Soderholm-Difatte: Why Branca? Assessing Charlie Dressen’s options

From SABR member Bryan Soderholm-Difatte at on November 27, 2016:

Taking a 4-1 lead into the last of the 9th, three outs away from the pennant, Dodgers manager Charlie Dressen needed Don Newcombe to go the distance, exhausted as he was from having now faced 87 batters in 22⅔ innings in three games over five days just to keep Brooklyn’s hopes alive for the pennant. The reason why was because the underlying reality, which Dressen surely knew, was that the Dodgers no longer had a bullpen worthy of the name. But after a pair of singles and a double made the score 4-2 with the tying runs in scoring position, only one out, and Bobby Thomson coming to bat, Dressen knew Big Newk could go no further.

He needed just two outs. But who was he gonna call?

Clyde King, who Yankee fans of a certain age remember as one in a long line of managers George Steinbrenner hired and fired in the 1980s, had been the ace of the Dodgers pen . . . until throwing 23⅔ innings in 11 games in 27 days from July 26 to August 22 took such a toll on his arm that he was never the same againas in, really, never. At the time, King was 14-5 with 5 saves and a 3.36 ERA in 38 games out of the bullpen. He appeared in only 10 games the rest of the way in 1951, pitching just 14⅓ innings, and had a 10.67 earned run average, then pitched 58 more games and had an ugly 5.16 ERA the next two years before leaving his big league pitching career behind. So . . . no King to come save the day.

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Originally published: November 28, 2016. Last Updated: November 28, 2016.