Card-by-Yankees Card: The 1977 Topps Set, Card #193, Larry Gura (Article 36)
by Paul Semendinger
September 8. 2020 (Continuing a Series)
In a previous article in this series (the one on Fran Healy), I noted:
During the 1976 season, Fran Healy was traded to the Yankees in a straight-up trade for Larry Gura, a trade that the Royals got the better of. Gura became a top-flight pitcher and one who always seemed to beat the Yankees.
Between 1976 and 1982, his first seven years with the Royals, Larry Gura went 88-51, 3.33. He was a top-notch pitcher.
And Larry Gura was indeed a top pitcher. Crafty, smart, and durable, Gura put up the following numbers in the immediate years after leaving New York (in his first few years, he pitched mainly out of the bullpen):
1976: 20 games, 2 starts, 62.2 innings… 4-0, 2.30
1977: 52 games, 6 starts, 106.1 innings… 8-5, 3.13
1978: 35 games, 26 starts, 221.2 innings… 16-4, 2.72
1979: 39 games, 33 starts, 233.2 innings… 13-12, 4,47
1980: 36 games, 36 starts, 283.1 innings… 18-10, 2.95
1981: 23 games, 23 starts, 172.1 innings… 11-8, 2.72
1982: 37 games, 37 starts, 248 innings… 18-12, 4.02
From 1978 on, the Yankees sure could have used a pitcher who pitched like that to team up with Ron Guidry (and later Tommy John).
Gura put up 19.4 bWAR over those seasons in Kansas City.
And the Yankees traded him for a back-up catcher… whose combined bWAR as a Yankee was 0.9. (But, as I argue in the article about Fran Healy, if not for Healy, Reggie Jackson might never have become Mr. October, so there is that.)
Larry Gura also seemed to save some of his best starts for when he pitched against the Yankees.
In 1979, Gura went 3-0, 2.67 vs the Yanks.
In 1980, he was 3-0, 2.32.
In 1981 (the strike season), we went just 1-1, but his EAR was a nifty 1.98 against New York.
In 1982, he bettered that ERA against the Yankees, bringing it down to 1.50, but again, he went just 1-1.
All told, that was four years of dominant starting pitching against the team that traded him away for a reserve catcher. But, to be fair, the Yankees were not the first team to trade Gura away.
Larry Gura came up with the Chicago Cubs in 1970. In four years with the Cubs, pitching mostly as a reliever (54 games, with 10 starts), he went 3-7, 4.42. After the 1973 season, Gura was traded to the Texas Rangers. he’d never pitch for Texas because in May of 1974, he was traded to the Yankees for Duke Simms…a light-hitting back-up catcher.