Padres Special: Craig Kimbrel Latest in History of Great Closers for San Diego Padres

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USA Today Sports
USA Today Sports

I am not sure if any other team has a history of closers like the San Diego Padres. The Padres have two relievers in Rollie Fingers and Goose Gossage presently in the Baseball Hall-Of-Fame. Trevor Hoffman is sure to be included once eligible in 2016. The vote is this summer and hopefully Hoffman will be included with long time great Ken Griffey Jr.

With Hoffman’s induction, that would give the Padres three hall of fame relief pitchers. The Padres history at the closer position runs deep and thankfully in modern times the team hasn’t had an issue in the 9th inning. With the addition of Craig Kimbrel the Padres tradition of elite closers will once again be in effect. Kimbrel is under team control for the next four years and at the age of 25, is sure to have his best years ahead of him.

The team came into the National League in 1969 and for the next eight years a dozen different players got at least seven saves on the season. Billy McCool led the Padres in 1969 with seven saves. Frank Reberger and Tommie Sisk had six saves a piece. In 1970 T Dukes saved 10 games for the Padres and Ron Herbel had nine saves. Al Severinsen and Bob Miller led the Padres in saves in 1971. The top save earner for the Padres in 1972 was Mike Corkins with six saves. Mike Caldwell had 10 saves in 1973 and Vicente Romo had nine saves in 1974 to lead the Padres. Butch Metzger in 1976 was the first Padres player to be considered a true closer. He earned 16 saves for the Padres that season.

In the off-season in 1977 Rollie Fingers was signed away from the Oakland Athletics during his free agent season. Fingers agreed to a 6-year 1.6 million dollar deal with the Padres to help turn around the young franchise and solidify their bullpen. Fingers went on to play for the Padres for four years. He went 34-40 with a 3.12 ERA and a 1.250 WHIP. Fingers recorded 108 saves as a Padre in his four years with the team.

Rollie Fingers was dealt on December 8, 1980 with Gene Tenace and Bob Shirley to the St.Louis Cardinals for Terry Kennedy, John Littlefield, Al Olmsted, Mike Phillips, Kim Seamen, Steve Swisher and John Urrea. The Cardinals in turn moved Fingers to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for a package of prospects. Fingers players out his contract with the Brewers and retired after one last season in Milwaukee in 1985 at the age of 38.

With Fingers gone the Padres turned to Gary Lucas a 25-year-old left-handed pitcher from Riverside California. Lucas went on to record 49 saves for the Padres from 1980-1983. Lucas wasn’t dominant by any means, he relied on a curve ball and a sinker ball to get his outs. His strike out ratio was very low and eventually he was replaced in 1983 with a fireball throwing right handed pitcher from the New York Yankees.

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