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”.

Chris Paddack loses no-hit bid in eighth inning vs. Marlins

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Update (9:16 PM ET): Aaaaaand it’s over. Just like that. Starlin Castro led off the eighth inning with a solo home run to left field. That ends the shutout bid as well, obviously.

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Padres starter Chris Paddack has kept the Marlins hitless through seven innings on Wednesday evening in Miami. The right-hander has allowed two base runners on a throwing error and a walk while striking out seven on 82 pitches.

The Padres’ offense provided Paddack with three runs of support, all coming in the fourth on Greg Garcia‘s RBI single and a two-run home run by Austin Hedges.

Paddack, 23, entered Wednesday’s start carrying a 2.84 ERA with an 87/18 K/BB ratio across 82 1/3 innings in his rookie campaign.

Among all 30 teams, the Padres are the only one without a no-hitter. They came into the league in 1969. The Marlins were last victims of a no-hitter on September 28, 2014 when Jordan Zimmermann — then with the Nationals — accomplished the feat.