What happens to closers when they don't know a save situation is coming?
There are two types of days in my world, both marked by how they begin. One day involves my waking up, going downstairs, having a leisurely glass of orange juice, and packing my lunch. Soon enough, my daughters will wake up, so I get breakfast ready for them and mentally prepare for the demands that come with having a three-year-old and an almost-one-year-old. That's a good day.
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Tigers left-hander Phil Coke begins his transition from reliever to starter.
DUNEDIN—The first step in Phil Coke's transition from reliever to starter could not have gone better Saturday afternoon. In fact, the Tigers left-hander spent more time engaging reporters in an interesting give-and-take following his first start of the Grapefruit League season than he did on the mound.
The Phillies closer talks about the importance of the eight warm-up pitches, how he throws his slider, and many other subjects.
Brad Lidge, as most fans know, is a power pitcher. If you sit down and talk baseball with him, you will learn that he is also a technician and a bit of philosopher. Blessed with an overpowering slider, the Phillies closer has had a spectacular, albeit somewhat tumultuous, career, having logged 200 saves and a 12.2 K/9 rate that is unsurpassed in big-league annals. Drafted by the Astros, in 1998, Lidge grew up in Englewood, Colorado and played his college ball at Notre Dame.
A conversation with the Indians closer about his career and his transition from starting to the bullpen.
In the eyes of many, Kerry Wood has never lived up to expectations. The 32-year-old right-hander doesn't agree with that assessment, but there is no denying that the sky seemed to be the limit when Wood struck out 20 Houston Astros in just his fifth big-league start on May 6, 1998. His historic performance elicited comparisons to Roger Clemens and Nolan Ryan, but despite ranking second all-time in K/9 with a mark of 10.382, Wood hasn't achieved the Hall of Fame-level brilliance that so many envisioned. Plagued far too often by injuries, the native of Irving, Texas has nonetheless had a successful career since being taken as the fourth overall pick in the 1995 draft. Now the closer in Cleveland, after 10 seasons with the Cubs, Wood has a career record of 80-64 with a 3.67 ERA, and 54 saves in 334 appearances. Wood sat down with BP when the Indians visited Fenway Park on the last weekend of the season.
Checking in from the scene of the action of the NLDS pitting the NL East against the NL Wild Card.
PHILADELPHIA—It is hard to imagine Cole Hamels being anything but cool. The Phillies left-hander with blond streaks in his black hair grew up in Rancho Bernardo, California, a suburb of San Diego, and his perfect day when he was single was to sleep until noon, go to Del Mar Beach, play volleyball, surf on a body board, and cook out. Now that's cool.
Talking to Rad about the value of situational relievers, feeding off of adrenaline on the mound, and his passion for punk rock.
Scott Radinsky knows all about rocking back and throwing. Not only did the left=hander have an 11-year big league career--mostly as a situational reliever for the White Sox and Dodgers--he is also a veteran of the punk rock scene. A native of Southern California, Radinsky has balanced baseball and music since being taken in the 1986 draft, pitching in over 500 games while fronting Scared Straight, Ten Foot Pole, and now his current band, Pulley. Radinsky also missed the 1994 season while battling Hodgkin's Disease. He joined the coaching ranks in 2005, and is currently the pitching coach for the Indians' Triple-A affiliate.
Jeff Francis sums up the improbability of Colorado's pennant, the Yankees and Angels search for new leaders, and Dusty settles into the Queen City.
Jeff Francis searched for the proper word to describe the Colorado Rockies' incredible streak that has carried them to their first-ever World Series appearance. Colorado has won 21 of its last 22 games. "Unbelievable? Unfathomable?" the Rockies left-hander asked. "Ridiculous is a word I've been throwing out there a lot lately. Yeah, ridiculous might sum it up."
The Red Sox middle reliever sits down to discuss durability, roles, and matchups.
Mike Timlin joined an exclusive club earlier this season, becoming just the 13th pitcher in big league history to appear in as many as 1,000 games. Still going strong at the age of 41, the 17-year veteran took the mound 50 times in 2007, logging a record of 2-1, 3.42 with one save in his familiar role of Red Sox set-up man. A closer during his time with Toronto and Baltimore--the right-hander has 140 career saves--Timlin earned World Series rings with the Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993, and with the Red Sox in 2004.
A conversation with the Twins prospect about pitching, command, and the penalties of making a mistake over the plate in The Show.
Although his fastball might be unexceptional, Kevin Slowey is one of the top pitching prospects in the game because of his uncanny ability to command where he puts it in the strike zone. A second-round pick in the 2005 draft, the 23-year-old Twins right-hander has allowed only 42 walks in 324 minor league innings while striking out 319. Slowey made his big league debut earlier this season, but was returned to Triple-A Rochester after seven up-and-down starts in which he went 3-0, 5.84 and gave up 53 hits in 37 innings. He currently leads the International League in ERA (1.83), WHIP (0.92), and complete games (four).