Hall of Famer Bruce Sutter – Credit: Gregory J. Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Closer: Bruce Sutter (1976)
Bruce Sutter was signed by the Chicago Cubs as an undrafted free-agent in 1971. He did not have the success at first that he’d had hoped for early on, and was almost released by the Cubs.
He had nerve problems in his arm that would cut down the effectiveness of most of his pitches. If not for then pitching coach Fred Martin – the Cubs and Sutter may not have had the success they did together.
Martin would teach the young pitcher a modified split-fingered fastball which would turn to the infamous fork ball. With the fork ball – Sutter would find his pitch that would lead to his start of his successful career.
He would find a good deal of success in the Minors, but it wouldn’t show in the win and loss record.
In 1976 he would get his chance to show the Cubs what he had to give them. While he wasn’t the only reliever getting chances to close games – he made the most of his opportunities.
Finishing the season 6-3 with a 2.70 ERA – Sutter would record 10 of his 12 save opportunities – while striking out 73 batters.
Sutter would have a Hall of Fame career with the Cubs, Cardinals, and Braves. While his rookie season save total wasn’t anything that would catch the attention of people today – in his time it was a different game.
The Cubs would go from Sutter to Lee Smith – not a bad turn-around.