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Peter Gammons
June 02, 1986
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June 02, 1986


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Dave Stieb of the Blue Jays led the American League with a 2.48 ERA last year. This year Stieb is 0-6, with an ERA of 6.83. Here are the 10 biggest jumps for ERA champions of either league (since 1900) who pitched at least 100 innings the next year:



Bill Doak




Frank Baumann




Gene Bearden




Garland Braxton




Howie Pollet




Monte Pearson




Ray Kremer




Luis Tiant




Juan Marichal




John Denny





He is, after all, only 33 years old, and with 215 saves, he has been the best relief pitcher of this decade. Because he has been there when needed every year—never fewer than 33 saves in a full season—he has been the greatest constant of the Royals. But in the '85 playoffs and World Series it was obvious that Royals manager Dick Howser had grown wary of Dan Quisenberry. Howser avoided using Quisenberry against certain lefthanded batters. Now, a quarter of the way through the 1986 season, Howser has decided that Quisenberry's days as the unquestioned ace of the bullpen are over for now.

Last week Quiz warmed up in the third inning of one game, and two days later, with two out in the ninth and a one-run lead, he found himself relieved by Bud Black with Texas first baseman Pete O'Brien, a lefthanded hitter, at the plate. Black, Steve Farr and Quisenberry are now a bullpen committee. "No longer will it automatically be Quiz coming into ball games," Howser says. "And you'll see him coming out of ball games, too. I want to say this in a nice way: He'll be versatile for us." Quisenberry was given the news in a closed-door meeting in Chicago on May 18 with both Howser and pitching coach Gary Blaylock.

In Kansas City's first 41 games, Quisenberry had only six save opportunities, coming up with three saves, a loss and two no-decisions. In his last seven outings, Quiz has given up 16 hits and seven earned runs in 8⅔ innings. He has allowed 8 of 14 first batters to reach base and 6 of 10 runners he inherited to score.

Quisenberry has made a concerted effort to pitch inside to lefthanded batters, and he feels that with work his sinker will come back. The question is whether or not Howser is making too quick a move, even if it was apparent last season that he was leaning in this direction. "With Quiz, the difference between 40 saves and batting practice pitches is a thin line," says one scout. Quisenberry has admitted that managerial lack of confidence is something he has always had to live with. "There will be some adjustments I'll have to make," says Quiz.


Rickey Henderson has become increasingly upset with umpires he claims are calling too many high strikes on him, which is, he says, part of the reason he struck out 28 times in his first 175 at bats after doing so only 65 times in 547 at bats last season. Respected crew chief Jim McKean acknowledges that umpires are finally defining the Henderson strike zone not by his crouch—which gives a pitcher only a few inches to work with—but by where he stands when he hits the ball. "A lot of people have thought we should have done that years ago," says McKean. But Henderson's problem with the limps is even larger than his new strike zone. "He ticks everyone off," says one ump. "We're all sick and tired of his showing us up and slowing down the game by stepping out on every pitch. He told us, 'We're gonna have a meeting,' and we just laughed. No matter what he thinks, the game wasn't created for him."...As if losing weren't tough enough on Minnesota manager Ray Miller, now Billy Martin has announced that he is interested in the job. Martin is still popular in Minnesota, and there were reports that owner Carl Pohlad had met with Martin's attorney, Eddie Sapir, although those talks would necessarily be prolonged because Martin wants club president Howard Fox—whom he punched in 1969 when Fox was traveling secretary—ousted. "If I see Martin come, there better be someone between us or we'll find out just how tough he really is," says Miller. "Anyway, he's screwed up enough teams already."...Dallas Green has resisted making Jim Frey the scapegoat for the Cubs' poor start, partly because Green has seen what happened across town and partly because he realizes that the Cubs are not exactly a complete team. Green told Frey last week to do what he considers necessary, so Frey moved Keith Moreland from rightfield to third base and benched Ron Cey temporarily, while Green threatened to trade heretofore untouchables. The Cubs' ballyhooed starting rotation was 7-12, 5.11 in 39 games, and that was supposed to be one of the team strengths. Green also offered a rational solution to the Wrigley Field lights controversy by suggesting that the city allow lights in return for his promise not to move the franchise and to play only 18 regular-season night games. That's better than Chicago Mayor Harold Washington's reaction to the National League's edict that the Cubs use Busch Stadium for playoff games: "We're not lump-lump here. This is a city. We are people. We have rights."...Then there was San Francisco Mayor Dianne Fein-stein's press conference to announce a new stadium site for the Giants. No Giant officials attended because the site has room for only 5,500 parking spaces and is not yet close to a public transportation outlet....

One American League scout, noting that he has clocked Phil Niekro's knuckler in the low 50s, says, "He screws up hitters' timing so badly that maybe teams should get out a gun, then get a batting-practice pitcher throwing at that speed and let them get used to it before the game."...There have been many disagreements between Tiger G.M. Bill Lajoie and manager Sparky Anderson in the past, and they went public this week when Sparky announced that he might put rookie Eric King into the rotation. "If we give up on our rotation, we're——," responded Lajoie. Pitchers are privately contending that Roger Craig's absence is now deeply felt because he could calm Anderson and keep Tiger pitchers in a positive frame of mind....

Of his relationship with manager Davey Johnson, Ron Darling says, "This could be another Weaver-Palmer. I seem to take the brunt of criticism on this staff." After Darling allowed three hits and two runs in picking up his fourth straight win, Johnson called Darling's performance "terrible," adding, "He has flashes of brilliance, but he doesn't pitch as well as his ability warrants." Oh, yes: The Mets have won all of Darling's first eight starts.


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