Lacking the excitement surrounding his recently-demoted predecessor Ryan Franklin, new St. Louis Cardinals closer Mitchell Boggs quietly converted each of his first three save opportunities during the club’s most recent homestand.
The three saves, collected against Washington in last Wednesday’s game two and versus Cincinnati on Friday and Sunday, were the first three opportunities of Boggs’ major league career, which spans back to June 2008 and 91 previous appearances.
To help us determine how notable Boggs’ introduction to closing has been, researcher Tom Orf pulled the list of Cardinals relievers who converted their first three save chances since 1950.
Boggs became number 46 on the list but the first since Al Reyes six years ago. He has logged the ninth 3-for-3 introduction to the job over Tony La Russa’s 16 years managing the club.
Notable in their absences are Franklin and Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley. Eck blew two of his first four chances for La Russa in 1996. Franklin’s 2007 start with St. Louis was far rockier. He blew his first three save opportunities and five of six in his first season with the club.
St. Louis Cardinals with saves in all of first three-plus opportunities, 1950-present
It will take some months of flawless pitching before Boggs can threaten the best start for a new Cardinals closer in recent years. In 1995, the season prior to La Russa’s arrival, veteran Tom Henke converted his first 22 save opportunities.
Henke was in a much difference career place than Boggs, having already logged 275 saves with Texas and Toronto. It would become the final season of Henke’s 14 years in the major leagues. At age 37, he went out on top, with his 1.83 ERA the lowest of his career and his 36 saves in 38 opportunities representing his second-best season.
At this point, Boggs can only dream of such success. His initial test drive will continue on rougher roads in Houston and Atlanta this week.