Old Time Mets: Remembering Ray Sadecki

Ray_SadeckiAnyone out there remember Ray Sadecki? He was a starter/reliever for the Mets from 1970-1974 and was the kind of pitcher the Mets could actually use right now because of his effectiveness in that role.

They could have also used Sadecki in 2007 or 2008, which is when I chose his name on the LoHud blog when John Delcos was running the site before Howard Megdal. Those two seasons will always be remembered for how we collapsed and needed to rely upon the likes of Brian Lawrence getting starts and Aaron Heilman and his cohorts blowing game after game in the bullpen.

Tonight Jeremy Hefner delivered a brilliant performance and needed the bullpen to preserve his shutout heading into the ninth. Unfortunately, things unravelled and his solid start went into the loss column.

This wasn’t the first time that Hefner was let down by his bullpen. Usually, the kid is done after five or six innings and he’s had to get 3-4 innings out of his pen. It was the perfect assignment for a true longman, but alas the Mets don’t have a true longman. In fact the Mets have not had one since Darren Oliver in 2006.

Now back to Ray. He was signed as a 19 year old bonus baby by the Cardinals in 1959 and won 20 games for them during their 1964 championship season.

In 1965, Sadecki’s record plummeted to 6–15 and his earned run average skyrocketed to 5.21. On May 8, 1966 he was traded to the San Francisco Giants for Orlando Cepeda. In 1967 he went 12–6 with a career-best 2.78 ERA and he followed that up with another solid campaign 1968 when he posted a 2.91 ERA but with a 12–18 record, the 18 losses tying him with Claude Osteen for the the most losses in the majors.

After a 5–8 record as a spot starter in 1969, Ray Sadecki was again traded, this time to the New York Mets.

ray sadecki (11)In 1973 Sadecki pitched for the Mets’ National League champions who, like the 1964 Cardinals before them, unexpectedly won the pennant, trailing by as many as nine games behind the Chicago Cubs and winning the National League East title on the final weekend. (Coincidentally, four years earlier the Mets, prior to unexpectedly winning the World Series, had also won the division title by jumping past the Cubs.)

Sadecki pitched as a “swingman” for the Amazins’, appearing both as a relief pitcher and spot starter in a rotation that boasted Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman and Jon Matlack and was instrumental in helping the Mets win the division.

He pitched four of the seven games of the World Series, which the Mets ultimately lost to the Oakland Athletics, and earned the save in Game Four.

In his 18-year career, Sadecki won 135 games against 131 losses, with a 3.78 ERA and 1,614 strikeouts in 2,500 innings pitched.

I always appreciated Sadecki’s dual role with the Mets and realized the value of having someone like that in the bullpen. It’s not a sexy or glamorous role, but in today’s game the best teams all have a solid longman.

All the good Mets teams of the past have all had had a guy Sadecki in the bullpen. Remember Pat Mahomes in 1999-2000? And let’s not forget Roger McDowell In the mid-eighties who seemingly did it all as long man, set up man and even closer.

The versatility of a reliever like Oliver, Mahomes, McDowell and Sadecki may seem unimportant to some in the grand scheme of things. But in this age of relief specialists and one at-bat relievers, a workhorse reliever who can do whatever the team needs, is an integral part of any good bullpen.