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Best Mets Of All Time: No. 47 Jesse Orosco

Imagine trading a pitcher like Jerry Koosman, a man who was so important to your franchise winning its first ever World Series, and in return, you get Jesse Orosco, a man who would similarly be of vital importance to your team winning its second ever World Series. Somehow, the Mets accomplished this feat.

From 1979 – 1982, Orosco was figuring out his role and then establishing himself as a reliever. In 1983, he would really burst onto the scene with one of the truly great seasons a reliever has ever had. Arguably, it is the greatest season a Mets reliever has ever had.

In a feat relievers do not regularly achieve now, Orosco threw 110.0 innings. In Mets history, among pitchers who have thrown 100 innings in a season, Orosco’s 1.47 ERA is the best ever. He was so good that season, he was an All-Star, and he would finish third in the Cy Young voting. That’s the highest in Cy Young voting any Mets reliever has ever finished.

He’d also set team reliever records with 13 wins. Overall, he was 13-7 with 17 saves, a 1.47 ERA, and a 1.036 WHIP. With that, a Mets team who was about to turn the corner knew they had a terrific closer who could pitch at any point in the game.

For 1984, he would be that for a Mets team who went from under .500 to 90 wins and in contention. It would mark the second straight time Orosco would be named an All-Star. In 1985, he would be joined by Roger McDowell in the bullpen, and they would share closing duties. As it turns out, they could do more than that.

There were many great stories from that 1986 season. One of the craziest came on July 22, 1986. In the 10th inning of an extra inning game, catcher Ed Hearns was the last player on the bench. That became an issue when Eric Davis slid hard into third leading to Ray Knight coming up punching. The benches cleared leading to the ejection of Knight and Kevin Mitchell. This meant a pitcher was going to have to play the field.

Through the ingenuity of Davey Johnson, Orosco and McDowell split pitching duties. McDowell pitched to right-handed batters with Orosco in right field, and Orosco pitched to left-handed batters with McDowell in left field. In the 13th, Tony Perez would lined one the other way with Orosco fielding it cleanly.

In the 14th, Orosco reached via walk, and he would be one of the three runs which scored on Howard Johnson‘s go-ahead three run homer in an epic Mets victory. The length and drama of that game would be nothing compared to the postseason.

In the NLCS, Orosco would set Major League history. In that tight, epic series, Bob Ojeda was the only Mets starter to earn a victory. The other three wins were by Orosco. With that, Orosco would be the first and to date only reliever to ever earn three wins in a postseason series.

The biggest and most well known win was his last one. Initially, Orosco had blown the save in that game after allowing a homer to Billy Hatcher in the 14th. Orosco shook that off to pitch a scoreless 15th. When the Mets took the lead in the 16th on a three run rally which included an Orosco sacrifice bunt, it was on Orosco to send the Mets to the World Series.

The Astros would not go quietly scoring two runs. They had runners on first and second with two outs. As the story goes, Keith Hernandez came to the mound to threaten Orosco and Gary Carter if there was a fastball thrown to Kevin Bass. Carter always said he wanted Orosco to shake him off and only throw his slider. There wasn’t as Bass struck out to end the series.

The NLCS that seemingly no one could forget would become an afterthought after what was a storied World Series. The tired Orosco who was pushed to the limits in the NLCS would pitch four times in the World Series where he would again take part in crazy games.

In Game 6, he entered the eighth inning to bail McDowell out of a bases loaded two out jam. He’d be lifted for Lee Mazzilli in a rally where the Mets tied the game to set the stage for the two out heroics in the 10th. Orosco would play a much larger role in Game 7.

After the Red Sox pulled within 6-5 in the eighth, Orosco relieved McDowell. With his best reliever on the mound, and the Mets having a lead, there was no way Johnson was going to lift Orosco if his turn to bat came. As luck would have it, the Mets rallied in that eighth to add insurance runs, and Orosco came to the plate in a sacrifice situation.

That’s when Orosco pulled the old butcher boy and hit an RBI single up the middle to extend the Mets lead to 8-5. Believe it or not, that was the last hit and the last RBI of that series. Orosco made sure of that as he struck out Marty Barrett to end the series throwing his glove up into the heavens:

We are all still waiting for that glove to land. According to legend, it may land when Darryl Strawberry finally rounds the bases after that long home run.

In that postseason, Orosco was 3-0 with two saves, and a 1.98 ERA. He was the man on the mound when the Mets won the pennant, and he was the man on the mound when the Mets won the World Series. It is somewhat fitting as he was the man who was obtained for Koosman.

Orosco’s Mets career would end after the 1987 season as he was sent to the Dodgers in a three team trade which netted the Mets Kevin Tapani and Wally Whitehurst. For a brief moment, he was with the Mets again after the end of the 1999 season, but he was traded for Joe McEwing (who also wore 47) before the 2000 season began.

That gives an indication how long Orosco pitched. As it stood, he made more appearances than any other pitcher in Major League history. In terms of Mets history, he ranks sixth, one behind the man who was sent to Minnesota to obtain him. Orosco is also fourth in saves being the first Mets pitcher to ever eclipse 100 saves. He also has the third best ERA+ and ERA in team history. Overall, he is the best Mets pitcher to ever wear the number 47.

Previous

1.Mookie Wilson
2.Mackey Sasser
3. Curtis Granderson
4. Lenny Dykstra
5. David Wright
6. Wally Backman
7. Jose Reyes
8. Gary Carter

9. Todd Hundley
10. Rey Ordonez
11. Wayne Garrett
12. John Stearns

13. Edgardo Alfonzo
14. Gil Hodges
15. Carlos Beltran

16. Dwight Gooden
17. Keith Hernandez
18. Darryl Strawberry

19. Bob Ojeda
20. Howard Johnson
21. Cleon Jones
22. Al Leiter
23. Bernard Gilkey
24. Art Shamsky

25. Pedro Feliciano
26. Terry Leach
27. Jeurys Familia
28. Daniel Murphy

29. Frank Viola
30. Michael Conforto
31. Mike Piazza

32. Jon Matlack
33. Matt Harvey

34. Noah Syndergaard
35. Rick Reed
36. Jerry Koosman
37. Casey Stengel
38. Skip Lockwood
39. Gary Gentry
40. Bartolo Colon
41. Tom Seaver

42. Ron Taylor
43. R.A. Dickey
44. David Cone
45. Tug McGraw

46. Oliver Perez

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