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Your Random D-Back: Omar Daal

First complete game shutout in Diamondbacks’ history.


Curt Schilling.

It was the very first trade the Diamondbacks did with the Phillies, and what a trade. If it wasn’t for “that what we do not speak about”, Curt Schilling would have been the second Diamondbacks’ Hall-Of-Famer. Schilling formed a deadly 1-2 top of the rotation with ace Randy Johnson and was one of the main ingredients for the World Series title in 2001.

The path for that was laid in July 2000, which is when Schilling joined the Diamondbacks. Schilling hadn’t been on a competitive team in Philadelphia in his final years there and had requested a trade. He said goodbye to Philadelphia with a somewhat sarcastic: “I will leave here with nothing but the best memories on and off the field. I was booed so much less than I probably deserve to be booed here, which I don’t think too many people leaving Philly can say.” Yep, Schilling sure has never kept his mouth shut.

In return the Phillies got a decent haul. The players that went the other way were guided by Omar Daal. The Venezuelan had two very decent seasons in Arizona, in 1998 and 1999, pitching to 2.88 and 3.65 ERA, in 377.1 innings (55 starts and 65 games). But in 2000 he had troubles in the rotation and the switch to Philadelphia did him well. He did decent pitching in 2001 for Philadelphia and in 2002 for the Dodgers before seeing his career strand in Baltimore in 2003. Who is Omar Daal?

The early beginnings.

Omar was born in Maracaibo where he lived until he was 12 years old until moving with his family to the city of Valencia, in Venezuela as well. He played a bit of first base and outfield, positions where a lefty normally ends up, but he wasn’t much of a ball player so he had to pitch. He was good at it. In Valencia Daal played in the minor leagues on a team called the “Únicos”. A few years later he went to the well known team the “Magallanes”. While at a national showcase event in Barcelona in 1990, several scouts spot the lefty. One of them is an international scout of the Los Angeles Dodgers. His father starts negotiating a contract with the Dodgers and they eventually agree. He immediately joins the minor league teams in the Dominican Republic, but the Dodgers also have a pact to place players with the Leones de Caracas, one of the top teams in Venezuela, and so Daal also gets the opportunity to continue to play at home as well, at the age of 18. A bit of a sensitive move, because he and his family were fans of the Águilas de Zulia. In other words, he was like a D-Back fan who signs with the Dodgers. Although in this case, he tells, his entire family decided to switch sides.

Daal doesn’t have much of a fastball, averaging 85-87 mph “at best”, as he recalls. But it is his excellent control and his secondary offering that catches the eye, especially the excellent curveball. He showcases it mainly in a relief role. Daal gets a couple of opportunities as a starter, but from 1990 to 1992 he mostly pitches in relief for the Lions. He continues to do so once he makes the move to the States.

Moving into a starting role.

In 1994, while back in Venezuela and pitching in the Winter Leagues, he is offered the opportunity to pitch as a starter. He gets that same, occasional, opportunity in the USA as well from 1994 forward, although in the minor leagues. Eventually, he doesn’t pitch as a starter in the major leagues until 1996, when he has already been part of a trade that has sent him to the Montreal Expos.

Before that happens though, he has made his debut for the Dodgers, at just 21 years of age, in 1993.

I was pitching in Triple A in Albuquerque and I didn’t speak much English at the time. They called me and I didn’t understand what they were saying. I had an American roommate who answered for me and told me they were calling me up to the big leagues. I thought it was a joke. I immediately went to Philadelphia where the Dodgers were playing and the same day of my arrival I pitched two innings and the next day I was in action as well. - Omar Daal on his call-up, in an interview in 2020 (Spanish).

Daal is the only lefty on the pitching staff and stays with the big league team the rest of the year. In a 7 team West division LA plays .500 ball and Daal has the opportunity to throw a lot of pitches, but achieves an unimpressive 5.09 ERA in 35.1 innings (47 appearances).

In 1994 and 1995 he spends most time in AAA, getting moved up and down at will. At the highest level he is used only in specific match-ups, not specifically LOOGY because the at bat splits are pretty much in balance, although Daal achieves best success against left-handed batting, as can be expected.

At the end of the 1995 season Daal is traded to the Montreal Expos for a minor league pitcher that would never make it out of Class A, a trade that in 2010 somewhere on the internet makes the Top 50 of worst trades in Dodger’s history.

In 1996 he pitches really well for Montreal until mid August, both in short bursts as well in multiple innings, all in relief. Until August 14, 37 of his 52 appearances are scoreless and he has a solid 2.62 ERA. He then runs into a couple of games with troubles, but at the end of August the Expos decide to finally move him into a starting role. He makes his starting debut in the MLB on August 31 against the Padres. He goes 5 scoreless innings and strikes out 8, allowing a hit and 3 walks. A great debut. He opens 6 more games and wraps up the season with a 4.02 ERA and might profile as a back-end starter. Daal returns hopeful for the the 1997 season.

I had been pitching pretty well with Montreal the year before and two terrific seasons in Venezuela, and I thought “this is my moment”...I had been pitching in relief in 1996 and Felipe Alou gave me the opportunity to start. In 1997 I came with a mentality of “this is going to be my year”, starting games, I was hungry. I don’t know what happened, but everything went bad that year. - Omar Daal on the first deception in his baseball career, in an interview in 2020 (Spanish).

Things turn sour. Montreal shies away from deploying him in a starting role and in relief he pitches to a 9.79 ERA before being put on waivers and getting claimed by Toronto. He pitches a couple of games in relief in Toronto before being sent down and he asks the team if they are willing to deploy him in a starting role there. The team agrees.

Daal pitches well as a starter and by the end of the season returns to the major leagues for Toronto. The first two games he still covers innings in relief, but the final 3 games of the season he goes 7 innings against Randy Johnson and the Mariners, blanks the Yankees and finishes the season against the Orioles.

Picked by the Diamondbacks.

In the 1997 expansion draft he is the 16th pick of the Diamondbacks and the 31st in total. It will become a tough season for one of the two new franchises in baseball. Daal starts the season in relief, but Buck Showalter has no real argument to not deploy Omar Daal in a starting role and the Venezuelan grabs the opportunity in May with his left hand.

He eventually starts 23 games and pitches a total of 162.2 innings. Daal is one of few highlights in the desert in that 1998 season, pitching to a 2.88 ERA, the best of the team and 6th best in the league. All of his other stats are at least Top 20 in the league as well. He completes his first game against Cincinnati, on June 16, with 122 pitches. But he really makes history by achieving the team’s first complete game shutout on July 30. The state of the team though, doesn’t give him more than 8 wins in total.

In 1999 Daal is less effective, although he still achieves great results, now as a solid #2 behind Randy Johnson. The Diamondbacks are a much better team, and Daal himself goes on to pitch 214.2 innings in 32 starts, getting 16 wins. He finishes with a 3.65 ERA and another complete game shutout: on August 15 he blanks the Brewers, despite allowing 7 hits and 3 walks.

In the first two games of the 2000 season all is still well and Daal even pitches a complete game again, against the Padres. The following game against the Rockies he is hit hard though, allowing 8 runs in 5.1 innings. The millennium bug sets in and while Daal goes deep into games, he gives up too much runs and becomes a liability on the team. The team sticks to Daal in the rotation until July, when his ERA surpasses number 7, and not much later he is included in that second franchise-altering trade that brings Schilling to Arizona. Daal would finish the 2000 season with a terrible 4-19 Win-Loss record, the worst in the entire MLB.

End of a career.

Daal regains a bit of success in Philadelphia and becomes a #5, averaging 6 to 7 innings for the Phillies and a combined 4.52 ERA over 2000 and 2001. After the 2001 season he is dealt to the Dodgers where he is once again deployed a lot of times in middle relief, something he doesn’t like and even motivates him to request a trade. But he is eventually moved into the rotation again and finishes the season with a 3.90 ERA. After wrapping up the 2002 season Daal is set on finding a new starting opportunity somewhere else and as a free agent signs a two-year contract with the Baltimore Orioles, who promise to use him exclusively as a starter. In the AL he is certain he won’t get pulled for a pinch hitter as is the case in the NL. He will become the first left-handed starting pitcher in the rotation for the Orioles since 1998. But the contract with the Orioles soon turns into disaster.

I had a 2-year contract in Baltimore, for 2003 and 2004, but apart from throwing bad in 2003 I had a lot of troubles with my arm. The first three months I was in a lot of pain. I took pain killers and tried to change mechanics and the slot of my arm to avoid the pain. I landed for 3 months on the IL and in the final game of the season I noticed something wasn’t right. I rested in the off-season and at the beginning of the 2004 season each time I threw a ball in training I noticed the pain intensified. I eventually underwent rotator cuff surgery. After the season my agent was able to achieve a contract with the Yomiuri Giants [NPB in Japan, DBE]. But first they wanted to see me in action. I wasn’t able to throw a ball. So I decided to retire after that. - Omar Daal on the reason why he retired at 31 years of age, in an interview in 2020 (Spanish).

After that Daal quietly retires, apparently to Arizona. He briefly appears in the news again in 2011 when he supposedly coaches the little league team of his son in Mesa, but apart from that he seems to have left the baseball world pretty much behind.


Ah, Omar Daal...

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    ...I hadn’t realised he was actually that good for the Diamondbacks.
    (10 votes)
  • 41%
    ...I still remember seeing him fall of a cliff in 2000.
    (7 votes)
17 votes total Vote Now