Dennis Eckersley: Closing “not as tough as you think”

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For years, we have been inundated with the sentiment that there is nothing tougher, nothing that requires more focus and mental fortitude than being a Major League closer. Former Athletics closer Dennis Eckersley, who authored two of the best relief seasons of all time in 1990 (0.61 ERA. 48 saves) and ’92 (won the AL Cy Young and MVP awards), says that closing is “not as tough as you think”.

Via Tyler Kepner of the New York Times:

“I don’t want to take away anything from what I did,” Dennis Eckersley, a Hall of Fame closer, said Thursday before the game. “But it’s not as tough as you think.”

[…]

“You can find somebody to do it,” Eckersley said. “You could groom somebody to do it who’s on the staff, if you manage it the right way. I mean, think about it: the tougher job is to come in with guys on base, because he’s got to be quicker to the plate and he has to hold runners on.”

The motivation behind the article was Mariano Rivera’s sixth blown save of the year, which came last night against the Red Sox. The 43-year-old Rivera is set to retire after the season as the greatest closer of all-time with 649 saves to his name and a career 2.21 ERA. While Rivera is by no means having a terrible season, many are having better seasons, as Kepner points out. Craig Kimbrel, Koji Uehara, Mark Melancon, Greg Holland, Kenley Jansen, and Edward Mujica are just a handful of players doing a better job for a much cheaper price and a fraction of the praise, seemingly putting to bed the notion that one must have an inborn “closer’s mentality”.

Julio Teheran throws six no-hit innings in return from disabled list

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Braves starter Julio Teheran dazzled in his return from the 10-day disabled list on Sunday, tossing six no-hit inning against the Padres. He walked three and struck out 11 batters on 95 pitches. Unfortunately for Teheran and for the Braves, the no-hit bid ended quickly as reliever Shane Carle surrendered a one-out single to Cory Spangenberg in the seventh inning. Nevertheless, the Braves went on to win 4-1 over the Padres.

Teheran, 27, went on the disabled list on June 5 with a right thumb contusion. He apparently suffered the injury while batting during his June 4 start against the Padres. Following Sunday’s effort, Teheran now carries a 3.97 ERA with a 67/36 K/BB ratio in 77 innings this season.

Coincidentally, Teheran has a spotless ERA on Father’s Day across four starts. Here were the results from his previous three starts:

  • June 16, 2013 vs. Giants: 6 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K
  • June 21, 2015 vs. Mets: 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K
  • June 19, 2016 at Mets: 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K