Sutter sees stark differences in relief pitching

SUNDAY, AUG. 5, 2012

Hall of Fame relief pitcher Bruce Sutter said closers aren’t being used like they were during his playing days. (Associated Press)
Hall of Fame relief pitcher Bruce Sutter said closers aren’t being used like they were during his playing days. (Associated Press)

Managers used closers differently in the 1980s.

Thirty years. In a couple of months that will be how long it has been since relief ace Bruce Sutter threw a high fastball, not all that fast, really, past Milwaukee’s Gorman Thomas and the Cardinals had their first World Series title in 15 years.

Perhaps it doesn’t seem that long ago, but the differences in how a bullpen is perceived and utilized are light years apart from 1982.

Sutter had 36 regular-season saves and three more in the postseason that year. Of the 39 saves, 28 were achieved by Sutter pitching more than an inning, and he worked two or more frames for a save 16 times.

For the season, Sutter pitched more than one inning on 47 occasions and had a total of 114 1/3 innings.

“Wow,” Sutter said. “I didn’t know that.”

As a stark contrast, two-thirds of the way through this season, the top 10 National League closers in saves have a total of 21 appearances of more than one inning. The Cardinals’ Jason Motte with eight is way ahead of the field. The top two – Pittsburgh’s Joel Hanrahan and Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel – have no stints longer than one inning.

According to Sutter, the 1980s view of relief pitching, as held by managers, is gone forever.

“It’s that way all the way down the line,” Sutter said. “I’ve got a boy coaching college ball and another son coaching high school. All the way down to summer leagues, all the way down to kids who are 14 years old. All those teams have a closer.”

Phils All-Star catcher Ruiz placed on DL

The Philadelphia Phillies placed All-Star catcher Carlos Ruiz on the disabled list because of plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

An MRI revealed Ruiz has a partial tear. He is expected to miss four to six weeks. Infielder Hector Luna was called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley.

Ruiz was hitting .335 with 14 homers and 58 RBIs.

All were career highs for the 33-year-old veteran.

Luna batted .246 with two homers and 10 RBIs in 26 games for Philadelphia this season.

Royals shake up staff, fire Sisson

The lowly Kansas City Royals shook up their staff by firing first-base coach Doug Sisson.

The Royals have the worst record in the American League at 44-62.

Sisson joined the Royals staff on Oct. 21, 2010. He was their minor league field coordinator from 2008-10.

Tags: baseball

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