Before relief pitchers had defined roles, Ron Taylor was one of the better bullpen arms for the New York Mets. He’s a player the kids should know a little more about.
Although he wasn’t the best reliever in Mets history, Taylor certainly was a good one. In the era before roles were defined in the bullpen, Taylor was one of the better arms Gil Hodges could turn to for help.
Taylor first came to Flushing in 1967 when he was purchased by the club from the Houston Astros. In the era before free agency, it wasn’t uncommon for players to be purchased from another squad. It’s also no surprise that Houston was willing to sell Taylor. Since debuting in 1962 with the Cleveland Indians, he only once had an ERA below 4.50.
Taylor’s time with Houston was even worse. His 6.03 ERA put a “for sale” tag on his cap. The Mets bought and there was no regret.
In his first year with the Mets, Taylor pitched to a 2.34 ERA. He saved 8 games and finished 31 for the club. The next year, he had a 2.70 ERA, 14 saves, and 44 games finished.
To complete the trifecta of superb seasons, Taylor gave the Mets 14 saves, 44 games finished and a 2.72 ERA in 1969. Best of all, he won 9 games out of the bullpen. He also happened to pick up a victory in one of his two appearances in the NLCS against the Atlanta Braves.
Speaking of the playoffs, Taylor didn’t give up a run in any of his 5.2 runs in the 1969 postseason.
Taylor wasn’t nearly as great in 1970 and 1971, but still had ERAs of 3.93 and 3.65. He added to his saves total, also finishing games off.
In his five years with New York, Taylor managed to go 21-21 with a 3.04 ERA. He finished 184 games for the team and picked up 50 saves.
This was a time before closers were what we know them as today. In 1969, he shared his duties with the man who we often think of as the first closer in franchise history, Tug McGraw.
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Relief pitchers from yesteryear aren’t remembered the same as other players. They weren’t in the spotlight the same way as starting pitchers. Taylor is one of those players from the past the kids should learn about.