The game of baseball has revolutionized drastically in the last thirty years, to the point where there should be speculation if closers such as Dave Righetti actually threw more than the ninth inning.
Righetti was a starter in 1977. He became a major leaguer in 1979, with the Yankees. In 1981, he started to become a star.
Still rookie eligible, Righetti was masterful over his fifteen starts, pitching like a seasoned veteran instead of a twenty-two year old. He went 8-4 with a 2.05 ERA, and for those who are statheads, led the American League with a 2.12 FIP, which is basically ERA if the outfield and infield were replaced with the most average of fielders. Despite the strike-shortened season, Righetti pitched in the World Series garnered the AL Rookie of the Year award (WS foe and Cy Young winner Fernando Valenzuela earned the NL award).
After a sophomore slump season, Righetti went 14-8 with 169 strikeouts, and again led the league in FIP with 2.87. But his real highlight was on Independence Day, when he no-hit the Red Sox. He seemed destined for a solid career as a starter.
In 1984, the Yankees had an influx of starting pitchers and needed someone to fill the gaping hole former closer Goose Gossage left behind. Righetti was chosen for the late game role (closers did not usually pitch solely the ninth inning yet), and excelled in an unfamiliar role. He had 31 saves that year, and 12 wins and 29 saves in 1985.
Righetti’s best season was 1986, in which he broke and reset the single season saves record, with 46. He was also named a first time All-Star, and finished fourth in the AL Cy Young Award voting. He is one of only three pitchers to both pitch a no-hitter and lead a league in saves, with Dennis Eckersley and Derek Lowe later joining him.
1987 was another All-Star year for Righetti, and he would pitch three more years in the Big Apple before moving on to San Francisco, Oakland, Toronto, and the Chicago White Sox to finish his career. He ended his career with an 82-79 record and 252 career saves. He is now a pitching coach for San Francisco, teaching his wisdom and knowledge to closers such as Brian Wilson and Sergio Romo, and no-hit starters such as Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain.