Other pitching possibilities

This is always a tough bit, and I’m sure I’ll miss somebody. Anyway, the best-known reliever I haven’t covered yet is certainly Scott Proctor, who had two good years of bullpen workhorse work with the Yankees and Dodgers (traded for Wilson Betemit!) after two years Jeff Dedmon wouldn’t sign for, and who went down with an arm injury and missed most of 2008 and all of 2009. He had Tommy John surgery in May, and I wouldn’t expect him to be ready to start the season, though the Braves are optimistic. I also am a bit dubious that he’s a good fit for the type of bullpen Bobby is running, which is based upon short outings. He’s not a shutdown guy, he’s a former starter who is useful for a couple of innings to keep a game under control.

The Braves surely will supplement O’Flaherty with a second LOOGY, and if it’s not Reyes the top candidates would appear to be Mariano Gomez and Michael Dunn. Gomez, who at least has a good name for a reliever, is a non-roster invitee, a minor league journeyman out of the Indians organzation who put up a 1.99 ERA for Gwinnett last year but couldn’t get into Turner Field without a ticket. Considering his terrible strikeout rate (4.5 per nine, no thanks) I tend to think that the ERA is a fluke. Dunn was the third man coming over in the Vazquez trade. He’s a converted outfielder who was then converted from starter to relief a couple of years ago. He put up good numbers in the Yankees’ high minors, but was knocked around pretty badly when he was called up to the majors. He’s still a work in progress, but if he improves his control could be more than a LOOGY.

One of the peculiarities of last season is that the Braves didn’t give more of a look to Luis Valdez, who got into only three major league games despite doing a fine job as Gwinnett’s closer (27 saves, 3.28 ERA, 9.5 K/9). It was his second strong year as a reliever in the Braves’ system after several seasons of looking hapless with the Pirates. Minor league closers basically grow on trees, and few of them ripen into anything palatable, but I’d like to see Valdez get a shot.

Jesse Chavez is not a member of a boy band, but another refugee from the Pirates system, coming over via the Rays as the disappointing return for Rafael Soriano. The Pirates may have actually done him some good, as he had terrible control when his minor league career began with the Rangers, but it’s been quite good in the Pirates’ minors the last two seasons. He hasn’t pitched that well in the majors, putting up a 4.01 ERA last year. Chavez throws hard, but didn’t strike a lot of people out last season. If the Braves can improve him to the same degree they did Valdez, they might really have something. Though I’d rather have had the draft pick.

The incumbent AAAA swingmen are Todd Richmond Redmond and James Parr. Parr’s been called up each of the last two years; after not being wholly terrible as a starter in 2008, he didn’t do too well in a few relief outings last year. Richmond Redmond could easily have been called up instead. Another ex-Pirate, he’s seemingly settled in as a guy who takes the ball every fifth day for Gwinnett while hoping that Tim Hudson catches a cold at the right time.

The Prodigal Poser, Chris Resop, has returned from Japan, and the Braves gave him, his 100 MPH fastball, and apparent complete lack of skill a NRI. I have no idea what he did in the Japanese league last year and I don’t care either, but there’s no reason for him to be in the Braves’ plans unless he had a brain transplant.

Most of the Braves pitching prospects (if we’re saying that Hanson and Medlen are now established) are way down the ladder. The one guy who climbed the ladder last year was Craig Kimbrel. Kimbrel is considered a future closer, and played in all four levels of the minors last season. His control is bad. Like really bad. Dalkowski bad. In his longest stop last season, in Myrtle Beach, he walked more than a man an inning. On the other hand, he struck out more than a man and a half an inning. The Braves gave him a spring invite, presumably for entertainment’s sake; he may be up later in the season, but I can’t imagine how he could be ready for a big league job right now.

Scott Proctor Statistics and History – Baseball-Reference.com
Mariano Gomez Minor League Statistics & History – Baseball-Reference.com
Michael Dunn Statistics and History – Baseball-Reference.com
Luis Valdez Statistics and History – Baseball-Reference.com
Jesse Chavez Minor League Statistics & History – Baseball-Reference.com
Todd Redmond Minor League Statistics & History – Baseball-Reference.com
James Parr Statistics and History – Baseball-Reference.com
Chris Resop Statistics and History – Baseball-Reference.com
Craig Kimbrel Minor League Statistics & History – Baseball-Reference.com

115 thoughts on “Other pitching possibilities”

  1. Don’t want to hijack this thread with SEC COY talk but in response to the Stallings comment on the last thread: I think it has less to do with jealousy for Cal and more to do with respect the respect Stallings has around the league. Cal wasn’t and shouldn’t have been a shoe in for the award.

  2. When you call Todd Redmond, Richmond, maybe you secretly hope he’ll be playing there.

    It’s Todd Richard Redmond. Richmond appears to be a smushing together of his middle and last names. That can be fun. I can’t believe all we got for Soriano was Jesse Davez.

    I also liked what Valdez had to offer last season but he seems to have fallen square into the Buddy Hernandez zone where the team has made up their mind that he’s not a major leaguer, minor league numbers be damned.

  3. One more then I’m getting back to work.

    From Verducci:

    The only thing louder than the buzz surrounding Braves outfield prospect Jason Heyward is the sound of the ball coming off his bat. The buzz is reminiscent of the noise for Albert Pujols in 2001 and Ken Griffey Jr. in 1989, when Pujols, then 21, and Griffey, then 19, simply were too good for their clubs to send them back to the minors. Heyward, 20, is that good.

  4. “I can’t believe all we got for Soriano was Jesse Davez” – Robert

    I cant believe there was another team wanting a $7 mil reliever with an injury history. I was pleased that Wren was able to move him and not have to pay a portion of the salary. Chavez has good stuff also

  5. @7

    Didn’t we also just sign a 38 year old reliever for 7MM, who also has an injury history? Or, are you saying we took a big risk just like the Rays did?

  6. Bobby rode Soriano like the proverbial rented mule last year. So I think the Braves are taking a gamble on him not being that good this year.

    Jamie Richmond was one of the guys we traded to the As to get the pleasure of playing Kotsay. His upside was..Redmond ! Yea, Valdez seems to be stuck in Buddy zone. Another reliever prospect I like is Gearrin. But he is stuck behind 2 pretty good sidearmers.

  7. Yeah, the ‘Soriano was a big injury risk so we spent the money on Wagner and Saito instead’ is an interesting take. It seems like the team just soured on Sori for whatever reason.

  8. While I agree there is a risk with Wagner, I don’t think it’s that high. Certainly not as high as Sori’s. Wagner had a long, injury-free career, and proved towards the end of last year that he had overcome his one major injury.

  9. Topic for debate:

    Under Bobby’s reign, would you characterize the Braves as a “smart” baseball team?

    Truly, Vandy fans already have their reward. ;)

  10. I would characterize the last few years or decade as Bobby overmanaging (his loyalty to some is mind-boggling) and a lack of execution on the players part. I understand why Bobby calls for hit and runs, I also understand his old school logic of sac bunts (dont agree, but understand). However, I dont understand how the majority of our players suck at executing bunts.

  11. Derek Lowe threw an 84mph fastball today. Derek Lowe blamed his poor outing on a toe blister. I can’t make stuff like this up if I wanted to.

  12. A toe injury is bad news for him. He’s going to be backing up third a lot this year. Could get painful.

  13. The Braves were a smarter team when they had better players. In recent years, they have had a number of defensively and base-running-challenged players. That tends to make a team look less smart. Interestingly, as I recall,when Bobby managed Toronto, they were considered underachievers because they did a lot of dumb baseball plays in big games.

  14. I honestly feel bad for Scott Proctor, who spent four years over two teams having Joe Torre run him into the ground, and now gets the opportunity for Bobby to do the same thing.

    On a side note, I think it’s time to call it for Greg Norton being worse than Omar Moreno and move on to Chris Woodward’s march for worst Brave ever.

  15. I laughed really hard during this post, several times. Most notably during the Poser paragraph. Hilarious.

    Thank you, Mac, for making me laugh like that.

  16. Jesus Sucre’s stats from Rome and Myrtle Beach make him look like Francoeur in utero, but everyone deserves to be a hero for at least one day.

  17. Today, one of my office Met fans asked me if he should draft Jason Heyward on his fantasy team.

    “Sure, go for it, especially if you don’t mind having him beat up on the Mets.”

  18. The next poll question should be “Do you want Heyward to start the season in the majors?”

  19. When Goose Gossage was making the press rounds after being elected to the HoF, he was often asked what it was like to play for Billy Martin. Most interviewers seemed ready to hear some spicy or rosy stories about ol’ Billy the Kid.

    But Goose hated Billy & would tell these stories about how awful Martin really could be. He repeated a story about how in Spring Training he refused to hit Billy Sample in the head, defying a Martin order, which he saw as some kind of petty loyalty test.

    I think it was on YES (aka al-Yankzeera) where a Billy question was followed up with, “Well, there has to be something you liked about playing for Billy Martin, right?”


  20. Goose is great, I’ve been doing alot of reading lately (thanks for all the books guys!) some good stuff on him and Martin. One of the side effects of the surgery has been I’ve lost my ability to speak, I’ve never seen my wife so happy….

    I dont think Bobby is a good X and O’s manager, but I think he has the ability to get the most out of mediocre players. He does tend to run the bullpen into the ground, but he is loyal to a T to his guys, and they will go to the ends of the earth to win for him. I’m scared to death of what he might do to Saito and Wagner this season, maybe they should alternate days, or use Moylan more, I dont know, but thats the one area that concerns me….at least Francouer and Norton are gone.

  21. Moylan pitched in 87 games last year, good for 20th all time for games pitched in a season. I’m not sure more Moylan is really possible but if anyone can do it, it’s Bobby.

    Interestingly, Mike Marshall holds the record for most pitching appearances in both the AL (90) and NL (106). Didn’t know that.

  22. I just read Posnanski’s book on the 75 Reds, and he devoted a few pages to Mike Marshall and his ability to pitch so often out of the pen. Interestingly he got hurt in 75 and from that point on the Reds got really hot and ran away from the Dodgers. I think Marshall has a PhD in kinesiology or something like that, and wrote a thesis on pitching mechanics.

    As for Cox, I don’t mind him using the relievers a lot when needed, but when there’s a mop up situation he needs to use the mop up guys. You could probably save 5-10 appearances a year on the key guys by letting the middle inning guys pitch multiple innings, especially when the game is out of hand.

  23. Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz could sure make a team (and manager) look awfully smart.

  24. Mike Marshall is a weird guy. We have an assistant coach on our team that worked with Marshall after our coach was released by the Mariners. Marshall added 5mph to his fastball by changing all of his mechanics. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen this “Marshall delivery”, but it looks incredibly odd, but guys seem to never have injuries with it and they usually add a lot of movement and a lot of velocity. Our coach thinks the only reason people aren’t using it in the major leagues is because Mike Marshall is a colossal douche and no one wants to listen to him.

  25. Real Sports on HBO did a feature on Marshall last year. The delivery he champions is indeed weird, but he seems like a pretty smart though eccentric guy.

  26. I have studied Mike Marshall’s approach and I’m pretty sure he’s right about most things. (Question: how the hell do you hold a runner with that approach?)

    But his approach is SO vastly different than what is taught today that I doubt it will ever catch on.

    One of his acolytes was kind enough to spend an afternoon with my son and me and I could see the merits. Adopting his approach would likely lessen arm injuries.

    Still, it will take a while for the “Marshall School” to catch on – if it ever does. His web address is: http://www.drmikemarshall.com


  27. ‘I think it was on YES (aka al-Yankzeera)’ – LOL.

    Mike Marshall the pitcher, an intellectual in baseball. Turd in a punch bowl. Plus abrasive is a kind description of his personality.

  28. Obviously tix are available on the web and at the box office, but I’m just looking for any useful local knowledge.

  29. #45–(Which is Derek Lowe’s actual number)Yeah, with Lowe the good times continue to roll….

  30. More and more intellectuals are getting hired to front offices, though, from Ivy grads with business degrees to Tom Tango and Bill James. The relative blackballing of Marshall is weird — though maybe he really is that much of an asshole and that much of an iconoclast.

    Still, I don’t understand why a terrible team doesn’t take a flier. If the Pirates are willing to sign two Indian kids from a reality show who have literally never played baseball before, why not see if Dr. Mike can help their pitchers stop getting injured?

  31. I’ve studied Mike Marshall’s approach and my guess is he’s right. But it is SO very different than what has always been taught that I doubt it will ever catch on. However, if just one guy shows up with those mechanics and blows people away – well, it’s a copycat league (rapidly eclipsing “at the end of the day” as the most aargh-inducing cliche currently extant).

    An acolyte of his was kind enough to spend and afternoon with my son and me a few years ago. It’s fascinating, but radically different. The truth may be as Willie says, “He ain’t wrong, he’s just different.”

    Worth a look, imo – http://www.drmikemarshall.com

  32. Goose is great in a “Shit My Dad Says” sort of way, but he’s got a pretty high opinion of himself, and isn’t afraid to share it. I agree with his sentiments about K-Rod though, even if i find his motivation a little suspect.

  33. #53
    Yeah, I’ve heard Goose even slight Mariano Rivera, as in, “Well, he usually pitches just one inning. Back in my day…”

    He’s right, of course, but #42 is a tough one to pick on.

  34. DLowe is like the really hot girlfriend who always seems to have a problem with her plumbing.

  35. Gonna miss Merlin Olsen:
    Helluva football player, pretty good announcer. Actor, well, he tried hard.
    An iconic sports figure for my generation.

  36. hankonly wins the “made me nauseous” award today that my wife won yesterday when she sent me the news story about the chef making cheese out of breast milk.

  37. Rich “Goose” Gossage career ERA+ – 126
    Mariano Rivera career ERA+ – 202

    Mariano Rivera pitches 1 inning at a time because that’s the way the game is played these days.

    If Goose Gossage were limited largely to 1 inning appearances by his managers, there’s no way he’d be anywhere close to as good as Mariano Rivera is at it.

  38. Well in fairness to the Goose his usage pattern pretty much guaranteed he’d have a higher ERA+ than Mariano. He also has nearly double the IP. Mariano never had seasons like Goose’s 1977/78. And there is something to the idea that those 2 plus inning saves ought to be “worth” more in the scheme of things. Having said that, Mo is probably the greatest reliever to play the game, even allowing for a decline to come.

  39. If Goose Gossage were limited largely to 1 inning appearances by his managers, there’s no way he’d be anywhere close to as good as Mariano Rivera is at it.

    And you know this because?

    That’s a little like insulting Albert Pujols for usually only batting once an inning.

    Nope. There’s no getting around the fact that being a relief ace these days is much, much easier than it was in Goose’s day.

  40. Marshall teaches an entirely different set of pitching mechanics. The foot work is different, the arm angles are different, and so it would be really hard for an organization to hire him. To do that, everyone on the pitching side of the organization would have to be believers, and, probably because of his personality, he doesn’t have the supporters. The Pirates or whoever couldn’t just hire him to be their pitching coach. He would go crazy or make his pitchers crazy by trying to change the basic fundamentals of their mechanics after they’ve been doing it the conventional way for who knows how many years.

    From our coach who has personally worked with him, he thinks that everyone in baseball is stupid anyway, so he probably wouldn’t want to work for them. The guy is that self-absorbed.

  41. Robert is entirely correct. Mariano is fabulous, but there’s no reason to assume that Gossage wouldn’t have been just as dominant if he were pitching one inning. It used to be that relief pitchers would come in when the starter was in trouble (hence the nickname firemen)and there were runners on base. Rivera does that at times, but mostly he comes in to start an inning. That seems much easier to me. Plus, you can turn the argument around. Rivera has essentially one pitch. If he had to face guys a second time around, he might not be as effective. (Admittedly, though, that has not been the case when he has pitched multiple innings.)


    Showing my age, I remember seeing Willie Davis make the three errors in one innning in the 1966 World Series. I remember thinking as the ball was going out, there’s no way a major leaguer drops this. You had to feel bad for the guy.

  42. 69/72 – now wait just a second here. Two things to remember – Goose played in an extremely low offense era, where it wasn’t quite as tough to handle a longer number of innings per appearance. Second, Mariano averages twenty more appearances per season than Goose did – he may not throw as many innings, but he warms up and pitches a hell of a lot more often. Put another way – Rivera has nearly as many appearances in fifteen seasons as Gossage had in twenty two.

  43. Goose vs. Mariano: If you could send only one of them to Cooperstown, who would it be?

    I think the answer is so obvious that no further discussion is needed.

  44. Goose was great and scared people into making outs, but the game is different so it is tough to say what he would do in this era.
    He was damned nasty though.

  45. I always bring it up, but the other thing about evaluating Rivera, something that cannot be ignored, is his otherworldly post-season numbers.

    Overall, they’re way better than his already insane regular-season numbers. Considering the competition & the extra rounds of playoffs, IMO, it’s one of the great pitching achievements in the history of baseball.

  46. And Peter Moylan pitched in nearly three times as many games as Tim Lincecum last season. That’s the nice thing about short outings.

  47. BTW, Jose Reyes will be out 6-8 weeks with that thyroid issue.

    Yesterday, the Mets announced that he’d start the season on the club. His agent had a different story today.

  48. BTW, Jose Reyes will be out 6-8 weeks with that thyroid issue.

    Dovetails nicely with the ‘legalize HGH’ link above.

  49. And Peter Moylan pitched in nearly three times as many games as Tim Lincecum last season. That’s the nice thing about short outings.

    When Moylan does it for 15 years, get back to me.

  50. Goose was an amazing pitcher; the short list for greatest reliever of all time is, in my opinion, him, Wilhelm, and Rivera. But since all three were used in dramatically different roles, I don’t know how to judge.

    Rivera’s had some amazing years, but check out Goose’s 1977:

    11-9, 26 Sv, 1.62 ERA, 72 G, 133 IP, 151 K, 243 ERA+

  51. 72,
    I was doing some research on reliever usage and one thing I found was that between 2 and 5 percent (depending on the era) of a reliever’s ERA can be explained by how many batters he faces per game.

    Goose faced 7502 batters in 1002 games, 7.49 per game. The league averaged 6.25 while he was active. 120 BF/G+.
    Rivera has faced 4352 batters in 917 games, 4.75 per game. The league has averaged 4.65 since 1995. 102 BF/G+.

    Adjusting their ERA+ for BF/G+ (.95*ERA+)+(.05*ERA+*BF/G+), Mariano stays right at 202 and Goose’s gets bumped up to 127.

    It’s pretty clear to me that Gossage wouldn’t have been as dominant. I mean, yeah, we obviously can’t know for sure, but no matter how we adjust the data, Rivera probably comes out on top.

    Rivera has saved 278 runs above average over his 1090 innings. Gossage saved 157.3 runs above average over his 1809 and a third. According to ERA+.

    I’m fairly comfortable saying Goose would not have been as dominant as Rivera in context.

  52. Adjusting ERA for batters faced per game above league average? Why would you think that makes sense?

  53. Fine, lets not adjust then. –

    Mariano 202 ERA+ career and active 1st, 2.25 ERA active leader, career 15th.

    Goose – 126, career 57th, 3.01, career 170th.

    You need a lotta 2 inning saves to make up that gap, boyo.

  54. #84, you keep making the same mistake (maybe not mistake, but oversimplification). Innings pitched matter. A lot. You would never say Rivera is better than Greg Maddux simply because he had a lower career ERA. Maddux had a much more difficult role, involving pitching many more innings. So you would need to adjust for that.

    The adjustment for a Gossage is less drastic than for Maddux but still very significant.

  55. We also tend to ignore wins and losses by relievers, but that’s probably not fair for relievers of Gossage’s era, who often entered into tie games or with small deficits. Gossage was 124-107. (It’s the same number of career wins as Denny Neagle.)

  56. Sure innings are important, and I made that point specifically in 68 in support of Goose’s overall value. I concur that Gossage makes up some ground here. But you are ignoring the fact that the disparity in ERA/ERA+ is an enormous chasm, not just a big lead. You are also ignoring that 220 of his 700 inning advantage came during his crappy year as a starter – so sorry if I don’t count that as value added. Third, you don’t consider that rivera will almist certainly pitch another 2 – 3 years that will barely dip into his lead in rate stats and bring in another couple hundred ip. Really, it’s not that close at all.

  57. And further, I CAN compare ERA between guys who had the same job, i.e. Rivera and Gossage, so yeah, I would say a reliever with better rate stats is worth more than another reliever. It’s an apples to apples comparison, innings (discussed above) notwithstanding.

  58. The whole point of this discussion is that Gossage and Rivera don’t really have the same job. One was an ace reliever, the other is a save collector.

  59. Oh good lord. You’re just making stuff up now, so I’ll stop.

  60. He obviously is not making it up. You can just look at the save opportunities. Gossage never had more than 39 in a season, and the majority of his career appearances were in non-save situations. Since Rivera became a closer, he’s only had two years with fewer than 40 save opportunities, and nearly 65 percent of his career appearances have been save opportunities.

  61. Who ever brought saves into the discussion? Ignore them, fine, we’re talking about career value here, and Mo has it in spades over Goose.

  62. They were just obviously used in fundamentally different situations. The manager grabbed the phone and asked for Goose because the game was on the line. More often than not the manager grabbed the phone and asked for Mo because it was the ninth inning.

    Better pitcher, I don’t know. I still have to lean Mo, but you can’t say they are apples and apples. There’s definitely room to debate.

  63. you can’t say they are apples and apples

    Sure I can. They were brought into relief situations to pitch, an Mo did a much better job at preventing runs. Goose had his share of one inning appearances. Even granting that he often went for longer, the offensive environment was far more depressed than today, making this task notably easier.

    That’s how modern closers are used — in save situations. In Gossage’s prime, that’s not how top relievers were used.

    So? I don’t care about some made up stat – this is a red herring that still doesn’t obscure the point. Mo did a much better job than Goose of preventing runs by any stat you’d care to choose. Goose pitched more innings to be sure, but not at a high enough rate to be more valuable than the totality of Mo’s. And Rivera’s career isn’t over yet, so the inning disparity will decrease, and is so far ahead in rate stats even his decline won’t bring Gossage any closer.

  64. Saves are a made-up stat, but they affect how modern relievers are used. Top relievers usually come into the game only in the ninth inning, and only with leads of one to three runs. Gossage had more long outings, and was more likely to be used in tie games or down one or two runs — which are higher-leverage situations than many saves.

  65. How is the score going to change how well or poorly Gossage pitched? Is this the Jack Morris argument part 2? (Just kidding). Seriously, The leverage notion carries some weight I suppose, but unless you can quantify this into a significant advantage (and I’d be willing to bet you can’t) it doesn’t change the central premise of who prevented runs better.

    I don’t have access to the BB-Ref database, but I’d be interested to see how many multi inning v single inning outings both men had.

    And I haven’t brought up Mo’s postseason yet, but obviously, he destroys Gossage in both quantity and quality, AND shaves your precious IP difference by another 100 innings, in the highest of leverage situations while we’re at it. I think Goose was one of the best, and a non-embarrassing HOF denizen, but really, he’s no Mo.

  66. …but can Gossage make the train whistle sound with his nose?

    Gossage and Rivera were both dominant relief pitchers. Statistics aside, they both passed the eye test as studs. However, since they played in different eras and were used in different capacities, it’s difficult to make a reasonable comparison.

  67. The leverage notion carries some weight I suppose, but unless you can quantify this into a significant advantage (and I’d be willing to bet you can’t) it doesn’t change the central premise of who prevented runs better

    It’s not just leverage we are talking about. Being a multi-inning fireman is a more difficult job run prevention wise than being a one inning specialist. The jobs they were performing were not of equal difficulty and therefore it’s not an apples to apples comparison. You need a degree of difficulty score factored in which is the adjustment we’ve been talking about and you’ve been glossing over.

  68. Also, those innings Rivera didn’t pitch and that Gossage did, they’re getting pitched by people like Kyle Farnsworth and Edwar Ramirez and Luis Vizcaino, etc. The Yankees have had eighth inning problems for years.

  69. I’m not glossing over anything than some x factor you want me to buy into without providing any evidence that it A; exists, and B; Gossage’s value is significantly higher than Mo’s – it’d have to be a lot given their ERA+ comparisons. Do you seriously think Gossage’s job was that much harder, in a lower run scoring environment, with nearly one third of his games in the NL where he gets to face a pitcher?

    Go ahead, give me your degree of difficulty you want to assign Goose, and tell me it overcomes Mo’s huge edge in performance.

  70. My Pujols comment was flip, but my point is this: it is virtually impossible to be better at your job than Mariano Rivera. Yes, relievers are used differently today than they were in Gossage’s day; yes, Gossage was a phenomenal pitcher. But Mariano has done a better job with the ball than, basically, anyone else ever. Slagging him for not being given the ball more often… kind of misses the point.

  71. Also, there’s what Ububba said.

    1977 may have been Gossage’s best year: 133 innings, 11-9 record, 26 saves, 1.62 ERA (243 ERA+), in 72 games. An amazing year, without question, and easily one of the best relief performances ever.

    As it happens, Mariano Rivera has pitched exactly 133 1/3 innings in 88 games. He is 8-1 with 39 saves… and a 0.74 ERA. Among his 88 games are the final outs in four World Series victories, 1998-2000 and 2009.

    Mariano Rivera’s playoff record is the same duration as the best season of Goose Gossage’s career, but higher leverage and far, far higher quality.

  72. To me, the big what-if isn’t how Gossage would’ve handled Rivera’s role. It’s how Rivera would’ve handled Gossage’s role over a similar length of time.

    BTW, check out Rivera’s ’96 season as Wetteland’s set-up man.

    Nonetheless, it’s a helluva fun conversation. Again, YankeeHate aside, it’s been kind of amazing to watch Rivera up close all these years.

    I always think of it like this: My maternal grandfather was a Red Sox fan from Connecticut, but I’m told he would sometimes catch the train down to The Bronx just to watch DiMaggio. He certainly never rooted for him, but he damn-sure appreciated his greatness.

  73. Great discussion on Goose vs. Rivera.

    I looked up what Roger Angell wrote about each of them, about what an opponent said. It reflects their eras perfectly.

    For Goose: Holy shit! We’re dead!

    For Mo: Game over!

  74. I agree with ububba. No doubt, adjusting for roles, Rivera has been more dominant and better than Gossage. He is the best there has ever been in his role. If I absolutely had to get three outs in the ninth to win the game, I would certainly go with Mo. But who knows how well Rivera would have pitched if he had been used like Gossage? Having a guy able to pitch 2 or 3 innings at a time is real value–today, generally, that only happens during a blowout. And it is different pitching multiple innings, especially when Gossage and others of that generation would often come in with runners on base. Rivera probably has the single best pitch-perhaps in history-but it is a fundamentally different role. And just because there is more offense today doesn’t mean Rivera’s saves were all difficult situations.

  75. Yeah, that’s actually kind of a crazy line for betting on us: 3.5:1 against. We need to win the division something like 23% of the time for that to be positive expected value, and I’m pretty sure the team is good enough for that.

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