Kent Tekulve – Cincinnati Reds
Another one of the best relievers in Pittsburgh Pirates history is Kent Tekulve. Known most famously as Teke and the Rubberband Man, Tekulve took over the reins of the closer role a few years after Dave Giusti, who was Roy Face’s successor.
Tekulve was an absolute workhorse out of the bullpen, even back then. Throughout the 16 years in the major leagues, Teke led the league in appearances four times and reached 100+ innings pitched seven times, including four straight seasons from 1976 through 1979. He has the 6th most innings pitched by any reliever of all time, but the most by any pitcher who never started a game in their career. Overall, he was a quality reliever who had a sub-2.00 ERA 9 times. His career ERA of 2.85 makes him one of 167 total qualified relievers with a sub-3.00 ERA.
Now everyone knows about the Rubberband Man’s time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, and most know about the 4-season stretch with the Philadelphia Phillies. However, most forget about his 1989 stint with the Cincinnati Reds. Teke’s last 52 innings came as a Cincinnati Red. He did poorly, posting a 5.02 ERA, 4.15 FIP, and 1.52 WHIP. It was only the second time he had a sub-100 ERA+ in at least 50 innings of work in his entire career. The only other time came the season before when he had a 99 ERA+ through 80 innings with the Phils.
Tekulve was a consistently great reliever. 1989 is the only true bad season of his career, the final season where he was 42-years-old. It was the only season he was ever noticeably below average. It is a testament to just how good Teke was during his career. Not only was he a guy who came in and pitched multiple innings at a time, but he was damn good at it too.