Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Best Pitching Duos in History (Part VII--1960-1969)

Whitey Ford and Ralph Terry/ New York Yankees (1961-1963)

The right-handed Terry enjoyed his best seasons with the Yanks from '61-'63, winning no fewer than 16 games per year. He is best remembered for one of the most painful moments of his career--the Series-clinching homer he surrendered to Bill Mazeroski in 1960. In '62, Terry led the AL with 23 wins. He partially redeemed himself in the World Series that year, winning 2 games and posting a 1.80 ERA. One of those victories was a 4-hit shutout in Game 7.

Southpaw Whitey Ford was nicknamed "Slick" for his coolness under fire. Mickey Mantle commented that Ford had "nerves of steel." Yogi Berra said that Ford was so easy to catch, he could have done it "sitting in a rocking chair." Ford's .690 lifetime winning percentage is highest among pitchers with 200 career wins. Until recently, he held the Yankee record for strikeouts. It was broken in 2013 by Andy Pettitte. Ford won 10 World Series games during his career and posted a 2.71 ERA in the Fall Classic. 

                                                                  1961              1962             1963
Whitey Ford                                                25-4               23-12             24-7
Ralph Terry                                                  16-3               17-8             17-15

Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax/ Los Angeles Dodgers (1963-1965)

Koufax's era of dominance was relatively brief. After pitching ineffectively for several seasons, it was discovered that he was gripping the ball too tightly when he threw. A simple adjustment was all that was necessary to make him one of the most devastating pitchers in the majors. Between '61 and '66, he won three triple crowns while posting the lowest ERA in the NL for five straight seasons.He became the first hurler to toss four no-hitters. An arthritic elbow forced him into early retirement.

Drysdale gathered 14 or more wins eight times between '57 and '68. He captured Cy Young and MVP honors in '62, posting a 25-9 record with 232 strikeouts. His crowning achievement came in '68, when he tossed six consecutive shutouts. His record of 58 straight scoreless innings stood until Orel Hershiser broke it in 1988. An intimidating presence on the hill, Drysdale hit 154 batters in his career--among the top totals of all time.

                                                                  1963             1964            1965
Sandy Koufax                                               25-5              19-5             26-8
Don Drysdale                                               19-17            18-16           23-12

Denny McLain and Mickey Lolich/ Detroit Tigers (1965-1969)

McLain enjoyed his peak seasons between '65 and '69, winning no fewer than 16 games and leading the AL twice in that category. To date, he remains the last pitcher to gather 30 wins in a season, a feat he accomplished in '68. He posted back-to-back 300-inning campaigns in '68/'69, capturing Cy Young honors both years. His arm was never the same after that and he slowly lost his effectiveness. Off the field, McLain's life was a hot mess as he went to prison twice for charges of fraud and embezzlement.

Southpaw Mickey Lolich was one of the greatest Tiger hurlers of all time, winning 14 or more games every year from 1964-1974. He led the league with 25 victories in '71. In the '68 World Series, Lolich turned in one of the greatest performances in history, going 3-0 with a 1.67 ERA. He was a lock for Series MVP. A power pitcher in his prime, Lolich finished among top five in strikeouts eight times--leading the league with 308 in '71.

                                                              1965             1966            1967            1968           1969
Denny McLain                                           16-6            20-14           17-16           31-8            24-9
Mickey Lolich                                            15-9            14-14           14-13           17-9            19-11

Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry/ San Francisco Giants (1966-'71)

Dominican hurler Juan Marichal reached the 20-win threshold six times between '63 and '69, leading the league twice. A nine-time All-Star, he was cursed to pitch in the same era as Drysdale, Koufax and Bob Gibson, who dominated Cy Young honors while Marichal was in his prime. Marichal is best remembered for his high leg-kick on the mound. He led the league in shutouts in '65/'69. He also paced the loop with a 2.10 ERA in '69.

Gaylord Perry got away with throwing spitballs for years. He later admitted his indiscretions in his 1974 autobiography, which was appropriately titled Me and the Spitter. A two-time Cy Young Award recipient, the Giants were the first stop in Perry's long career. He won win 314 games with eight different teams and spent roughly equal amounts of time in both leagues.

                                                                   1966          1968          1969           1970            1971
Juan Marichal                                                25-6           26-9          21-11          12-10*        18-11
Gaylord Perry                                                21-8          16-15        19-14          23-13          16-12
*-Marichal's season was shortened due to illness

Jim Bunning and Chris Short/ Philadelphia Phillies (1964-1966)

Bunning pitched the first regular season perfect game in more than forty years during the '64 slate. By then, he was a veteran of nine major league seasons and had won 14 or more games on five occasions. Known for his lively fastball, elusive slider and sidearm delivery, Bunning led the league in strikeouts three times and shutouts twice. He later served in the House of Representatives and the Senate. Bunning spent nine years with the Tigers and six with the Phillies. 

Short's name accurately describes his era of dominance in the majors, which lasted from 1964-1968. He won 17 or more games four times in that span while consistently keeping his ERA below 3.00. The left-hander never led the league in any major category aside from wild pitches in '61. Through 2004, his 132 career wins ranked fourth for the Phillies behind Steve Carlton, Robin Roberts and Pete Alexander.

                                                                             1964             1965              1966
Jim Bunning                                                           19-8              19-9              20-10
Chris Short                                                             17-9              18-11            19-14

Tom Seaver and Jerry Koosman/ New York Mets (1968-1970)

Seaver joined the Mets in '67 and had an immediate impact, capturing Rookie of the Year honors with 16 wins, 18 complete games and 170 strikeouts. The right-hander, known as "Tom Terrific" to fans, led the NL in strikeouts five times and ERA on three occasions while pitching in New York. During the Mets' improbable World Series run in 1969, Seaver paced the loop with 25 victories. He retired with 311 career wins and three Cy Young Awards.

Southpaw Jerry Koosman made his big league debut the same year as Seaver and ended up winning more than 200 big league games. He appeared to be on his way to super-stardom before suffering serious injuries in '70 and '71. He enjoyed sporadic success after that, winning 21 decisions in '76 and 20 in '79. Seaver departed in '77 and Koosman couldn't do it by himself as the Mets fell out of contention.

                                                                                1968            1969            1970
Tom Seaver                                                               16-12           25-7             18-12
Jerry Koosman                                                          19-12           17-9             12-7*
*-Koosman's season was cut short due to an elbow injury

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