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Bob Wickman: An Appreciation

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Last night, Bob Wickman tied changeup master Doug Jones for the franchise lead in saves. Wickman himself has never been the prototypical closer, but his success illustrates what's so interesting about baseball.

Here's a guy who belongs more in the stands at Lambeau Field with a beer in his hand than on a pitcher's mound, who's had Tommy John surgery, who's 36 years old. And he's one of the most consistent closers in baseball. His fastball tops out in the low 90s, he's never had pretty peripherals, yet somehow he gets it done.

I'm certainly not glossing over the fact that Wickman turned a two-run lead into a 7-6 game with no outs and a runner on second. But that seems to be when Wicky thrives, with no margin for error. He faced Hank Blalock and Kevin Mench, and got both of them to pop up. Mench was probably the hottest hitter in baseball, and had homered in his last at-bat.

Yet Wickman picked Mench apart with his mediocre stuff, eventually getting him to pop weakly to second base to end the game. I don't know how he does it, but in baseball it's not how you do it, but if you do it. And a 36-year-old with past elbow surgery and beer gut can be an effective closer.