• Gossage & Rivera II

    Posted by on January 11th, 2006 · Comments (7)

    Goose Gossage, as a Yankee, finished 85.3% of the games that he appeared in – meaning that when he came into the game, he was there for the final out 85.3% of the time.

    Mariano Rivera, as a Yankees closer – meaning from 1997 through 2005 – finished his games 91% of the time.

    I find it interesting that the the “closer” from 1978 to 1983 was not always the guy to finish the game. Clearly, back in that day, once the game was one-way or the other, the rule was to pull your “closer” and save him for another day – instead of always letting him go to the last out (like Mo does now).

    Comments on Gossage & Rivera II

    1. jonm
      January 11th, 2006 | 8:57 pm

      You’re right, Steve. And I think that the way that managers used to use relievers was more effective. I think that the first manager who breaks out of the LaRussa-Eckersley model will have a significant advantage.

    2. January 11th, 2006 | 10:44 pm

      And he’ll have the pitcher’s agent on the phone bitching every night too! {wink}

    3. jonm
      January 11th, 2006 | 11:04 pm

      Tjat’s why you should try to build a bullpen that is not based on a “proven closer.”

    4. DFLNJ
      January 12th, 2006 | 8:19 am

      I don’t know, didn’t Boston make a lot of noise about not needing a closer when Theo first took the job, only to reverse course and acquire Foulke the very next season?

      There are definitely times when Mo doesn’t need to be in there, or you could pull him when a game gets broken open after he enters, but the strategic advantage of being able to take away an inning from the other team is I think a dangerous weapon.

      Aside from that, when the playoffs/ important late season games roll around, it seems that all those “closers from nowhere” get exposed.

    5. jonm
      January 12th, 2006 | 10:43 am


      You make some good points. I think that Boston made a mistake in not having enough good arms in their bullpen that season. The strategy has to be implemented very carefully.

      I think that Guillen did a very good job last year without a “proven closer.” In fact, I think that the Yankees bullpen is built now in such a way that an injury to Rivera would not be as devastating as it would have been the last few seasons.

      What bothers me about the LaRussa-Eck model is that it refuses to acknowledge that sometimes the key moments in a game come in the seventh inning. In those situations, I would want my best arm (Gossage, for example) in there. I think that there’s just too much focus on saves.

    6. January 12th, 2006 | 1:46 pm

      I agree with jonm. It’s not that you don’t need a closer-type pitcher – what team wouldn’t be better with Mariano than without? The problem is that to use that pitcher only in “save situations” is frequently a waste of that pitcher. If the game is on the line in the seventh inning, the best pitcher you have should be on the mound. Saving your Mariano so that he can “protect” a three-run lead in the ninth inning is sometimes foolish.

    7. DFLNJ
      January 12th, 2006 | 2:19 pm

      The problem is that to use that pitcher only in “save situations” is frequently a waste of that pitcher. If the game is on the line in the seventh inning, the best pitcher you have should be on the mound.


      I must respectfully disagree. I think managers save the closer for the 9th because of how foolish they would look if they brought a closer in to stop a 7-th inning rally, only to watch their opponent win it with another rally in the 9th. The temptation to call down to the pen and get Mo on the phone at the first sign of trouble in the middle innings would be tremendous. The closer lets you say, ok I’ve got the ninth taken care of, what do I do to get the game to him? After all, if you bring the closer in during the 7th, you’re going to have to use an inferior pitcher later anyway.

      It’s possible as you say that the one rally the closer squashes will be the one to decide the game, but then again maybe not. And if you’re going to use inferior pitchers when the game is on the line, I think it’s better to use them earlier in the game when your offense has a chance to come back when they blow it.

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