Results tagged ‘ closer ’
Besides paying him lots and lots of money, the Yankees did very little to help Raffie Soriano feel comfortable or even wanted, when he first put on the pinstripes. He was coming off a league-leading 45-save, 2010 season with the Tampa Bay Rays and had declared free agency. Everyone assumed the Dominican right-hander would get signed to a huge contract by a team that badly needed a closer. Everybody was mostly wrong. Soriano got the huge contract alright, but it was with the Yankees, a team that already had the greatest closer who ever played the game in their bullpen. Not only would Soriano not be closing, the GM of his new team let it be publicly known that he was against his signing.
I had seen Soriano pitch with the Rays the previous two years and he certainly looked mean and intimidating on the mound. But after watching him try to acclimate to an eighth inning set-up role during his first season in New York, this new Yankee looked more unhappy when he was pitching than anything else. After holding opponents scoreless in his first two appearances, he got roughed up by the Twins for four runs in his third and finished his first month in New York with an ERA over seven. Than he got hurt in the middle of May and was on the DL for the next month and a half. By the time he got back, David Robertson had firmly ensconced himself in the Yankee’s eighth-inning set-up role and Soriano had to be wondering what his future was with his new team. But instead of sulking, he sucked it up and kept pitching and though he got roughed up a couple of times in the final two months of that 2011 season, I could tell the guy was a battler.
When the 2012 season started, the press crew covering the Yankees were all trying to figure out if it would be Mariano Rivera’s final year. Robertson’s brilliance in 2011 dictated he’d start the year as the eighth-inning set-up guy and Sori was once again expected to work the seventh. Then on May 3, the Yankees were taking batting practice in Kansas City and Rivera fell awkwardly on Kaufman Stadium’s center field warning track while pursuing a hard-hit ball off the bat of A-Rod. I’m sure lots of Yankee fans watching replays of Rivera being carted off the field felt New York’s hopes of making the postseason were being carted away with him.
I remember thinking how badly Soriano must have felt when Joe Girardi turned to Robertson in the first save situation the Yankees faced without Rivera, especially because the opponent was Soriano’s former team, the Rays. Robertson was successful in that first attempt but he blew the next save and then injured his ribs. Suddenly, Soriano was the new Yankee closer. Forty-two saves later he was arguably the most valuable Yankee of the 2012 regular season. Considering his shaky start the season before, it was a truly remarkable performance, one of the most clutch in franchise history.
After New York’s disappointing 2012 postseason, during which he pitched four and a third innings of scoreless ball, Soriano decided to take advantage of the opt-out clause in his Yankee contract and again become a free agent. Fortunately for New York, Mariano Rivera announced he was coming back in 2013. Still, losing Soriano represented a major depletion in the Yankees’ 2013 bullpen. I’m so glad Hal Steinbrenner overruled Cashman three years ago and insisted the Yankees sign this guy. Once he left New York, I actually missed seeing him stare inside his hat before facing a batter and untucking his jersey after nailing down a save. He ended up saving 43 games for the Nationals in 2013.
|SEA (5 yrs)||4||8||.333||2.89||116||8||31||0||0||4||171.0||134||57||55||16||53||177||1.094|
|ATL (3 yrs)||4||10||.286||2.95||162||0||85||0||0||39||161.2||107||56||53||19||51||188||0.977|
|NYY (2 yrs)||4||4||.500||2.94||111||0||62||0||0||44||107.0||88||35||35||10||42||105||1.215|
|TBR (1 yr)||3||2||.600||1.73||64||0||56||0||0||45||62.1||36||14||12||4||14||57||0.802|
|WSN (1 yr)||3||3||.500||3.11||68||0||58||0||0||43||66.2||65||24||23||7||17||51||1.230|
When Dave Righetti went 8-4 and was named AL Rookie of the Year during the Yankees’ strike-shortened 1981 season, the Big Apple media was ready to anoint the tall Californian the best New York lefty starter since Whitey Ford. “Rags” was no Ford but he was very good. His brilliant no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox on July 4, 1983 was an unforgettable moment in Pinstripe history and is still being rebroadcast as part of the Yankee Classics series on the YES Network.
When Goose Gossage left in 1984, New York needed a closer and they turned to Righetti. His biggest apprehension about going to the bullpen was that he sometimes struggled with his control and had a tendency to give up walks in streaks, a nightmare situation for a closer. As it turned out, Righetti made the transition from starter to stopper smoothly. He set the AL record, since broken, for most saves in a season in 1986, with 46. When he left New York to sign a free agent contract with San Francisco after the 1990 season, he was the Yankees all-time saves leader with 224.
Unfortunately for Rags, 1981 would be the last postseason appearance for New York for the next fourteen years. After he retired in 1994, he got into coaching and eventually landed the pitching coach position with the San Francisco Giants. He’s now won two rings in that role and is getting much deserved praise for his ability to get the most out of the Giant rotation and bullpen, despite injuries to key members of his staff and significant performance slumps by others. Dave was born in San Jose, CA on November 28, 1958.
|NYY (11 yrs)||74||61||.548||3.11||522||76||379||13||2||224||1136.2||999||448||393||65||473||940||1.295|
|SFG (3 yrs)||5||15||.250||4.61||166||4||87||0||0||28||197.1||201||107||101||19||81||129||1.429|
|OAK (1 yr)||0||0||16.71||7||0||1||0||0||0||7.0||13||13||13||3||9||4||3.143|
|CHW (1 yr)||3||2||.600||4.20||10||9||1||0||0||0||49.1||65||24||23||6||18||29||1.682|
|TOR (1 yr)||0||1||.000||6.75||13||0||6||0||0||0||13.1||9||10||10||2||10||10||1.425|
Before there could be a Rivera or Gossage or Lyle, there had to be a Joe Page. One of seven children, Page was born on October 28, 1917, the son of a Cherry Valley, Pennsylvania coal-miner. Page began his Yankee career as a starter in 1944 when he won five of his first six decisions and made the AL All Star team as a 27-year-old rookie. Page then hurt his shoulder in a fall while running the bases, kept the injury quiet from Yankee skipper Joe McCarthy and proceeded to lose his final six decisions that season. He was used mostly as a starter the next two seasons with mostly unspectacular results which is why he ended up in the place most under-performing starters ended up back in the forties, the bullpen. But instead of treating his new status as a bullpen pitcher as a demotion, Page seemed to relish it.
By 1947 he had evolved the role into one of baseball’s first great closers, leading the league in games finished for three straight seasons while winning 34 games in the process. When the “save” became an official Major League stat in 1969, baseball historians reviewed old box scores to apply it retroactively and found that Page led the league in saves in both 1947 and ’49, while saving 60 games over that three-season period. Page also appeared in two World Series, winning and saving a game in each Classic, both Yankee victories. After slumping to a 3-7 record in 1950 with an ERA that ballooned to over 5 runs per game, the Yankees released their first-ever ace closer. He tried an unsuccessful comeback with the Pirates a few years later before hanging it up for good.
Page was the first Yankee and first Major League reliever to reach the 20-save mark when he accumulated 27 in 1949. Sparky Lyle was the first Yankee to reach the 30-save mark when he had 35 in 1972. Dave Righetti became the first Yankee to break the 40-save barrier with his 46 in 1986 and the great Mariano Rivera is the only Yankee reliever to save 50 or more games and he’s done it twice, the first time in 2001.
Up until last evening, I had completely forgotten that Jeff Reardon appeared in his very last big league baseball game while wearing the Yankee pinstripes. I do remember at the end of the 1993 season that New York had let their regular closer, Steve Farr sign with the Indians as a free agent. When the Yanks did not sign or trade for Farr’s replacement that offseason, it looked as if they were going to depend on former NL Rookie of the Year and cocaine addict, Steve Howe to assume that role the following year. But just before the pitchers’ first scheduled workout at New York’s 1994 spring training camp, Yankee GM, Gene Michael announced the team had signed the 38-year-old Reardon to a minor league contract.
At the time, Reardon already had 15 seasons of relief pitching under his belt and was in second place behind Lee Smith, with 365 career saves. He had put together 40-save seasons for the Expos, Twins and Red Sox. Michael explained that there was absolutely no risk involved for the Yankees because Reardon’s $250,000 salary wasn’t guaranteed. The then 37-year-old right-hander had to make the Yankee roster to get paid and if he did, he could also earn a total of $750,000 in performance incentives. Reardon had been working on a knuckleball and was hoping the new pitch would earn him those bonuses and extend his career.
The man known as “the Terminator” made Buck Showalter’s Opening Day roster and saw lots of action that April, making ten appearances, earning two saves and getting his last-ever big league victory. Then on May 4th he was called into pitch in the seventh inning of a game against the Angels and allowed three runs, blowing the save. Two days later, the Yankees released him and this native of Pittsfield, MA retired to his home in Florida.
Eleven years later, he was arrested in a bizarre incident for robbing a Palm Beach Gardens’ jewelry store. Police later reported that Reardon had overmedicated on depression medicine and was not acting rationally. The pitcher was depressed because his 20-year-old son had died of a drug overdose a few weeks earlier.
|MON (6 yrs)||32||37||.464||2.84||359||0||281||0||0||152||506.1||416||172||160||40||178||398||1.173|
|MIN (3 yrs)||15||16||.484||3.70||191||0||177||0||0||104||226.1||206||95||93||28||55||185||1.153|
|NYM (3 yrs)||10||9||.526||2.65||97||0||59||0||0||10||159.2||135||54||47||14||68||139||1.271|
|BOS (3 yrs)||8||9||.471||3.41||150||0||127||0||0||88||153.0||146||60||58||20||42||109||1.229|
|CIN (1 yr)||4||6||.400||4.09||58||0||32||0||0||8||61.2||66||34||28||4||10||35||1.232|
|NYY (1 yr)||1||0||1.000||8.38||11||0||8||0||0||2||9.2||17||9||9||3||3||4||2.069|
|ATL (1 yr)||3||0||1.000||1.15||14||0||11||0||0||3||15.2||14||2||2||0||2||7||1.021|
This Big Apple native son was the first great Yankee reliever. He had come up to the Yankees as a starter in 1934, winning 14 games in his rookie season. It was only after the Yankees paid him a starter’s salary that he agreed to the pleadings of then Manager Joe McCarthy, to become one of baseball’s first full-time relief specialists. During the next eight years he led the AL in relief victories six times and in saves, four times.
How important was Murphy to the Yankee’s great success during the late thirties? When New York’s Hall-of-Fame hurler, Lefty Gomez was asked how he felt before a big game, he responded, “How I feel isn’t important. The important thing is how Murphy feels!” McCarthy liked to refer to Murphy as “My pennant insurance.” Murphy was given the nickname “Fireman” and was so dominant in his role that that same nickname became the term used to describe each team’s best bullpen pitcher. In all, Murphy pitched 12 seasons in pinstripes with all but one of those seasons coming before he entered military service in 1943. He finished his Yankee career with a record of 93-53 and 107 saves. He then became a front office executive with the Red Sox and then the Mets. He passed away in 1970, at the age of 71.
|1944||Did not play in major leagues (Military Service)|
|1945||Did not play in major leagues (Military Service)|
|NYY (12 yrs)||93||53||.637||3.54||383||40||277||17||0||104||990.1||944||447||389||51||416||369||1.373|
|BOS (1 yr)||0||0||2.80||32||0||16||0||0||3||54.2||41||17||17||1||28||9||1.262|
This devout Christian was the Lord and saver of the Yankee bullpen in 1970 when he saved 29 games, won 9 of 14 decisions and posted a 2.01 ERA in 62 relief appearances. He had come to New York in a 1968 trade with San Francisco for Bill Monboquette. Born in Hollis, OK, in 1935, McDaniel was 32 years-old at the time of that deal and had already posted 97 big league wins and 112 career saves, mostly as a Cardinal. He pitched five plus seasons for New York, compiling a 39-29 record in pinstripes and 58 more career saves. Even his departure from the team was productive for the Yankees when he was traded to the Royals after the 1973 season because it brought Lou Piniella’s bat to the Bronx. Lindy retired after the 1975 season, his 21st year in the big leagues, with 141 wins and 172 career saves. He also holds the distinction of being the last Yankee pitcher to hit a home run.
|STL (8 yrs)||66||54||.550||3.88||336||63||188||15||2||64||884.2||920||432||381||83||258||523||1.332|
|NYY (6 yrs)||38||29||.567||2.89||265||3||186||1||0||58||544.2||486||194||175||43||156||363||1.179|
|SFG (3 yrs)||12||11||.522||3.45||117||3||49||0||0||9||213.2||202||98||82||12||64||150||1.245|
|CHC (3 yrs)||19||20||.487||3.06||191||0||114||0||0||39||311.2||301||120||106||25||97||238||1.277|
|KCR (2 yrs)||6||5||.545||3.75||78||5||40||2||0||2||184.2||190||90||77||9||48||87||1.289|
When I was a kid, we’d eat dinner at my Grandmother’s house most Sundays with our entire extended family. As a result, I watched plenty of Sunday afternoon televised Yankee games with my uncle. I was a much more passionate Yankee fan than he was and once the Yankee dynasty crumbled in 1965, he would annoy me by making snide derogatory comments about how bad the team was playing. For example, if a Yankee starter faltered and a reliever was inserted, no matter who came out of the bullpen I could count on my uncle to exclaim, “Not this guy for God’s sakes, even I can hit this guy!”
I’ll never forget the game in late June during the 1970 season when that statement was actually made truthfully. Steve Hamilton had been a very good bullpen pitcher for New York since he was acquired from the Washington Senators in a 1963 trade for Jim Coates. He was 6’7″ tall and a superb athlete, good enough to have played two seasons of NBA basketball in the late fifties for the Lakers. He had performed a variety of pitching roles for New York during his career in pinstripes. He pitched parts of eight seasons for the Yankees, accumulating a 34-20 record, with 36 saves and a 2.78 ERA in 486 innings of work. Manager Ralph Houk would give the big guy a start every now and then and in 1968, used him as New York’s closer and Hamilton led the team with 11 saves that year.
On this particular June day, Sam McDowell and the Indians were killing the Yankees. Houk put Hamilton into pitch the top of the ninth. Hamilton, who was born in Columbia, KY in 1935, was a very funny guy in the clubhouse and on that day, with the game already lost, he decided to have some fun on the field as well. The first hitter he faced was Tony Horton. He had been working on a blooper pitch, which had been nicknamed the “Folly Floater” and had used it against Horton successfully in an game earlier that same season. He decided to employ the pitch again against the Indian first baseman. Hamilton threw Horton two straight folly floaters and Horton almost came out of his spikes trying to hit the softly tossed lobs. Horton fouled both of them off weakly and Thurman Munson caught the second one for an out. Horton’s reaction was hilarious as he tossed his helmet high in the air and actually crawled back into the Indian’s dugout on his hands and knees.
I was amazed to find out that the above clip of this event was actually available on You Tube. Take a look for yourself and see why I finally could agree that a Yankee pitcher threw a pitch even I could hit.
|NYY (8 yrs)||34||20||.630||2.78||311||7||140||2||1||36||486.0||389||163||150||36||150||389||1.109|
|WSA (2 yrs)||3||9||.250||3.95||44||10||13||1||0||2||109.1||108||54||48||10||41||84||1.363|
|CHC (1 yr)||1||0||1.000||4.76||22||0||12||0||0||0||17.0||24||9||9||1||8||13||1.882|
|CLE (1 yr)||0||0||3.00||2||0||0||0||0||0||3.0||2||1||1||0||3||4||1.667|
|SFG (1 yr)||2||2||.500||3.02||39||0||16||0||0||4||44.2||29||15||15||4||11||38||0.896|
|CHW (1 yr)||0||0||6.00||3||0||0||0||0||0||3.0||4||2||2||0||1||3||1.667|
The 1961 New York Yankee team was loaded with talent at every position, except one. They had no closer. Ryne Duren was supposed to fulfill that role but he was a serious alcoholic and by 1961, his drinking and his behavior when drinking had gotten completely out of hand. New York traded the troubled Duren to the Angels and manager Ralph Houk eventually replaced him with a Puerto Rican screwballing lefthander named Luis Arroyo.
At the time Arroyo was already 34-years old. He had made his big league debut seven seasons earlier, with the Cardinals, going 11-8 as a starter in his rookie season and making the 1955 NL All Star team. The following year, Fred Hutchinson was hired to manage St Louis and Old Hutch did not like Arroyo. Instead of getting the opportunity to make his second NL All Star team, Luis first found himself back in the minors as the ’56 season started and then traded to Pittsburgh. He spent the next four years battling a sore arm and developing a screw ball. By the time he joined the Yankees in 1960, his arm had healed and he had perfected his new signature pitch. He went 5-1 in his first season in New York setting the stage for his magical year in 1961.
Arroyo appeared in 65 games that season, finishing 54 of them. He compiled a 15-5 record and saved 29 games. He relieved Whitey Ford 24 times that season and saved 13 of the Yankee aces 25 wins. Arroyo’s ERA was 2.19. Topping that off, he hit .280 that year and pitched four shutout innings and got a win in the ’61 World Series against Cincinnati, gaining some revenge on Fred Hutchinson, who by then was the Reds’ Manager.
Unfortunately for Arroyo, that great screwball he developed has also been described as the reason why he again developed a sore pitching arm. That sore arm limited him to just 27 appearances in 1962 and just 3 the following year. The Yankees released Luis at the end of the 1963 season.
|NYY (4 yrs)||22||10||.688||3.12||127||0||89||0||0||43||199.1||158||77||69||12||91||142||1.249|
|PIT (2 yrs)||6||14||.300||4.69||72||12||19||1||0||1||159.1||187||93||83||24||43||118||1.444|
|STL (1 yr)||11||8||.579||4.19||35||24||6||9||1||0||159.0||162||80||74||22||63||68||1.415|
|CIN (1 yr)||1||0||1.000||3.95||10||0||5||0||0||0||13.2||17||11||6||0||11||8||2.049|
I never agreed with the the Yankee’s decision to sign the Goose as a free agent during the 1977 post season. Sparky Lyle had just won the AL Cy Young Award the season before and the Yankees had won the World Series. They did not need a closer and adding another one to the team was the type of overkill that could only end up disrupting team chemistry in the long run. When I read about Gossage’s signing, I figured Lyle was a goner and I had always been a fan of the “Count.”
I was wrong about Lyle being a goner in 1978. The Yankees did figure out a pretty effective way to keep Lyle in the mix but Gossage emphatically took over the closer’s role and remained the ace of the Yankee pen for a half-dozen seasons, saving 150 games and winning 41 more in the process.
The Yankees finally traded Lyle in 1979, sending him to Texas in a multiplayer deal that put Dave Righetti in Pinstripes. Goose’s shower room brawl with Cliff Johnson helped ruin the Yankee’s 1979 season but in 1980, a big young right-hander named Ron Davis became the Yankee’s set-up man and he and Gossage teamed to deliver what I still consider to be some of the best relief pitching I have ever seen. Unfortunately, George Brett’s three-run shot of Goose in the third game of the AL playoffs that season was not a great moment in Yankee history.
Goose was indeed a monster on the mound and deserves being in Cooperstown but I still think his signing was a matter of greed and not need on the part of Yankee management. Goose was born on this date in 1951, in Colorado Springs, CO.
Goose shares his July 5th birthday with this 1965 winner of the AL Rookie of the Year Award, this former Yankee pitcher and pitching coach and this one-time Yankee starting pitcher from the late thirties.
|NYY (7 yrs)||42||28||.600||2.14||319||0||272||0||0||151||533.0||390||150||127||31||185||512||1.079|
|CHW (5 yrs)||29||36||.446||3.80||188||37||80||16||0||30||584.2||534||269||247||34||288||419||1.406|
|SDP (4 yrs)||25||20||.556||2.99||197||0||157||0||0||83||298.0||255||109||99||19||92||243||1.164|
|OAK (2 yrs)||4||7||.364||3.78||69||0||25||0||0||1||85.2||81||37||36||11||45||66||1.471|
|SFG (1 yr)||2||1||.667||2.68||31||0||22||0||0||4||43.2||32||16||13||2||27||24||1.351|
|PIT (1 yr)||11||9||.550||1.62||72||0||55||0||0||26||133.0||78||27||24||9||49||151||0.955|
|TEX (1 yr)||4||2||.667||3.57||44||0||16||0||0||1||40.1||33||16||16||4||16||28||1.215|
|CHC (1 yr)||4||4||.500||4.33||46||0||33||0||0||13||43.2||50||23||21||3||15||30||1.489|
|SEA (1 yr)||3||0||1.000||4.18||36||0||21||0||0||1||47.1||44||23||22||6||15||29||1.246|
The consensus was that Ryne Duren was the best reliever in all of baseball in 1958. This near-sighted monster on the mound used to throw 100 mph warm-up pitches five feet off the plate to unnerve on-deck hitters. The Yankees got him in the same 1957 trade with Kansas City that ended Billy Martin’s pinstriped playing career. GM George Weiss then sent the wild right-hander to New York’s Denver farm club to work on his control for the rest of that season. The move worked. Duren went 13-2 in the Mile High City and more importantly lowered his bases on balls from more than one per inning to less than one every three innings. He joined the parent club in 1958 and absolutely dominated opposing teams in the late innings of Yankee ball games, leading the league in saves and striking out 87 batters in the 75 innings he pitched that year. He also won and saved a game in the 1958 World Series, helping New York avenge their 1957 Fall Classic defeat to the Braves. While Duren may have learned how to control his fastball, he couldn’t figure out how to control his drinking and the guy was a mean drunk. In the end, alcohol dependency destroyed his career but his eventual ability to overcome it created another one for him as a substance abuse counselor. He is credited with helping many active and ex big league ballplayers kick the habit. Duren was born in Cazanovia, Washington in 1929.
|NYY (4 yrs)||12||15||.444||2.75||131||2||81||0||0||43||206.1||118||70||63||15||139||257||1.246|
|PHI (3 yrs)||6||2||.750||3.38||41||7||19||1||0||2||101.1||80||43||38||6||57||95||1.352|
|LAA (2 yrs)||8||21||.276||4.86||82||17||25||1||1||10||170.1||140||108||92||14||132||182||1.597|
|KCA (1 yr)||0||3||.000||5.27||14||6||2||0||0||1||42.2||37||26||25||4||30||37||1.570|
|WSA (1 yr)||1||1||.500||6.65||16||0||8||0||0||0||23.0||24||17||17||0||18||18||1.826|
|CIN (1 yr)||0||2||.000||2.89||26||0||10||0||0||1||43.2||41||17||14||1||15||39||1.282|
|BAL (1 yr)||0||0||9.00||1||0||0||0||0||0||2.0||3||3||2||0||1||2||2.000|