RIP Jeff Innis
If you were not around to watch New York Mets baseball in the early 1990s, you missed out on Jeff Innis. You missed out on the career of one of the best middle relievers in Mets history.
Really, the side-winding submariner Innis was the epitome of a middle reliever. He was so much so, he set records of which many are unaware.
In 1992, he was the Mets rankings for most relief appearances in a season. His mark of 76 appearances would set the Mets record for appearances in a season. The previous mark was when Innis made 69 appearances in 1991.
Keep in mind, many of Innis appearances lasted more than an inning. For example, 31 of his 76 appearances in 1992 were over an inning. That’s just the type of reliever he was. He took the ball as often as needed and gave the team all he could give and likely much more.
During that time, Innis set the Major League record for appearances with recording a win or save. That streak of 60 appearances ended when he got the Opening Day win in 1992.
He wouldn’t set another record for appearances in 1993. Instead, he’d settle for what was then third all-time with 67. After that 1993 season, Innis’ Major League career was over.
Innis walked off the field a winner. He pitched the final two innings of the last game of the season to wrap up the Mets 7-1 win over the expansion Florida Marlins.
He would spend his entire seven year career with the Mets. In his career, he was 10-20 with a 3.05 ERA, five saves, and a 1.272 WHIP. Impressively, he had a 120 ERA+.
After Innis left the Mets, everything changed.
We’d see a World Series be canceled due to a strike. There was the ensuing steroid era and all the other little and big scandals along the way.
Mostly, relievers were used differently and much more frequently. Now, we even see relievers starting games. From there, Innis began to fade from memory.
In 1999, Turk Wendell and Armando Benitez topped his appearances record. Benitez would tie his mark in 2000 with Wendell surpassing him again. We’d eventually see other Mets surpass Innis with the late Pedro Feliciano now being the Mets reliever with the top three single season appearance records.
Sadly, like Feliciano, Innis has passed away young. The Mets have lost two sidewinding and durable relievers who had made an indelible mark on Mets history.
Indeed, Innis is still in the Mets record books. He’s ninth all-time for relief appearances and 13th all-time for games finished.
More than that, there’s the memories from the fans. For me, in addition to seeing him nearly everyday for that three year stretch, my dad taught me to keep score at Shea Stadium in Mets Magazine with Innis on the cover.
Innis made an indelible mark on Mets history. More importantly, he resonated with Mets fans. While he’s gone, he will never be forgotten.