In baseball, a closing pitcher, more frequently referred to as a closer (abbreviated CL), is a relief pitcher who specializes in closing out games, i.e., getting the final outs in a close game. Closers often appear when the score is close, and the role is often assigned to a team's best reliever. A small number of closers have won the Cy Young Award. Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter and Hoyt Wilhelm are closers who have been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.


File:Francisco Rodríguez on June 25, 2009.jpg

Closers are generally selected to pitch the last few outs of games, most often when their teams are leading by a narrow margin of three runs or fewer, which aligns with the requirements to get a save. Accordingly, the save has traditionally been the marquee statistic for closers. [1][2] Winning a close game in the last inning typically motivates each team to put their best forward, including situational pinch hitters. In particular, an away team that holds a tie or narrow lead in the ninth inning does not get a final opportunity on offense. This often leads to high leverage situations, which routinely demand the team's best reliever. Thus, closers are often the highest paid relief pitchers on their teams, since they are expected to be the most talented and "mentally tough".[3] However, the "mental toughness" argument has recently been disputed, as has the very notion that counting saves truly measures a pitcher's ability and worth. Nevertheless, at the start of the 2010 season, all of the ten richest contracts handed out to baseball relievers were for closers.[4]The</ref>]

</ref>The The all-time Major League Baseball saves leader is Trevor Hoffman. On September 24, 2006 he broke Lee Smith's record by notching his 479th career save, and on September 7, 2010, he reached his 600th career save. Unlike many closers who rely on powerful fastballs, Hoffman instead relied on a changeup.[5]

Francisco Rodriguez holds the single-season mark for saves, having saved 62 games for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in Template:By.

The concept of the closing pitcher, a player specifically designated to pitch no earlier than the eighth and generally not until the ninth inning, did not exist in the modern sense prior to the 1980s with the role of the closing pitcher evolving over the course of the 1980s and 1990s. Tony La Russa is frequently named as the innovator of the position, with Dennis Eckersley being the first player to be used almost exclusively in ninth inning situations.[6] Prior to this, all pitchers who appeared in games after the starting pitcher were often referred to generically as relief pitchers, with the best reliever sometimes being called a fireman. The best relievers came in when leads were in jeopardy, regardless of the inning and often pitched multiple innings.[7] An example of this is that Goose Gossage had 17 games where he recorded at least 10 outs in his first season as a closer, including three games where he went seven innings. He pitched over 130 innings as a reliever in three different seasons.

Major awards and honors won by closersEdit

Major League BaseballEdit

Award Closer Team Year
Hall of Fame Goose Gossage New York Yankees Template:By
Bruce Sutter St. Louis Cardinals Template:By
Dennis Eckersley Oakland Athletics Template:By
Rollie Fingers Oakland Athletics Template:By
Hoyt Wilhelm New York Giants Template:By
Cy Young Éric Gagné Los Angeles Dodgers Template:By (NL)
Dennis Eckersley Oakland Athletics Template:By (AL)
Mark Davis San Diego Padres Template:By (NL)
Steve Bedrosian Philadelphia Phillies Template:By (NL)
Willie Hernández Detroit Tigers Template:By (AL)
Rollie Fingers Milwaukee Brewers Template:By (AL)
Bruce Sutter Chicago Cubs Template:By (NL)
Sparky Lyle New York Yankees Template:By (AL)
Mike Marshall Los Angeles Dodgers Template:By (NL)
Award Closer Team Year
MVP Dennis Eckersley * Oakland Athletics Template:By (AL)
Willie Hernández * Detroit Tigers Template:By (AL)
Rollie Fingers * Milwaukee Brewers Template:By (AL)
Jim Konstanty Philadelphia Phillies Template:By (NL)
WS MVP Mariano Rivera New York Yankees Template:By
John Wetteland New York Yankees Template:By
Rollie Fingers Oakland Athletics Template:By
ROY Andrew Bailey Oakland Athletics Template:By (AL)
Huston Street Oakland Athletics Template:By (AL)
Kazuhiro Sasaki Seattle Mariners Template:By (AL)
Scott Williamson Cincinnati Reds Template:By (NL)
Gregg Olson Baltimore Orioles Template:By (AL)
Todd Worrell St. Louis Cardinals Template:By (NL)
Steve Howe Los Angeles Dodgers Template:By (NL)
Butch Metzger San Diego Padres Template:By (NL)
Joe Black Los Angeles Dodgers Template:By (NL)
LCS MVP Mariano Rivera New York Yankees Template:By (AL)
Rob Dibble, Randy Myers Cincinnati Reds Template:By (NL)
Dennis Eckersley Oakland Athletics Template:By (AL)

* Also won league Cy Young Award in the same year

Nippon Professional BaseballEdit

MeikyukaiKazuhiro SasakiWhales/BayStarsTemplate:By
Shingo TakatsuSwallowsTemplate:By
MVPKazuhiro SasakiBayStarsTemplate:By (Central)
Genji KakuDragonsTemplate:By (Central)
Yutaka EnatsuFightersTemplate:By (Pacific)
Yutaka EnatsuCarpTemplate:By (Central)

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