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

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The 1993 season saw Greg Harris earn 23 saves as a Padre. Harris was a small right handed pitcher, with an electric curve ball. His fastball was average, so he was not an ideal closer. Harris earned the majority of the saves but a skinny right handed pitcher by the name of Trevor Hoffman caught the coaching staffs eye. Hoffman worked his tail off each and every day and being a former infielder he knew how hard he had to work to keep his job. Hoffman went on to go 2-4 with a 4.31 ERA he earned three saves but was till raw at the age of 25. Hoffman settled down and started to throw more strikes. With his devastating change-up, Hoffman was unhittable when he was ahead in the count.

Trevor Hoffman went on to record a mind-blowing 552 saves as a Padres pitcher. His 16 year Padres career was from 1993 to 2008. Hoffman. The six-time all-star was 54-64 lifetime with a 2.76 ERA and a 1.043 WHIP as a Padre. He struck out 1029 batters in 952 innings pitched. Hoffman held the all time save record until it was broken by Mariano Rivera.

Hoffman’s 1998 season where he recorded 53 saves for the National League Champion Padres, was magical. The man was lights out. When you heard ACDC’s Hells Bells, the game was over. The intimidation factor that he brought was amazing, especially when you consider his out pitch was a change-up. He made hitters look absolutely silly up there from time to time. His Bugs Bunny change up has to be one of the best change of pace pitches in the history of the game.

Hoffman was allowed to leave San Diego after the 2008 season. He was picked up by the Milwaukee Brewers and recorded 47 more saves for them in two seasons. Hoffman retired after the 2010 season at the age of 42 with 601 career saves. With Hoffman gone the Padres turned to a local right-handed pitcher. Heath Bell was acquired from the New York Mets in 2006 with Royce Ring for Jon Adkins and Ben Johnson.

Bell was used as Hoffman’s chief setup man and had improved enough to be given a shot at the closers job. Bell went on to record 42 saves in 2009 and had two more great years as the Friars closer. He recorded 134 total saves as a Padre and recently retired from baseball. Upon Bell leaving the Padres after the 2011 season via free agency the Padres traded Nick Schmidt to the Colorado Rockies for Huston Street. What a deal that turned out to be for the Padres. Street went on to record 80 saves for the club from 2012-2014. He was dealt last season with Trevor Gott to the Los Angeles Angels for R.J. Alvarez, Elliot Morris, Jose Rondon and Taylor Lindsey.

That brings us to the present and Craig Kimbrel, the Padres present closer and a man who could conceivably be a Padre for a long time. At the age of 26 Kimbrel has a solid track record thus far as a closer. Recording 46, 42, 50 and 47 saves in his first four seasons. The man is flat-out nasty and probably the best closer in the game right now. He is signed for the next four seasons and can’t be a free agent until 2019 at the earliest.

From Fingers, Gossage, Davis, Myers, Hoffman, Bell, Street and now Kimbrel the bloodline of Padres closers runs deep. It is a great thing knowing the once your team has the lead deep in the game, then the game is essentially over. A feeling Padres fans have taken pride in feeling for decades.

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