Daniel Lee Kolb
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 215 lb.
- School Sauk Valley Community College, Illinois State University
- High School Walnut (IL) High School
- Debut June 4, 1999
- Final Game June 20, 2007
- Born March 29, 1975 in Sterling, IL USA
Pitcher Dan Kolb is the cousin of former big league outfielder Gary Kolb.
Kolb was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 17th round of the 1993 amateur draft out of high school, though his school did not have a baseball team. After pitching for Illinois State University in 1994, Kolb transferred to community college and spent another year not pitching. After dropping out of school, Dan was drafted in the sixth round of the 1995 amateur draft by the Texas Rangers.
Kolb debuted with the 1995 GCL Rangers, going 1-7, but with a 2.21 ERA and 38 hits allowed in 53 IP; on the other hand, his RA was 3.74. It is not as if the GCL Rangers were a horrible team - other hurlers on the staff were a combined 23-27. Kolb finished 8th in the Gulf Coast League in ERA and was one loss behind league leader Delvis Pacheco.
Danny walked 82 batters in 1996, most in the Rangers farm system. He was 8-6 with a 2.57 ERA for the Charleston RiverDogs, allowing just 80 hits and striking out 127 in 126 IP. With the Charlotte Rangers, he was 2-2 with a 4.26 ERA. He also made two starts for the Tulsa Drillers, going 1-0 with a 0.77 ERA. He pitched a rain-shortened 5 1/2 inning no-hitter against the Columbus RedStixx during the season and Baseball America named him the #3 prospect in the South Atlantic League after Adrian Beltre and Chad Hermansen. He finished 6th in the SAL in ERA. Baseball America also ranked him as the top prospect in the Rangers farm system.
In 1997, Dan went 4-10 with a 4.87 ERA for Charlotte and 0-2, 4.76 for Tulsa, walking 73 to lead the Rangers system once again. Kolb bounced back a bit in 1998, posting a 12-11, 4.82 record for Tulsa and pitching one scoreless inning for the Oklahoma Redhawks. He was 10th in the Texas League in ERA.
For 1999, Kolb pitched for Tulsa (1-2, 2.79) and Oklahoma (5-3, 5.10). He made his major league debut, appearing in 16 contests for the Rangers, going 2-1 with a 4.65 ERA. It marked the first time in Kolb's pro career that he was being used primarily as a reliever.
In 2000, Kolb only saw limited action with Oklahoma (4-1, 4 Sv, 0.98 in 13 games) and the big-league club (5 runs allowed in two-thirds of an inning) as he presumably was injured. The next year, 2001, Dan pitched for Charlotte (2-1, 3.76), Tulsa (1-0, 2 scoreless innings), Oklahoma (0-1, 3 Sv, 1.42 in 12 games) and the Rangers (4.70 ERA) as he rehabbed.
Continuing his whirlwind tour in 2002, Kolb pitched for Charlotte (1-0, 1.50), Tulsa (0-1, 2.16) and Texas (3-6, 1 Sv, 4.22 in 34 games).
Kolb became a free agent and signed with the Milwaukee Brewers for 2003. When Mike DeJean struggled, Dan was inserted into the closer's role. He went 1-2 with 21 saves and a 1.96 ERA for the Brewers, allowing a .220 batting average. The next year saw him go 0-4 with a 2.98 ERA and 39 saves, 8th in the National League. He pitched the second inning of the 2004 All-Star Game for the National League, retiring Ichiro Suzuki on a grounder, allowing a single to Ivan Rodriguez, getting Vladimir Guerrero on a fly out and Manny Ramirez to hit into a force play. Barry Larkin then pinch-hit for him in the bottom of the inning. During the 2004 season, Kolb had become the first pitcher in MLB history to save 30 games without striking out 30 batters. He said he preferred it that way - "I live and die for ground balls" - and that he'd rather get three ground outs on four pitches than strike out the side. He also set the Brewers record for saves in a season, though it was broken three years later by Francisco Cordero.
The Brewers traded Kolb to the Atlanta Braves for Jose Capellan and a player to be named later (who would be Alex Zumwalt. Kolb became the Atlanta closer in 2005 with John Smoltz returning to the rotation. He left an impression in spring training when he hit Ryan Langerhans to show that the inside part of the plate belonged to the pitcher. Kolb struggled badly for the Braves, though, going 3-8 with 11 saves in 18 opportunities and a 5.93 ERA. After years with ERA+s of 223 and 139, he fell to a 74.
Atlanta traded him back to Milwaukee in return for Wes Obermueller before the 2006 season. He had an up-and-down season with the Brewers, going 2-2 with 1 save and a 4.84 ERA. His ERA before the All-Star break was 6.28 and 2.75 after the break.
A free agent, Kolb signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates but failed to make the team out of spring training in 2007, as John Wasdin and Jonah Bayliss claimed the final bullpen spots from the right side. Kolb was assigned to the Indianapolis Indians. He went 2-1 with four saves and a 3.15 ERA in 16 games for the Indians, then was called up to shore up the bullpen when Matt Capps was about to start serving a suspension. Don Kelly was designated for assignment, reducing bench strength by one, to bring Kolb up.
Kolb pitched just three games for the Pirates, allowing 6 hits, 2 walks and 3 runs in 3 innings of work. Pittsburgh then cut him loose as Capps was again available and they promoted Brad Eldred to take his roster spot for one game before Josh Phelps replaced Eldred right afterward. Kolb did not return to the majors after that.
- NL All-Star (2004)
- 30 Saves Seasons: 1 (2004)