10 questions with former Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Tyler Cravy

ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 2: Tyler Cravy #45 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning at Busch Stadium on June 2, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - JUNE 2: Tyler Cravy #45 of the Milwaukee Brewers pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning at Busch Stadium on June 2, 2015 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images) /

Tyler Cravy, now 32 years of age, had a brief but memorable career in Major League Baseball, appearing in parts of two seasons for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2015 and 2016.

The first season (2015) saw a greater sample size for the right-handed swingman, as he appeared in 14 games, starting seven of them. Over 42.2 innings, Cravy had an 0-8 record and a 5.70 ERA. While on the surface those numbers may not look great, it’s easy to see where the high ERA comes from — a few poor starts and a bad bullpen outing or two. But there were glimpses of success in the numbers, including a seven-inning, one-run Major League debut and a stretch of solid outings across September of that season.

However, 2016 was the year that Tyler Cravy appeared to have figured things out. The Brewers utilized the then-26-year old primarily out of the bullpen to above-average results. In 20 games pitched and 28.1 innings, Cravy managed to lower his ERA to 2.86 and he saw dramatic improvements in his FIP, WHIP, H/9, and HR/9. Not only did he look sharp on the mound, but he showed that he can swing the bat too, launching a game-tying bomb off of Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jeff Locke. Everything seemed to be falling into place.

Then 2017 came around. Heading into Spring Training, a roster spot in the regular season was by no means a sure-thing for Cravy, but his significant improvements the year before at least offered a higher probability that he would make the team. In 11 appearances in Spring Training, Cravy was dominant. A proud owner of a 2.03 ERA, 0.60 WHIP and  across 11 outings and 13 innings, he looked like a sure thing.

Despite the strong performance, Tyler Cravy found himself as one of the final cuts made as the Brewers finalized their roster. Cravy, as one can imagine, was less than thrilled. He went on to lash out at Brewers management to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s Tom Haudricourt. After the 2017 Cravy elected free agency and never resurfaced at the Major League level again.

"“It would just be nice to have the honesty straight up front instead of, ‘Hey, you’re competing for a job,’ then literally out-compete everyone and be told, ‘Sorry, we have other plans.’“It says a lot about the integrity, or lack thereof, of the guys running the show, but what are you going to do? All you can do is put up numbers and sometimes that’s still not enough. I don’t think they would release me. I think it would just be me deciding to quit if I chose that route. I’m just not sure I want to play for guys who treat you like this.”"

I recently had the opportunity to chat with former Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Tyler Cravy. Let’s dive in.

Q1: Where were you and what were you doing when you were first notified that you had been promoted to MLB?

I was in Colorado Springs. I had just finished up lunch at “At the Border” with my grandparents (morning game that day, probably a Sunday) as they were in town visiting. I was driving back to my apartment when I got a call from a Washington area code. I didn’t recognize the number so I nearly didn’t answer. When I did, it was manager Rick Sweet letting me know I was being called up and was flying to St. Louis the next day. I called my dad first, he was ecstatic and said he would be driving down from Kansas City ASAP, then called my mom in California and figured out some travel plans for the fam.

Q2. It’s been a few years since you made any professional appearances. Are you officially considering yourself “retired?” If yes, was that an easy decision for you to make? Were/are you fully at peace with that call?

I still don’t consider myself “retired.” I feel that I can pick up a ball at any moment, get in throwing shape in a couple of months, and be able to successfully pitch in the big leagues again. Probably not realistic to most, but I know what I’m capable of. I’ve accepted it probably won’t happen. I’m content with it. I know I did all I could during my time.

Q3. Apparently you are something of a power-threat with the bat. Not only did you hit a home run in 2016 in the Majors, but you also hit a pair of them in the minor leagues. Do you remember the pitcher who gave up each of them? Bonus points if you still have any of the baseballs.

I do remember both! Tim Cooney and Zack Petrick, both members of the Memphis Redbirds. I don’t have the balls though. The one in Colorado Springs may not have landed yet. Ha!

Q4. At any point during your career, were you ever contacted about potentially signing overseas? It seems that during the current MLB lockout that is as popular of a destination as any.

I was drawing some interest from the Yomiuri Giants and Seibu Lions in 2015, before I was called up in Milwaukee. I was told by my agent the Brewers were not willing to part ways with me at that time. The next two years, despite having made it up to the big leagues and flashed some success there, after the 2017 season when I was a free agent, it seemed the interest was no longer there. Can’t imagine why.

Q5. Do you remember who your first Major League strikeout victim was?

Yep! One thing a pitcher will never forget. Matt Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals in my debut.1-2 count, split finger, check swing (I didn’t think he went, honestly) but the third base umpire rung him up.

Q6. Are you involved with anything MLB-related nowadays? Or just baseball in general?

Nothing at all, sadly. It’s such small fraternity of guys who have ever played in the Majors, You’d think there would be something for us smaller name guys afterward, but no. I watch a game or two a month on TV these days. Kids, golf, rec-league basketball and softball take up most my time.

Q7. Who was the funniest teammate you ever had the chance of playing with? Bonus points if you can tell me someone who thought they were hilarious but weren’t, ha ha!

The easy answer is Tim Dillard, so I’m going with that. Comedy Legend, Locker room clown, super creative, his reputation speaks for itself. For the bonus, I’m going with Brett Phillips (sorry buddy, hope you’re not reading this).

Q8. Heading into 2017, you had something of a falling out with Brewers management, getting demoted after a stellar spring training performance. It was well-documented at the time. Now that it’s been five years, is there anything you would have done differently during that whole scenario?

For starters, I have no regrets. I have a great job that pays me more than I ever made in Triple-A, probably where I would still be sitting, am I right ? I get to come home to my beautiful wife and kids every night. I’m not on the road half the year and not flying every four days, which I hated. God has a path for everyone and mine has been awesome.

Having said that, I’d probably say the same thing today, albeit it would be in a different, less aggressive manner. It became clear to me that spring that Major League Baseball wasn’t truly a performance-based industry. It was the biggest “buddy club” around, and being liked by upper management seemed to trump performing on the field. With a new GM, new assistant GM, new analytic-driven outlook, bringing in all the guys they liked from their previous organizations, it’s tough for guys who were already in the organization for several years. I could have very easily said nothing at all and been in the same position I am today, much like several of my teammates back then who deserved more chances than they got.

Also, I had been going through a lot that Spring Training that very few people knew about. My first child had just been born on February 7, 2017, right before we reported. She was ill a couple weeks in, and it was very scary. On March 10, we found out she needed to have surgery for pyloric stenosis. I had this going on at home, while missing no time for Spring Training because I knew how important this season was for me. Safe to say I was running, and pitching, on no sleep at all, while my already bad anxiety was through the roof. So those circumstances definitely didn’t aid my outburst after I was demoted the day before Opening Day (for the second year in a row). Add all of this into the fact that I personally felt overlooked by the Brewers my entire minor league career (story for another day … and, PS, its a good one)  and being told by coaches I had made the team before getting housing set up in Milwaukee that year, yeah I was pissed. I felt like it was a low class move.

Q9. In your opinion, who is the most exciting young player in today’s game? Can be a pitcher or position player, or one of each!

Definitely Shohei Ohtani. When I was in college pitching and playing shortstop, I dreamed of doing both at the Major League level. Sounds crazy, but my dad built us a batting cage when I was 10 and use to pull me out of school early to go hit every day. I always considered myself a better position player than pitcher growing up, so Ohtani hits home with that one!

Fernando Tatis Jr. is a close second. He is electric on both sides of the ball.

Q10. You’ve been selected as one of the writers who gets a Hall of Fame vote this year. Who, if anyone, would you vote for on your ballot if given the chance?

My ballot would consist of:

Barry Bonds

Roger Clemens

Todd Helton

Andruw Jones

David Ortiz

Manny Ramirez

Alex Rodriguez

Scott Rolen

Sammy Sosa

Billy Wagner

Curt Schilling

Gary Sheffield

I know how hard this game is. In my opinion, these guys should be in the Hall.

Next. Would this Mets-Brewers trade proposal work?. dark

Thank you so much to former Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Tyler Cravy for taking the time to chat with me. It was a pleasure getting to pick your brain. Tyler is part of the fourth installment of “10 Questions With” that I’ve started. With multiple former and current players in the queue, what kind of questions would you like to see asked to a current or former big leaguer?