22 November 2010

the evolution of the closer, part 1

even though they weren't called closers back in joe black's day, i will start the evolution of the dodgers' firemen with the 1952 rookie of the year.

joe black (1952)
joe black pitched in 56 games for the dodgers that year, won 15 and 'saved' 15 others.  he led the league with 41 games finished.  it was quite a season in relief, and was a bit of an anomaly.  or perhaps an indication of what was going to become more of the norm in the future.

clem labine (1953, 1956-1959)
in 1953, the dodgers very much had a bullpen by committee, with clem labine leading the way

labine led the relief corps with 11 wins and a 2.77 era.  he also had 7 'saves', although jim hughes had 9 and appeared in more games (48 to labine's 37).

jim hughes (1954)
hughes clearly took over in 1954. he saved 24 games that year, but it was back to the committee in 1955 with hughes, labine and ed roebuck leading the way. 

ed roebuck (1955, 1960)
roebuck had 12 saves to lead the staff although his era was fairly high at 4.71.  he made one appearance in the 1955 world series, finishing off the dodgers' game 6 loss against the yankees.

clem labine was back at the helm in 1956 with 19 saves and 10 wins and in 1957 with 17 saves and 5 wins.  he had 14 saves and 6 wins with the la dodgers in 1958 to again pace the bullpen.  in 1959, labine again led the team in saves with 9, although there were a total of 9 dodger pitchers, including don drysdale and sandy koufax, who earned at least one save that year.  big d and sandy each had 2!

in 1960, roebuck saved 8 games and had a 2.78 era in his 58 appearances, all in relief.  he also won 8 games.  larry sherry, the mvp of the 1959 world series, pitched in with 7 saves and 14 wins, 13 in relief.

larry sherry (1961)
sherry moved to the top of the bullpen in 1961 with 15 saves in 52 relief appearances. 

ron perranoski (1962-1965)
ron perranoski appeared in 70 games in 1962, saving 20 with an era of 2.85.  he followed that up with a phenomenal season in 1963, winning 16 games and saving 21 in 69 games (129 innings pitched) while posting a 1.67 era. he finished 4th in the league mvp voting that season.  he also earned the save in game 2 of the world series that year, striking out clete boyer to preserve the dodgers' victory. 

perranoski followed that up with 14 saves in 1964 and 17 in 1965.  in 1966, however, he took a back seat to the vulture.

phil regan (1966)
regan appeared in 65 games for the 1966 dodgers, all in relief.  he went 14-1 with a 1.62 era and 21 saves.  his performance earned him an all-star berth and a 7th place finish in the mvp voting.

ron perranoski (1967)
perranoski was back in the saddle in 1967.  he relieved in 70 games and saved 16 of them.  but in 1968, perranoski was not around, and regan was sent to the cubs early on, so jim brewer took over.

jim brewer (1967-1973)
brewer took over the role (making the bullpen the 'brewer-y') with 8 wins and 14 saves in 54 games.  he had 20 saves in 1969 (the first year they became an official stat), 24 in 1970, 22 in 1971, 17 in 1972, and 20 in 1973 when he made the all-star team for the only time in his career.  he finished the game (although it wasn't a save situation with the national league up 7-1) by striking out thurman munson and willie horton.

in 1974, the dodgers would bring in a guy who would turn the closer role on its ear.  stay tuned.

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