November 13, 2003
On the day where Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw is expected the be announced National League Cy Young, we take a look back at another Dodger pitcher that won the award on this day 10 years ago.
Dodger closer Eric Gagne became the ninth reliever ever to win the award after a season in which he had a 1.20 ERA with 55 saves and 137 strikeouts in 77 appearances. Gagne was a perfect 55-55 in save opportunities that season and was carrying a streak that began in 2002 and wouldn’t end until 2004, a total of 84 consecutive saves. That season, the right-handed reliever led the league in games finished (67) and saves in 82.1 innings of work. His 55 saves tied John Smoltz’s record for most saves in a season in the NL.
He became the seventh different Dodger to win the award and it was the ninth time a Dodger pitcher won the award in franchise history. Gagne also became the second Dodger reliever to win the award joining reliever and 1974 recipient Mike Marshall.
Gagne became the Dodgers closer after a failed attempt at being a starting pitcher with the team. He was moved to the bullpen before the 2002 season and soon became the Dodgers closer. He would finish the 2002 season with 52 saves and begin his record-breaking streak of 84 consecutive saves. The Canadian-born closer became a fan favorite and was the reason for the phrase “Game Over”, as it referenced the fact that once he came in that the game was in fact over. Gagne soon adopted “Welcome to the Jungle” as the song that played when he entered games, similar to “Enter Sandman” with Mariano Rivera or “Hell’s Bells” with Trevor Hoffman.
After a 45-save season in 2004, Gagne battled injuries in 2005 and 2006 and didn’t return to the Dodgers. He would pitch for a few more teams but never had the same success and it was later revealed that he used HGH during his career.
ICYMI: The Mets could be targeting two of the Dodgers high-priced outfielders this winter.