Four Outs

He got more than four outs

Now I’m normally not one to spout on and on about players being better when I was younger. Some of them were, some of them weren’t. But last night during the Cardinals-Brewers game I had to sit there in the eighth and ninth innings and listen over and over and over and over and over and …well, you get the idea, to a color guy tell me how hard it was going to be for Jason Motte, the Cardinals closer, to get four outs to end a playoff game. I’ll acknowledge that getting any out in a playoff game is hard enough (so is doing it in a regular season game) and that getting the 27th out is especially tricky, but four outs? Let me note something here. Way back when I was younger bullpen men got four outs with regularity. Let me just use four guys, which is a small sample but will have to do.

In 1959 Larry Sherry became the first reliever to be chosen World Series MVP (they only started the award in 1955). He got two wins and two saves (all four of the Dodgers wins). In four games he pitched 12.2 inning, or a little over 3 innings a pop, or a little over nine outs. In 1960 Roy Face was in four games, pitching 10.1 innings, or almost eight outs a turn. A caveat here is that this is the only World Series appearance for either man and might not hold had there been other appearances.

That isn’t true for Rollie Fingers. He makes playoffs in 1972 through 1975 and makes the World Series in the middle three years (winning all three). So how’s he do? Glad you asked. In the ALCS he pitched in 11 total games going 19.2 inning, or about 5.3 outs a game. His number varies a lot from 12 outs a game in 1975 (he pitched in one game) to a low of just over three out a game in 1972 (2 games and 2.1 innings pitched). In the World Series he pitched in 16 total games over 33.1 innings. That means he got a little more than six out per appearance. Fingers made one other playoff appearance, in 1981 with the Brewers (they lost in the ALCS). This time he threw 4.2 innings over 3 games or about four and a half outs per game.

Gosse Gossage? Again, glad you asked. In five pre-World Series playoffs he pitched 17.2 innings over 11 games, or just under five outs a games (including one series where he pitched only a third of an inning). In three World Series’ he pitched 13.2 innings over 8 games, or just over 5 outs a game.

So, TBS announcers, it can be done. Quality relievers can get four outs a game in the playoffs. I realize that they’ve changed the way relievers work, having gone from the “fireman” to the “closer”, but that’s a change in philosophy, not in capability. If your closer is that good, he’s just got to be able to get four outs. Maybe Motte isn’t that good, but I got the impression that the announcers were saying it about “closers” in general and not being specific to Motte. If a manager is concerned his “closer” can’t get four outs, maybe he should think about going back to the “fireman.”

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3 Responses to “Four Outs”

  1. Vinnie Says:

    Lest we forget, Joe Page in his WS appearances averaged slightly more than three innings each.

  2. William Miller Says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I was thinking the same thing while watching the game last night. Ironically, LaRussa had as much with that change in philosophy as anyone else you’re talking about. The idea that a relief pitcher should only go one inning is pointless. If he’s good enough, use him in high leverage situations, like LaRussa did last night.
    Nice post, Bill

  3. keithosaunders Says:

    Was it Darling? I’ll tell you, for a supposed intellectual, he sure makes some rote, by-the-book statements.

    I was thinking about Chuck Tanner and Kent Tekulve in the ’79 Series as Leyland struggled to make it through the 9th (today) with a Phil Coke who couldn’t locate the strike zone. Leyland wasn’t going to use Valverde or Benoit since they were ‘tired.’ Give me a break.

    I think it was McCarver last night who noticed the Tigers pitching coach with a clicker, counting the pitches while Benoit was on the mound. What are they monitering pitches for in October?! So they can bring in some washed up bum like Brad Penny and blow the game? It was a rare moment where I thought McCarver had something interesting to say.

    Great post.

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