The 1954 Cleveland Indians bullpen, an unheralded bunch

Narleski (top right), Mossi (second from bottom right) - autographaddict.com

Earlier this week we looked at how the starting pitching from 1954 was one of the most dominant ever. But on occasion (very few of them in fact) a reliever was needed. This is a look at the how the relievers performed that season.

Often overlooked but just as good as the Starters

In 1954, a total of twelve pitchers made relief appearances for that dominating squad, however three of those twelve appeared in April/May and were just five total appearances. That means the bulk of the relief duties fell to just nine players for the entire season.

Each member of the regular rotation of Early Wynn, Mike Garcia, Bob Lemon and Art Houtteman made spot appearances (totaling 25 outings), with only Bob Feller not trekking in from the pen. That means the majority of the relief appearances fell to just five pitchers, Ray Narleski, Don Mossi, Hal Newhouser, Bob Hooper and Dave Hoskins.

Narleski and Mossi were both 25 year old rookies that year who had yet to even have a cup of coffee. Newhouser was a future Hall of Famer who had spent 15 years with the Tigers prior to 1954. He was 35 and signed just prior to the season starting as a free agent. Hooper was 31 and had spent all of 1953 in the Tribe bullpen, putting up a 93 ERA+. Hoskins was 28, a former Negro Leaguer, and had appeared in the 1953 pen and also had a 93 ERA+ in limited action.

So that means Manager Al Lopez had opened the 1954 season with three new faces and a few holdovers in the pen. It should be noted that Bob Chakales also opened in the pen and made three appearances in April/May, but was dealt at the June 1 deadline to the Orioles in one of the hugest steals ever, Vic Wertz. Both Dick Tomanek and Jose Santiago made one appearance, in the same April 17 game before heading back to Indianapolis for the duration of the season.

In an act of symmetry, there were a grand total of 160 relief appearances in 1954 (seems crazy to think about nowadays as we would likely pass that in late May/June in 2014):

G

W-L

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

BB/9

K/9

All Relief Appearances

160

18-7

296.0

2.52

1.169

6.45

4.07

4.34

Saves

BS/HD

3+

5+

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

All Relief Appearances

38

5/9

31

10

202

293

351

644

[3+ = 3 innings or more thrown; 5+ = 5 innings or more thrown]

In those days, starting pitching was the core and the relief pitching was more of mop-up duty. But looking at those numbers and comparing them to the starters, they in fact outpitched the starters. The ERA was down by 0.32, the WHIP was down by 0.042 and the OPS was down by 049.

As with the starting rotation, the bullpen essentially was a Big Three of Narleski, Mossi and Newhouser:

G

W-L

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

BB/9

K/9

Narleski, Mossi, Newhouser

100

14-3

179.0

2.11

1.034

5.43

3.87

5.08

Saves

BS/HD

3+

5+

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

Narleski, Mossi, Newhouser

27

3/5

20

5

175

268

321

589

That to me looks like sheer dominance. The WHIP was just over 1.0 but the H/9 of 5.43 and AVG against of 175 are spectacular. The K/9 of 5.08 was also way above MLB average. And between the three of them they only blew three leads and took just three losses in 100 appearances.

Here is how the other core two relievers fared:

G

W-L

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

BB/9

K/9

Hopper, Hoskins

30

0-1

57.0

4.11

1.509

9.79

3.79

3.32

Saves

BS/HD

3+

5+

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

Hopper, Hoskins

2

1/1

7

1

281

348

489

837

Not as pretty as the Big Three, but not god-awful either.

But Lopez also liked to use some of the starters in key spots. Here is how they fared in those situations:

G

W-L

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

BB/9

K/9

Garcia, Hotteman, Wynn, Lemon

25

2-3

46.1

2.53

1.187

7.19

3.50

3.30

Saves

BS/HD

3+

5+

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

Garcia, Hotteman, Wynn, Lemon

9

1/3

3

3

223

306

319

626

They even outperformed their starting numbers, and by a good margin. The number that jumps out to me is the 319 slugging against. They allowed no homers, no triples and just eight doubles.

And here are the individual stats for the top six guys (Garcia made 11 appearances in relief):

G

W-L

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

BB/9

K/9

Narleski

40

3-2

78.0

1.96

1.090

5.31

4.50

5.65

Saves

BS/HD

3+

5+

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

Narleski

13

3/1

8

1

171

278

342

620

Narleski was a bit wild as the 4.5 BB/9 ratio shows, but he just didn't give up many hits. And that 5.65 K/9 was very good in those days. He was very good from 1955 through 1957 as well.

G

W-L

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

BB/9

K/9

Mossi

35

4-0

59.0

2.14

0.966

5.49

3.20

4.88

Saves

BS/HD

3+

5+

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

Mossi

7

0/0

6

2

176

254

314

568

Mossi was probably even more effective as Narleski. That 568 OPS is something to behold. He pitched well in 1955 and 1956 before slumping in 1957.

G

W-L

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

BB/9

K/9

Newhouser

25

7-1

42.0

2.36

1.024

5.57

3.64

4.29

Saves

BS/HD

3+

5+

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

Newhouser

7

0/4

6

2

182

267

294

561

The veteran of the pen was not over the hill in this season. He matched what both Narleski and Mossi were able to do. He would only get into 2 more games for the Tribe in 1955 when his career ended.

G

W-L

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

BB/9

K/9

Hooper

17

0-0

34.2

4.93

1.586

10.12

4.15

3.12

Saves

BS/HD

3+

5+

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

Hooper

2

1/1

4

0

287

361

515

876

Hooper was really the only pitcher who had bad numbers in 1954. He was sold to the Redlegs in the offseason.

G

W-L

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

BB/9

K/9

Hoskins

13

0-1

22.1

2.82

1.388

9.27

3.22

3.63

Saves

BS/HD

3+

5+

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

Hoskins

0

0/0

3

1

271

326

447

773

Hoskins pitched pretty well in his limited innings. He would only get into 14 more games in 1955 before his career ended.

G

W-L

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

BB/9

K/9

Garcia

11

0-0

18.0

1.50

0.788

5.00

2.00

4.00

Saves

BS/HD

3+

5+

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

Garcia

6

1/0

0

0

159

221

286

506

This small sample size leads me to believe that Garcia might have been a very effective closer had that role been around in those days.

And to be complete, here are the Chakales, Tomanek and Santiago totals:

G

W-L

IP

ERA

WHIP

H/9

BB/9

K/9

Chakales, Tomanek, Santiago

5

2-0

13.2

1.32

1.463

3.29

9.88

2.63

Saves

BS/HD

3+

5+

AVG

OBP

SLG

OPS

Chakales, Tomanek, Santiago

0

0/0

1

1

109

323

196

518

Excellent numbers for an extremely small sample size.

As good as the rotation was, the bullpen actually outperformed them, albeit in many fewer innings. They went unheralded for the squad that put up the best winning percentage in history.

X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Let's Go Tribe

You must be a member of Let's Go Tribe to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Let's Go Tribe. You should read them.

Join Let's Go Tribe

You must be a member of Let's Go Tribe to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Let's Go Tribe. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker