The All-Time LA Dodger Team: The Fireman (Closer, Part II)

All-Time Lineup#1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #5 | #6 | #7 | #8
All-Time Starting Pitchers#1 | #2 | #3 | #4 | #5
All-Time BullpenCloser

I thought Takashi Saito had a shot for the modern closer role, but it was "Game Over" going against Eric Gagne.

All-Time LA Dodger Bullpen

No Player Pos
38 Eric Gagne
Closer
    Fireman
    RH Setup
    LH Setup

The next spot is for the closer before closers became closers.  The Fireman.  The smoke jumper.  The guy you bring in with the game on the line, whether it's in the 4th or the 9th inning.  This ace reliever type of usage was prominent before Dennis Eckersley came along, so or this spot we will focus on the period 1958-1987.  Here are the men during that period with 75 or more games finished.

Closer Years GF IP W-L Saves ERA+ WHIP
Jim Brewer 1964-1975 302 822.1 61-51 125 126 1.128
Ron Perranoski
61-67,1972 273 766.2 54-41 101 131 1.302
Charlie Hough 1970-1980 222 799.2 47-46 60 102 1.323
Tom Niedenfuer
1981-1987 169 440.1 30-28 64 127 1.181
Mike Marshall   
1974-1976 152 380.1 28-29 42 113 1.244
Steve Howe    1980-1985 149 328.2 24-25 59 149 1.156
Larry Sherry   
1958-1963 137 505.2 34-25 39 111 1.389
Bob Miller    1964-1967 120 597.2 29-33 24 104 1.231
Ken Howell 1984-1987 103 290.0 18-28 31 91 1.355
Pete Mikkelsen  
1969-1972 93 275.0 24-17 20 104 1.189
Ed Roebuck 1958-1963 81 329.1 22-10 22 116 1.372
Phil Regan  
1966-1968 78 220.1 22-10 27 139 1.178

Eric's Pick

Do I want to add yet another Cy Young winner to our bullpen, with Mike Marshall?  It is quite tempting, given that Marshall's 1974 is just a mind-blowing season.  However, he was only a Dodger for 3 seasons.  Larry Sherry had the best World Series by a reliever in 1959 (two wins, two saves).  Or do I go with "The Vulture" Phil Regan, 14-1 for the pennant winners in 1966?  Well, he was only here for 3 seasons too.  Ron Perranoski and Jim Brewer had multiple seasons of success in LA, so they are attractive options too.

I'm picking Ron Perranoski.  Not only did he have four seasons of 20+ VORP (Brewer had two, and Marhsall & Regan each had one great year and nothing else), but he was the ace reliever on two championship teams (1963 & 1965).  Also, since money is tight for our all-time team, we will save money by having a pitching coach already on staff.

Phil's Pick

I like Eric's pick of Perry just so I can tell a quick story. Many years ago back when baseball card collecting was at it's peak I was attending a game and sat in front of some fans who talked and talked about their baseball card collection. The Dodgers then did their Dodger Trivia question back when it took a brain cell or two to answer it. Who was the Dodger pitcher who went 16-3 in 1963 was the question that night?  While everyone else was saying Koufax or Drysdale I whispered to my friends it was Perranoski. The guys behind me scoffed at my ignorance telling me that he was a reliever and could never have won 16 games. I grinned and suggested to them that they should try reading the back of the baseball cards they collected with such enthusiasm. That record had been been imbedded in my brain since the age of 8.

Just looking at the list before hitting the books I had it in order of Howe, Brewer, and Perry.  Iron Mike and Regan only had the one great year for us. Regan went 14 -1 in 66 but was gone by the middle of 68.  Regan is an interesting story all by himself with that 14 - 1 record. He was called the "Vulture" for a very good reason.   Steve Howe had sick stuff and from the time he came up until his drug addiction downfall he was the best I'd seen as a Dodger at closing out games.  Jim Brewer didn't start out like Howe and Perry as he played 2nd fiddle to Perry and Regan until by attrition he became the fireman in 1968.. During his tenure as Dodger fireman  from 1968 - 1973  Jim Brewer was the 4th best relief pitcher in baseball according to ERA+. Steve Howe during his supreme reign of 1980 - 1983 was also the 4th best relief pitcher in baseball . Perranoski from 1961 - 1967 was the 5th best relief pitcher in baseball during that reign. 

So with all that in mind I move Howe to 3rd because of his shorter reign of terror. Brewer moves to 2nd because he was the man during the teams crappy years. Perranoski  also comes out on top for me because he could match the above two in quality, beat both of them in length, and had 2 World Championships, plus 3 World Series appearances. At least that is what the numbers say but today I'm going with my instinct and that tells me  Howe is the guy I want.

But what about Larry Sherry one of the few Dodgers who I know nothing about other then having watched in awe the video of his performance in the 1959 World Series. Turns out 1959 was an outlier but what an outlier. At some point we will have a poll of greatest single season fireman seasons and his 1959 will be right up there when you add in his MVP World Series heroics.

Niedenfuer might get some votes if not for the tragic end of 1985. I always thought 1988 was payback for 1985 but I think I'd rather have seen the 85 team win because I liked so many of those players. Stupid Steve Howe and his drug addiction. What a rotation.

Charlie Hough deserves a mention. We once signed a free agent name Don Stanhouse to be our closer and his nickname was fullpack because he'd make you smoke. Stanhouse came and went but Hough pitched for a long time. He always made me nervous but unlike Stanhouse he got the job done. He was our guy in 77/78 as Reggie Jackson can attest.

Just a quick side note, Jim Brewer died very young. Or at least I like to think he died very young since he died at the age of 50. Steve Howe died recently in an automobile accident. Both Jim Brewer and Ron Perranoski were traded by the Cubs to us early in their careers. Regan was traded to the Cubs after his Dodger career.  Lots of Dodger/Cubs going on in regards to our relief pitching in the 60's.

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