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Dustin Molleken

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Dustin Douglas Molleken

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[edit] Biographical Information

Dustin Molleken is a pitcher who was already 31 years old and a Pan American Games Gold Medal winner when he made his big league debut. He is the nephew of former NHL coach Lorne Molleken [1]. Dustin played one game in the Western Hockey League in 2000-2001. He was a late cut from the Canadian junior national baseball team in 2002.

Molleken was picked by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 15th round of the 2003 amateur draft then missed six weeks due to elbow tendonitis. He allowed four runs in 6 1/3 IP for the 2003 GCL Pirates then missed all of 2004 due to Tommy John surgery.

In 2005, Dustin was 0-4 with a 7.20 ERA for the GCL Pirates. He moved up to the Williamsport Crosscutters in 2006 and went 1-2 with a 2.51 ERA in 13 games. He split 2007 between the State College Spikes (1-0, 1 R in 8 2/3 IP), the Lynchburg Hillcats (3 R in 4 2/3 IP) and the Hickory Crawdads (3-1, 4.50, 31 K in 26 IP).

In 2008, Molleken was with Hickory (5-4, 6.30, 21 HR in 80 IP) and Lynchburg (3-2, 6.67). He split 2009 between Lynchburg (3-1, Sv, 3.48 in 18 G) and the Altoona Curve (1-1, Sv, 4.62 in 18 G). He joined Team Canada for the 2009 Baseball World Cup, tying Jimmy Henderson for the team lead with 7 games pitched. He allowed only 7 hits and no runs in 11 innings. He got the win over Puerto Rico in round 2. In the Bronze Medal game, also against Puerto Rico, he relieved Scott Richmond with a 3-2 lead in the 5th and tossed two shutout frames, turning it over to Trystan Magnuson as Canada would take the Bronze.

Molleken was 4-4 with a 4.15 ERA in 31 games for the 2010 Curve, striking out 62 in 60 2/3 IP. He signed with the Colorado Rockies and split 2011 between the Tulsa Drillers (4-1, 6 Sv, 4.76 in 35 G) and Colorado Springs Sky Sox (2 R in 1 IP). He was with the 2011 Canadian National Team that would make it into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame as a unit. He was again excellent in a Baseball World Cup, the last one played - 5 H, 4 BB, 1 UER, 0 ER in 8 IP. His five games pitched tied for second on the team in the 2011 Baseball World Cup, behind Mike Johnson. Canada tied for the Bronze when the Bronze Medal match with Team USA was rained out. In the 2011 Pan American Games, he saved Shawn Hill's opening win over Puerto Rico then beat Venezuela. He relieved Hill with a 4-3 lead over Mexico in the semifinals and tossed two shutout innings before Chris Kissock closed out a 5-3 win. Canada would win their first Gold ever in a Pan American Games. Despite a 1.71 WHIP, he had a 1.93 ERA for the event and he led Canada with four games pitched (no one else pitched in more than two of their five contests).

Molleken began 2012 back with Colorado Springs, going 3-0 with a save and a 5.18 ERA in 40 games. He was then signed by the Nippon Ham Fighters and went 2-1 with a 3.27 ERA in 23 games for them in the remainder of 2012. In the 2012 Japan Series, he had a 7.71 ERA in two games; only Yuki Saito was higher for the Fighters, who dropped the Series in six games to the Yomiuri Giants. He excelled for Canada once again when he was them for the 2013 World Baseball Classic, throwing two shutout innings in a 14-4 Canadian loss to Italy and two more blanks in a 9-4 loss to the US. He was Canada's top pitcher in that tournament.

He only got into 5 games for Nippon Ham in 2013 (3.68 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) and was let go. The Milwaukee Brewers signed him and sent him to the Nashville Sounds, for whom he had a save and a 3.14 ERA in 10 games. He spent all of 2014 with the Sounds, pitching 54 times and going 5-2 with four saves and a 4.86 ERA. He struck out 89 in 74 innings. He tied David Goforth for second in the Brewers chain in pitching appearances (behind Brent Leach) and tied Jason Stoffel for 5th in the 2014 PCL in that department.

Picked up by the Cleveland Indians, he was 5-3 with a save and a 3.25 ERA in 40 games for the Columbus Clippers in 2015. He had a 2.45 ERA for Canada in the 2015 Premier 12, surprisingly his highest ERA in five events to Team Canada to that point. He once again came up huge, saving three games to lead the initial Premier 12. He saved Philippe Aumont's 2-0 win over Puerto Rico (retiring all four batters). Against Taiwan, he relieved Andrew Albers with one on, two outs and a 9-6 lead in the 8th. He allowed a Dai-Kang Yang single and Po-Jung Wang double to make it 9-8. Chih-Hao Chang then hit a shot to the wall; Tyson Gillies caught it but it bounced out of his glove and into that of Rene Tosoni. Umpire Fabrizio Fabrizi ruled that the ball had hit the wall, but the rest of the crew overturned it after protest from Canadian skipper Ernie Whitt. Molleken then tossed a scoreless 9th for the save. He also saved Chris Leroux's 3-1 win over the Dutch national team. He was named the top reliever of the event.

Signed by the Detroit Tigers next, he was 1-3 with a save and a 3.45 ERA in 26 games for the 2016 Toledo Mud Hens, battling control issues (26 BB in 44 1/3 IP). He got the call to the majors finally, though, with the Tigers' bullpen being depleted. Another former NPB player, Casey McGehee, was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster. In his MLB debut on July 4, 2016, he relieved Daniel Norris with one on, a 1-0 deficit and no out in the top of the 3rd against Cleveland. He was greeted by a Jason Kipnis double, then got Francisco Lindor on a sacrifice fly before he got his first major league strikeout, fanning Mike Napoli. Alex Wilson relieved him with two on and no outs in the 5th and let an inherited runner score so he finished his debut at 2 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 R.

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