at his high school alma-mater to speak and give thanks as they retired his high school #12 jersey during a home baseball game.

Westbrook married his high school sweetheart, Heather Daniels, on December 12, 1998. The couple has two sons - Jacob Parker (born September 27, 2005) and Keaton Daniels Westbrook (born November 15, 2007)[1] - and a daughter (born September 9, 2010). They reside in Danielsville, GA.[2]

Professional careerEdit

Westbrook was a first round draft pick (21st overall) in the 1996 Major League first-year player draft by the Colorado Rockies. Following the draft, 18-year old Westbrook began his pro career with the Arizona Rockies, the Rookie league affiliate of the Rockies in the Arizona League. He pitched in 11 games in Mesa, before moving up to the Class A-Short Season Portland Rockies in the Northwest League.

For the 1997 season, Westbrook promoted to the Class A Asheville Tourists in the South Atlantic League. He went 14-11 with a 4.29 ERA in 27 starts.

On November 18, 1997, the day after the 1997 Major League Baseball expansion draft, the Rockies traded Westbrook along with fellow minor leaguers John Nicholson and Mark Hamlin to the Montreal Expos for infielder Mike Lansing. The Expos assigned Westbrook to the Jupiter Hammerheads, their Class A-Advanced affiliate in the Florida State League. In 1998, he went 11-6 for the Hammerheads with a 3.26 ERA in 27 starts. In 1999, he went 11-5 with a 3.92 ERA in 27 starts for the Harrisburg Senators, the Double-A club in the Eastern League.

Following three consecutive 27 start seasons, Westbrook was traded in the off-season. On December 22, 1999, the Expos traded him with two players to be named later to the New York Yankees for Hideki Irabu. (Montreal Expos eventually sent Ted Lilly (March 17, 2000) and Christian Parker (March 22, 2000) to the Yankees to complete the trade.)

The Yankees assigned Westbrook to the Triple-A Columbus Clippers in the International League. He went 5-7 with an 4.65 ERA in 15 starts. In his major league debut on June 17, 2000, and his first start at Yankee Stadium for the Yankees against the Chicago White Sox, he did not make it past the second inning.[1] He appeared in three games for the Yankees as a rookie, two starts and once out of the bullpen, going 0-2 with a whopping 13.50 ERA.

On June 29, 2000, the Yankees traded Westbrook with fellow sinker ball pitcher Zach Day and outfielder Ricky Ledée to the Cleveland Indians for outfielder/designated hitter David Justice in their quest to eventually win the 2000 World Series. However, Westbrook cracked a rib at some point while he was pitching, so his 2000 season was cut short.[1]

In 2001, the Indians invited him to spring training. He shuttled back and forth between Cleveland and Triple-A Buffalo Bisons in the International League. He did well in Buffalo, amassing a 8-1 record in 12 starts. But he struggled with his role, going a lackluster 4-4 in Cleveland out of the bullpen and in six spot starts.

In 2002, Westbrook caught a break. He became a regular part of the Cleveland pitching staff that was in transition, as the Tribe went 74-88, finishing 3rd in American League Central Division and getting coach Charlie Manuel sacked mid-way through the season (76 games). He also signed a three year contract with the team.[1] For the 2003 season, Westbrook converted back to starter, going 7-10 with a 4.33 ERA, ending the year as the team's fourth starter.

Westbrook was named to the All-Star team in Template:By, when he won 14 games with a 3.38 ERA. After becoming a full-time starter in 2004, the sinkerballer won at least 14 games in three consecutive seasons.

In 2006, he induced more double plays (35) than any other pitcher in the majors.

In April Template:By, Westbrook signed a three-year, $33 million contract extension with the Indians, which was intended to keep him in Cleveland through the 2010 season.

After being placed on the 15 day DL in April Template:By, Westbrook came back to pitch his first game for the Indians on May 28. After the start, Westbrook began to feel soreness in his elbow, but was optimistic that he would be able to make his next start. On June 7, 2008, the Tribe announced that he would be undergoing Tommy John Surgery and be out of action for 10–14 months, ending his 2008 season. Westbrook also spent the entire 2009 season on the 60-day DL, still recovering from the surgery.[3] He returned to action as the Indians' 2010 Opening Day starter.

On July 31, 2010, Westbrook was part of a three-team trade involving the Indians, St. Louis Cardinals, and San Diego Padres. He went to the Cardinals along with Class A left-hand pitcher Nick Greenwood and cash, while the Tribe received Class AA right-handed pitcher Corey Kluber from San Diego. The Padres got outfielder Ryan Ludwick. Westbrook, who had nearly $4 million remaining in his 2010 salary and another $2 million bonus because of the trade, agreed to forgo part of the bonus to make the deal happen. He was 6-7 with a 4.65 ERA in 21 starts prior to the trade. [4]

On November 16, 2010, Westbrook and the St Louis Cardinals agreed to a two-year $16.5 million deal with a mutual 2013 option and a blanket no-trade clause. [5]

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