A relief pitcher in Baseball has to know when to go for broke, when to hold it in, and how to calm a lot of nerves. From a key play to a few innings, a relievers job is to put out a fire or close the show.
Below are the 25 masters of relief pitching in the MLB, here are the top 25 closers in the history of Major League Baseball.
With 314 saves in his career, Robb Nen was a standout reliever for the Rangers, Marlins, and Giants. A 3-time All-Star and 1997 World Series winner.
Gene Garber recorded 218 saves in his career and played for four major league teams recording 940 strikeouts. Known for his changeup, Garber would be called upon to put out a lot of fires in his career.
Journeyman Todd Jones played for 8 teams and recorded 319 saves and was an AL league All-Star and saves leader in 2000. Jones was a finesse pitcher and showed good durability, with an impressive curve ball.
Five time MLB All-Star, Doug Jones had an impressive 303 saves in his MLB career, Jones was a changeup specialist, known for keeping hitters off track by throwing extremely slow pitches. Jones died of COVID-19 complications in 2021, he was 64.
Tom Henke won the 1992 World Series as well as being a two-time MLB All-Star, saving 311 games and recording an impressive ERA of 2.67. Tom Henke was the AL Saves leader in 1987.
In an era where the game was changing Jonathan Papelbon was a constant, saving 368 games and being a World Series winner in 2007. A six time All-Star and pitching a combined no-hitter on September 1, 2014.
Recording well over 1,000 strikeouts and playing for notable teams like the Yankees, Cubs, and Giants among others, McDaniel managed 174 games saved, and an impressive 141-119 record.
Sparky Lyle was an amazing relief pitcher winning two World Series, being a three time All-Star, and two-time AL Saves Leader. Lyle recorded 238 saves and an ERA of 2.88.
The 1979 World Series winner and 184 saves in his career, Kent Tekulve had an ERA of 2.85 and played for three teams during his MLB career. Kent Tekulve made it to the Pirates Hall of Fame.
Best known for his time with the Mets and the Reds, Randy Myers was a strong relief pitcher often in the shadow of Jesse Orosco, Myers saved 347 games and was the saves leader of the MLB on three occasions.
Journeyman reliever Roberto Hernandez, won 67 games and had an ERA of 3.45. The Puerto Rican recorded 326 saves and was a two time All-Star.
The Venezuelan was all heat, winner of the 2002 World Series and a 6-time All-Star as well as 3-time AL saves leader. Francisco Rodriguez also recorded 437 saves, and a respectable 52-53. Rodriguez set an MLB single season saves record of 62 during his career.
Jeff Reardon won 1 World Series and was a four time All-Star, with an ERA 3.16 with 367 saves. In 1985 he was the NL saves leader, Reardon can claim to have played for both the Mets and the Yankees.
Six time all-star and 377 saves to his credit Joe Nathan was a major contributor to many of the teams he played for, including having an excellent win loss record of 64-34. Nathan was difficult to hit with an ERA of 2. 87.
With 358 games saved and a World Series ring, Troy Percival earned a respectable 3.17 ERA and 35-43 record, with four All-Star game appearances.
Hall of famer John Franco is beloved by the New York Mets, and earned 424 saves in his career, winning 2 NL relief pitcher awards, and being a 4-time All-Star. Franco also had a 2.89 ERA for the three clubs he played for.
7-time All Star Billy Wagner, saved 422 games and struck out over 1,000 batters. Wagner pitched a combined no-hitter on June 11, 2003, and is on the Houston Astros Hall of Fame.
Hoyt Wilhelm was a journeyman who played in 8 All Star games and struck out 1,610 batters in his career earning 228 saves. Wilhelm was also a 2-time ERA leader and pitched a no hitter in 1958.
Bruce Sutter is known for his time with the St. Louis Cardinals and all his accolades in his career, 300 games saved, 2.83 ERA, World Series champion (1982), NL Cy Young Award (1979), 4× NL Rolaids Relief Man Award (1979, 1981, 1982, 1984), 5× NL saves leader (1979–1982, 1984), St. Louis Cardinals No. 42 retired, and St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame.
Lee Smith was a four-time MLB saves leader and earned 478 saves in his career, Smith was a seven time All-Star and entered the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2019.
World Series champion, six time All-Star, 390 saves, and a 3.50 ERA. Dennis Eckersley was one of the top relief pitchers in the 80’s and 90’s. Dennis Eckersley was placed on the MLB’s All- Time team.
Goose Gossage’s numbers may not add up, but he was the original big league closer, coming in and putting out a lot of fires. He played for nine different teams, spending his best years with the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres.
Known for one of the best mustaches in all of sports, Rollie Fingers had 341 saves, played for three clubs and won three World Series, was a AL MVP, and seven time all-star.
With a massive 601 saves in his career Trevor Hoffman, was a two-time NL saves leader, a seven-time all-star, and is a part of the MLB Hall of Fame, one of the best closers ever.
The greatest closer in MLB history, the Sandman, Mariano Rivera was electric for the New York Yankees in their late 90’s heyday. Winner of 5 World Series and 15 All-Star games, Rivera earned 652 saves in his career and held an 82-60 record.