Born on April 5, 1978 in Galveston, Texas, Brandon Backe (Brandon Allen Backe) played for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and Houston Astros over the course of his 5 year career. Backe broke into the bigs on July 19, 2002 with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, and put up a 4.30 ERA in 67 innings pitched in 2004, his rookie year.
Most people believe that Brandon Backe's best season was 2005, when he posted a 4.76 ERA, won 10 games and struck out 97 batters.
Backe is an aggressive pitcher whose mindset will sometimes come back to bite him. He likes to attack hitters but doesn't have the fastball velocity or pure stuff to get away with mistakes, so when he isn't on top of his game he will usually get beat around. His mindset, however, is exactly why he's still in the major leagues. Pressure is nothing to him and he won't give in even after getting hit, allowing him to pitch deep into most games.
Backe features a fastball, curveball, slider and a changeup in his repertoire. His straight fastball tops out at 95 MPH, but he usually works off his heavy sinking fastball at around 91-92 MPH. His curveball is a big breaker that sits around 77 MPH which he uses as his strikeout pitch. His slider normally hits 83 MPH and is mostly used to give hitters something else to think about, and his 80 MPH change is almost exclusively used against left-handed hitters.
Hitting and Defense
Backe was drafted as a middle infielder and still enjoys hitting. He has the potential to turn into one of the better hitting pitchers in the game with legitimate extra-base power. He's a sound bunter but still has room to improve. On the bases, he runs better than most pitchers and can't be ignored. He will occasionally take the extra base and is a good overall baserunner.
Defensively, his middle infielder instincts seem to have carried over to the mound. He's very fast off the hill and makes strong, accurate throws. He has Gold Glove potential at the position.
Brandon Backe has become somewhat of a fan favorite in Houston, due in part to his phenomenal post season performances the past two years. He's turned in two of the best playoff starts in team history. One was in game five of the 2004 NLCS against the St. Louis Cardinals in which he went eight shut out innings, allowing just one hit and two walks. The other was in game four of the 2005 World Series against the Chicago White Sox in which he went seven shut out innings, allowing five hits and no walks. Unfortunately, he's had trouble translating these performances to the regular season and as such projects no better than a number three starter.
- Selected by Milwaukee Brewers in the 36th round of the free-agent draft - did not sign (June 4, 1996).
- Selected by Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 18th round of the free-agent draft (June 2, 1998 - signed June 5, 1998).
- Traded by Tampa Bay Devil Rays to Houston Astros in exchange for Geoff Blum (December 14, 2003).