Friday, January 07, 2005

January 7th, 1962

Jeff Montgomery Born

Jeff Montgomery was the ninth pitcher to earn three-hundred saves and the first to earn all three-hundred with one team (since joined by Mariano Rivera and Troy Percival). Montgomery was unique among his reliever brethren in that while most of them are associated with one single dominant pitch—Rivera's cutter is probably the best known but the connection can be made with most prominent closers—he had a starter's repertoire of four pitches: Fastball, slider, curve, and change-up. Common theory is that closers (and relievers in general) only have a pitch or two for two reasons: (1) If they had more than two pitches, they'd be starting and (2) If you're coming in with the game on the line, you don't want to be fiddling around trying to figure out what pitches are working that day. Montgomery succeeded in spite of these reasons (both of which have obvious flaws) in large part because he struck out a fair number of batters (7.5 per 9 innings) and walked very few (3 per 9 innings). Despite his success, Montgomery remains an anomaly as a four-pitch closer, proving as always that you can count on baseball teams to maintain convention despite contrary evidence.

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