07 December 2010

the evolution of the closer, part 3

here are parts 1 and 2 if you care to refresh your memory of the long and winding road the dodgers have used to close out games.

ready for part 3?  ok.

roger mcdowell (1992)
mcdowell took over closing duties for the worst dodger team of my lifetime.  the 1992 squad lost 99 games and had just 29 saves as a team.  mcdowell had 14 of them.  he appeared in 65 games and finished 39 of them.  he also won 6 and lost 10.

jim gott (1993)
even though the dodgers signed todd worrell prior to the 1993 season, gott was the one who claimed the closer role.  he saved 25 games with a 2.32 era.  worrell managed 5 saves but had an era of over 6.

todd worrell (1994-1997)
worrell began to regain his status as an elite closer in the strike shortened 1994 season.  he had 11 saves to lead the dodgers when the season ended in august.  his era was still over 4, but his strikeouts were up to over 1 per inning pitched.  in 1995, worrell had 32 of the dodgers 35 saves, with a 2.02 era to boot.  it was the first time in franchise history that a pitcher saved over 30 games.  the following year, worrell saved 44 games as the dodgers made a postseason appearance in back-to-back years for the first time since 1977/78.  of course, there were no saves to be had as they were swept in the nlds both years.  worrell saved 35 games in 1997, but his era was pretty high - 5.28 - and he retired after the season ended.  worrell sits in third place in the dodgers' career saves leaders with 127, just ahead of jim brewer at 125.
scott radinsky (1998)
scott radinsky began the 1998 season as the dodgers' closer, and posted 12 saves (and 7 blown saves) by the all start break, which is when the dodgers traded for jeff shaw.

jeff shaw (1998-2001)
shaw made his first appearance as a dodger in the 1998 all-star game, giving up a run on 3 hits.  he had 23 saves for the reds going into the break, and posted another 25 as a dodger.  in 1999, he had 34 saves, followed by 27 in 2000.  his final season in the majors was 2001 when he saved 43 games and returned to the all-star game, this time pitching just one-third of an inning in a national league loss.  with 129 saves, shaw ranks second all-time for the dodgers.

eric gagne (2002-2005)
gagne moved to the bullpen in 2002 and became 'game over' as he promptly blew most dodger relief records away.  he saved 52 games and posted 114 strikeouts in 82.1 innings - a 12.5 k/9 ratio - and finished 4th in the cy young voting.  he ended the season with 8 straight saves, carrying that streak into 2003.  in 2004, gagne saved 55 games, breaking his own dodger record set the previous year and coming within 2 of the all-time record (which has since been broken).  of course, gagne saved all 55 without blowing a single one (unless you count the all-star game) meaning he set a record with 63 consecutive saves (passing tom gordon who had 54 in a row).  he also won the cy young award that year, the second time a dodger reliever had won.  he again pitched in 82.1 innings, but this time, he struck out 137 batters for a closer record k/9 ratio of 15.  2004 was more of the same, with gagne saving 21 games in a row to bring his streak to 84 before blowing a save in july.  once again, he pitched in exactly 82.1 innings, and he struck out 114 just as he did in 2002.  he finished the season with 45 saves, and while the dodgers were back in the postseason, there were no saves to be had in the nlds.  gagne missed the first month of the season in 2005, but returned to save 8 games in 8 chances before his season ending injury in june.

yhency brazoban (2005)
brazoban stepped into the closer's role in gagne's absence and posted 21 saves on the year.  he also blew 6 save opportunities and lost 10 games in relief.  still, he was pegged as 'ghame over' at the dodger thoughts forum.

takashi saito (2006-2008)
the dodgers weren't frightened by the nori nakamura disaster of 2005 and signed japanese pitcher saito to a contract for 2006.  saito responded with 24 saves and 107 strikeouts in 78.1 innings as the dodgers won the wild card.  they were swept by the mets, though, so there were no postseason saves.  saito saved 39 games in 2007 and pitched a scoreless inning in the all-star game.  he started the 2008 season as the closer, and had 17 saves through mid-july, but jonathan broxton was ready to take over.  saito finished the season with 18 saves and left as a free agent after the season ended.

jonathan broxton (2008-present)
broxton saved 14 games for the dodgers in the second half of the 2008 season, and he saved the game 3 clincher against the cubs in the nlds.  in 2009, broxton had 36 saves and two more in the postseason - 1 against the cardinals in the nlds and one against the phillies in the league championship series.  although he earned the save in the 2010 all-star game, broxton struggled last year and was temporarily replaced as closer by hong-chih kuo.  we'll see how long the leash is that don mattingly gives broxton in 2011.

so, from joe black to jonathan broxton, there you have the evolution of the dodgers' closer.

1 comment:

Orioles Magic said...

I liked following the progression!