The Extreme Houdini Save

I mentioned in the post on Brian Wilson's far better performance when he had regular work that there are several different types of saves.  I listed five types, with the toughest one being when a pitcher entered the game with runners on second and third )or with the bases loaded) and no outs -- in a one-run game.

Now I see that Bill James has a name for such saves (although he limited his to bases loaded, not runners only on second and third).  He calls such saves Extreme Houdini saves.

One of the points I made in my previous post was that two- and especially three-run saves were easy saves that any decent pitcher should achieve a high percentage of the time.  But the Houdini saves are darn tough.

How tough?  So tough that there have been only eight Extreme Houdini saves since 1974 -- and none since 2000.

I think most relief pitchers in general and closers in particular would benefit from more regular work.  Wilson appears to be a prime candidate.  I think baseball is ripe for a re-examination of how closers are used.

If the Giants had used Brian Wilson on a strict schedule of no more than two days in a row and no more than two days between appearances, he would have missed out on only two of his 47 save opportunities last season.  That doesn't seem like much of a sacrifice to make, given that his ERA when used regularly was several runs lower than when he wasn't.

Let's see closers making more tough saves (and perhaps even the occasional Extreme Houdini) and fewer two- and especially three-run saves.  Sometimes the time when a true Houdini is needed is in an earlier inning -- when the bases might be loaded with no outs or one out.  Why not use the closer in such critical situations?

If the fire isn't doused in that particular situation, there most likely won't be a game for the closer to save later.  Saves are important.  Team wins are even more so.

Harry Houdini was at his best when his tricks were tough.  He proved his stuff by making escapes on one else could make -- not by making the routine ones.

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