At a yard sale a few months back, my mother found and bought me, as a present, a copy of “1986 Mets: A Year to Remember”. Yes, the VHS cassette of the Sports Channel edited video yearbook of the Blue and Orange Brigade. I couldn’t believe how stoked I was watching this video cassette.
The worst part about unfair? The 1986 Mets don’t have as successful of a year WITHOUT Roger McDowell. Although McDowell gets credit alongside Jesse Orosco for being anchors of the bullpen, McDowell’s numbers were downright disgusting! Orosco got his props for getting the last outs in both the 1986 NLCS & World Series, but McDowell never TRULY got his props for that incredible season.
Roger went 14-9 with 22 saves and a 3.02 ERA in 128 INNINGS of work in 75 games (It actually broke the single season reliever games record set by Doug Sisk). In this day and age, you don’t see relievers log those type of stats in a season. Hell, you normally don’t see starters get 14 wins in a season. There were a few times that McDowell logged 2 + innings a game, including a game in the 1986 NLCS Game 6 where Roger pitched 5 SCORELESS innings in relief to keep the Mets alive for the ultimate win in extras! McDowell’s stellar bullpen play really set the curve for pitching strategies and watching the starters pitch counts (Granted, Davey Johnson was on the curve before anyone when it came to pitching matchups and statistical analysis, but I digress). Being 25 years old and just throwing in major situations at will led to some serious success for McDowell in 1986.
More importantly than the stats, Roger McDowell quite possibly possessed the greatest sinkerball I’ve ever seen. Watching the 1986 World Series games via YouTube, in particular Game 6, McDowell had the greatest drop on a sinker I’ve ever witnessed. Due to an arm injury he suffered in February 1984, which led to elbow surgery to remove bone chips (thanks to the New York Times for this old school tidbit: http://www.nytimes.com/1987/05/06/sports/sports-of-the-times-roger-mcdowell-looking-better.html), McDowell fully focused on his bullpen work and PERFECTED the sinker when he made it to the Major Leagues in 1985. It literally dropped before the pitch dropped into the catcher’s mitt. McDowell’s sinker was a thing of beauty.
Credit: Bleacher Report for the picture
Looking back and currently at the Mets bullpens over the years, I don’t think I’d be wrong in saying that Roger McDowell, statistically, might have had the best single season of relief work in Mets history. Even Tug McGraw’s 11-4 with a 1.70 ERA in 1971 does not compare to Mr. McDowell in my opinion. Bottom line: Roger McDowell is incredibly underrated for his tenure with the Mets, and I truly believe in 1986, he had the greatest season out of the bullpen in Mets history.
Light that on fire.