April 9 – Happy Birthday Graeme Lloyd

If you have been a Yankee fan for at least the past couple of decades, chances are that you agree that 1996 and 1998 were two of your all-time favorite baseball seasons. In 96 the Bombers weren’t picked to win anything and ended up winning everything, terminating a drought that had lasted for 18 years. Then two years later, the 1998 team put together the greatest season in franchise history. I don’t think it was a coincidence that the Yankees picked up Graeme Lloyd during the 96 season, just to get out tough lefty hitters in late-inning situations. By 1998, this 6’7″ Aussie had perfected that role and helped make the Yankee bullpen the envy of baseball.

The Yankee team of the mid nineties had a hunger and a team-spirit they have had a difficult time replicating. Veteran specialty role players like Lloyd, who had no ego and knew exactly what was expected of him, helped nurture this positive environment.

One of my all-time favorite “weird” Yankee moments was when Lloyd charged the mound and threw one of the funniest looking punches I have ever seen at Oriole reliever Armando Benitez, during a 1998 early-season contest with the Orioles. Both team’s benches and bullpens had cleared after Benitez threw a pitch at Tino Martinez.

Lloyd also pitched for the Mets in 2003, in what was his last season in the big leagues.

A decade after Lloyd pitched in the Yankee bullpen, this fireballing reliever, also born on April 9th, did the same. This long-ago starting pitcher shares their birthday.

Year Tm W L W-L% ERA G GS GF CG SHO SV IP H R ER HR BB SO WHIP
1996 NYY 0 2 .000 17.47 13 0 0 0 0 0 5.2 12 11 11 1 5 6 3.000
1997 NYY 1 1 .500 3.31 46 0 17 0 0 1 49.0 55 24 18 6 20 26 1.531
1998 NYY 3 0 1.000 1.67 50 0 8 0 0 0 37.2 26 10 7 3 6 20 0.850
10 Yrs 30 36 .455 4.04 568 0 175 0 0 17 533.0 560 274 239 51 161 304 1.353
MIL (4 yrs) 7 16 .304 3.67 183 0 62 0 0 7 193.2 190 87 79 16 53 99 1.255
NYY (3 yrs) 4 3 .571 3.51 109 0 25 0 0 1 92.1 93 45 36 10 31 52 1.343
MON (2 yrs) 11 8 .579 4.81 125 0 42 0 0 6 101.0 115 59 54 11 29 61 1.426
KCR (1 yr) 0 2 .000 10.95 16 0 4 0 0 0 12.1 29 18 15 0 7 8 2.919
NYM (1 yr) 1 2 .333 3.31 36 0 12 0 0 0 35.1 39 16 13 2 7 17 1.302
FLA (1 yr) 2 2 .500 4.44 25 0 5 0 0 0 26.1 26 13 13 1 11 20 1.405
TOR (1 yr) 5 3 .625 3.63 74 0 25 0 0 3 72.0 68 36 29 11 23 47 1.264
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/23/2014.

3 Comments

You may or may not have the answer to this, but how old is the lefty specialist phenomenon?
-Mateo
http://mateofischer.mlblogs.com

Hello Mateo. The earliest specialist I personally remember was Jim Kaat toward the end of his career in the late seventies but I gotta believe there were others before him. I think prior to free agency, there was too much of a stigma attached to such a limited role for a pitcher. But I’m sure every Manager since the beginning of time has pre-selected a pitcher on their staff they would insert at a key moment of a game to get get a better match-up against an opposing hitter.

Ah, Kaat became a lefty specialist? Interesting,thank you for letting me know

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