Chicago Cubs: The Heroes of Wrigley Series presents Bruce Sutter

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(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Paul Nordmann/Getty Images)
(Photo by Paul Nordmann/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: Now an established late-inning threat, Bruce Sutter sets his sights on championship gold.

In the strike-shortened 1981 season, Sutter saved 25 games while pitching in 82 1/3 innings.  His 2.62 ERA helped him earn another All-Star selection, but his new club fell short of making the playoffs.

Sutter led the league with 36 saves during his sophomore season in St. Louis in 1982.  His efforts, which saw him finish 5th in the National League Most Valuable Player rankings, helped the team garner a playoff spot.

In six postseason appearances, Sutter was lights out, combining for six saves and two wins.

In the seventh and deciding game of the 1982 World Series, Sutter entered the game in the eighth inning, St. Louis clinging to a 4-3 lead against the Milwaukee Brewers.  The fiery redhead retired six consecutive Brewers to close out the decisive victory and clinching the World Championship for the Cardinals.

Legendary Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog appreciated having Sutter at the back end of his bullpen and touted his makeup to close out ball games.

"“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better relief pitcher.  And he had the best makeup of any closer I’ve ever seen.  If he didn’t get the job done, you knew he would get it done the next nine times.  It was like money in the bank.  He just cut the percentages down for me from 27 outs a game to 21.”"

The extra workload of the previous season proved to carry over into the 1983 season as Sutter suffered a World Series hangover by not performing to his usual standards.  He blew nine saves and saw his ERA balloon to 4.23.

In a move to help Sutter regain his form, the Cardinals hired Mike Roarke, a former Cubs pitching coach, and split-fingered specialist.  The move, indeed, proved beneficial as Sutter saved a career-high 45 games.  More astonishingly, he lowered his ERA to 1.54 and pitched in a total of 122 2/3 innings.  After a two-year absence, he was again selected as a National League All-Star.

A free agent after his miraculous comeback season, Sutter signed a six-year deal with the Atlanta Braves.  At the time, the contract was worth $4.8M, but Sutter eventually became much riched from the deal due to a decision that Bobby Bonilla most certainly noticed.

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