It takes a bold pitcher to step on the mound with only three outs to work with. These five New York Mets closers did it better than anyone else.
Throughout the storied pitching history of the New York Mets, it has mostly been the starting pitchers who have made headlines. From Tom Seaver to Jerry Koosman to Dwight Gooden and now to Jacob deGrom, many starters have pitched their way into legendary status.
But despite the continued strength of Mets starting rotations over the years, let’s not forget that some of the most iconic moments in Mets history have featured their closers.
Who can forget the image of Jesse Orosco gleefully throwing his glove in air after striking out Marty Barrett to end the 1986 World Series? Or when Tug McGraw single-handedly injected hope into the Mets’ 1973 season with “Ya Gotta Believe”?
It goes without saying that for the past few seasons, the Mets bullpen has been, for lack of a better word, a weakness. Today though, I’d like to focus on some of the better relievers that the Mets have had, and rank the five best closers in franchise history.
5) Roger McDowell
When Mets fans today think about Roger McDowell, they might fondly recall his appearances on Seinfeld, his rain delay antics, and his reputation as the clubhouse prankster on the mid-to-late ’80s teams.
Underneath his fun-loving exterior, McDowell was also an integral part of the Mets’ bullpen during some of the team’s best years. He made his debut in 1985 when he appeared in 62 games and notched 17 saves, pitching to a 2.83 ERA and finishing 6th in the Rookie of the Year voting.
In 1986, McDowell paired with Jesse Orosco (more on him later) to create a rock-solid back of the Mets bullpen. That year, he appeared in 75 games and locked down 22 saves, while also pitching to a 14-9 record with a 3.02 ERA. McDowell’s efforts that year were rewarded with a top-20 finish in MVP voting.
McDowell was ultimately traded, along with Lenny Dykstra, to the Phillies in 1989, but after just a few years in Queens, he left an indelible mark on Mets history. He ranks seventh on the franchise all-time saves list with 84. Several of the pitchers ahead of him are also coming up on this list, starting with number four.