He’s not having the best season — in fact he’s having the worst season of his career — and he may be less than two weeks away from pitching his final game in the major leagues, but it’s time to give Mike Timlin his due.
Last night, he appeared in his 1,051st game, most ever by a right-handed reliever. Until this season, his worst ERA+ was a 92. He hadn’t posted an ERA below league average since 1994. He’s appeared in at least 50 games and thrown at least 55 innings every year since 1996, and though it’ll be hard to reach those marks this year, that shouldn’t detract from the accomplishments of his career.
He’s never been flashy or ultradominant. He’s not Rivera or K-Rod or Papelbon. He’s simply been the horse, posting solid seasons time and again — and winning four World Series rings along the way. If he wins a fifth this season, he’ll be just the third player ever (and the first since Stuffy McInnis retired in 1927) to win five World Series without ever playing for the Yankees.
Since arriving in the bigs 17 years ago with a 134 ERA+ and two third-place Rookie of the Year votes, Timlin has posted a 100 or better ERA+ 15 times in 18 seasons, 110 or better 12 times, 120 or better 11 times, 130 or better 10 times and 140 or better four times.
In 2003, Timlin was the middle-relief ace who should have helped lead us to the championship in 2003, but helped bring home the ring in ’04. He was dominant in 2005, and rebounded from a subpar 2006 to help us win another one last year.
This year has been different, of course. It’s sad, as it always is, when a great career ends ignominously, but that shouldn’t obscure Timlin’s accomplishments. Thanks for the good years you gave us, Mike.