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Monday, November 22, 2021

Former Astros closer Doug Jones dies, says ex-teammate

Greg Swindell, a teammate of Jones’ in Houston and Cleveland, tweeted Monday afternoon that Jones had died of complications from COVID-19.

Jones, who joined Houston as a free agent in the 1991 offseason, pitched for the Astros from 1992-93, saving 62 games. Jones was a National League All-Star in 1992, when he had a 1.85 ERA and led the NL in games finished with 70. Jones finished 14th in NL MVP voting that season….

Jones also pitched for the Indians, Brewers, A’s, Phillies, Cubs and Orioles during a 16-year career in the majors that included five All-Star appearances. He finished with 303 saves, with five seasons of 30 or more saves.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 22, 2021 at 03:50 PM | 43 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: doug jones, obituaries

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   1. Rough Carrigan Posted: November 22, 2021 at 03:53 PM (#6054046)
Batters he faced thought he had died much faster than he actually did.

RIP a great practitioner of the perplexing slow pitch.
   2. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 22, 2021 at 04:09 PM (#6054053)
Had his rookie season at age 30, saved 303 games. Remarkable career. RIP.
   3. Hombre Brotani Posted: November 22, 2021 at 04:12 PM (#6054055)
He was the first closer that I can recall whose fastball couldn't break a pane of glass -- I think it was Mark Langston who once said that his fastball shouldn't even be called fastball -- but still managed to be so very effective out of the bullpen for so many years.

May he and that epic 'stache rest in peace.
   4. Bourbon Samurai stays in the fight Posted: November 22, 2021 at 04:31 PM (#6054062)
Made 70 relief appearances, 104 innings for the 1999 A's at age 42. Quite a moustache. Always felt like he would have fit in just fine on the Major League Indians.
   5. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: November 22, 2021 at 05:03 PM (#6054068)

Always felt like he would have fit in just fine on the Major League Indians.

Baseball Reference says that his nickname was "Mild Thing", which is fantastic. RIP.
   6. . . . . . . Posted: November 22, 2021 at 05:04 PM (#6054070)
Doug Jones said he threw a changeup, everyone else said he threw a changeup, but I will always insist it was a ####### screwball and there is some weird reticence to be known as a screwballer.
   7. Gary Truth Serum Posted: November 22, 2021 at 05:30 PM (#6054076)
The only time I even voted for the rec-sport-baseball MVP awards (later the Baseball Prospectus Internet Baseball Awards) was in 1992 and I was convinced that Jones was the sixth most deserving player in the NL. Probably wouldn't stand up to modern metrics, but I sure was convinced then.

A mild curse continues. He's the fourth member of the 1992 Astros to die (Ken Caminiti, Darryl Kile, Andujar Cedeno) and the third early-90s National League West closer to die, after Rod Beck and Dave Smith. And oddly enough, unless I missed someone, the first death in either of those two groups in 13 years.
   8. John DiFool2 Posted: November 22, 2021 at 05:32 PM (#6054077)
He was the first closer that I can recall whose fastball couldn't break a pane of glass


Hoyt Wilhelm & Bob Stanley say hi.
   9. gef the talking mongoose, peppery hostile Posted: November 22, 2021 at 05:52 PM (#6054080)
Goddammit. One of my very favorite players going back to 1988, when I traded for him for my first fantasy team ever.
   10. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: November 22, 2021 at 06:05 PM (#6054086)
Only 12 pitchers have had a 120 ERA+, minimum 70 IP, at age 43 or older, in a total of 18 seasons. (Hoyt Wilhelm did it five times: 1966-70, ages 43 thru 47. He was even an All-Star in 1970!)
   11. Captain Joe Bivens, Elderly Northeastern Jew Posted: November 22, 2021 at 06:16 PM (#6054088)
Bob Stanley say hi.


Bob Stanley was a sinker ball pitcher. He wasn't a soft tosser, at all.
   12. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: November 22, 2021 at 06:28 PM (#6054093)
RIP. Fun guy to watch.

Doesn't the site have a poster named Doug Jones threw harder then me?
   13. Hombre Brotani Posted: November 22, 2021 at 06:50 PM (#6054099)
Hoyt Wilhelm & Bob Stanley say hi.
Wilhelm retired the year I was born. My recollection of his fastball is fuzzy at best.
   14. Captain Joe Bivens, Elderly Northeastern Jew Posted: November 22, 2021 at 06:51 PM (#6054100)
Wilhelm was primarily a knuckleballer.
   15. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 22, 2021 at 07:37 PM (#6054111)
He was the first closer that I can recall whose fastball couldn't break a pane of glass


Hoyt Wilhelm & Bob Stanley say hi.


Dan Quisenberry and Kent Tekulve
   16. What if I planted tomatoes Posted: November 22, 2021 at 08:53 PM (#6054119)
Pitched for the Brewers for almost two seasons. Saw an interview where he was asked about the pattern in his career where he would go from good seasons to bad and then back again. He explained that his pitch,was very much predicated on a precise series of actions and if one thing was off the whole sequence failed and the pitch would be hittable. Just in his short time with Milwaukee he gave up some ginormous dingers

I can remember the look of his pitches almost looking like lob throws and hitters just crushing it out like it was slow pitch softball
   17. Mayor Blomberg Posted: November 22, 2021 at 08:56 PM (#6054120)
"Doug Jones throws harder than me" needs to change his handle.
   18. Captain Joe Bivens, Elderly Northeastern Jew Posted: November 22, 2021 at 09:01 PM (#6054122)
For his fastball to work he had to throw a lot of 70mph junk, and hope that hitters would be guessing junk while getting 82mph.
   19. CFBF is Obsessed with Art Deco Posted: November 22, 2021 at 09:17 PM (#6054124)
Jones made four starts in his career, all in 1991 with Cleveland. What was the deal there? A terrible India...Guardians team just saying, "Screw it, let's try something weird?"
   20. Itchy Row Posted: November 22, 2021 at 09:33 PM (#6054125)
His four starts that year lowered his ERA from 7.47 to 5.63. He wasn't just an early version of an opener, either, He pitched at least seven innings in each start.
   21. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 22, 2021 at 09:34 PM (#6054126)

Jones made four starts in his career, all in 1991 with Cleveland. What was the deal there? A terrible India...Guardians team just saying, "Screw it, let's try something weird?"


He was demoted in July with a 7.47 ERA, then they had him start in AAA. He returned to the big leagues in September. In his four starts he went:

8.2 IP 2 R
8 IP 1 R 13 K!!!!!
7 IP 4 R
7.1 IP 8 R (6 ER)

From August 1991:

Former Indians relief ace Doug Jones, being used as a starter at Class AAA Colorado Springs, pitched a seven-inning shutout last week. Explaining Jones' move from relief to starter, player development director Dan O'Dowd said: "We had to try something. Even kids in Triple-A were sitting on the changeup."
   22. CFBF is Obsessed with Art Deco Posted: November 22, 2021 at 09:40 PM (#6054129)
Nice to see Dan O'Dowd going with "We had to try something" even back in 1991.
   23. My name is Votto, and I love to get Moppo Posted: November 22, 2021 at 10:06 PM (#6054135)
Those mid to late 80s Cleveland teams were bad and boring, and we went to see them every summer when visiting my grandparents. Doug Jones was a lone bright spot, along with mid-career Julio Franco, Joe Carter, and……well that’s about it. It was the Cleveland broadcast that made a point that I still believe to this day: a good closer is important to a bad team in order to get the wins on the rare days when you play well. Jones wasn’t your classic closer, but he was dammed effective. RIP
   24. Hombre Brotani Posted: November 22, 2021 at 10:25 PM (#6054136)
Those mid to late 80s Cleveland teams were bad and boring
You're forgetting Ricky Vaughn, Willie Mays Hayes, and Pedro Cerrano.
   25. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: November 22, 2021 at 10:27 PM (#6054137)
Even after his passing, he probably still throws harder than me. I first learned about him during his end of career stint with the As. He struck a lot of people out with an 82mph fastball right down the middle. As was said earlier, it was a very precise set of events necessary to make what was otherwise a meatball unhittable. It was fascinating to watch him warm up on the bullpen. He would practice slow, slower, and more slower, till it almost stopped. To answer another poster - he did throw a real screwball ocassionally,occasionally, but the circle change as he threw it had and has a screwball action. Somebody made a wonderful if grainy compilation of his strikeouts on YouTube which I will dig up. RIP Mr. Jones
   26. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: November 22, 2021 at 10:39 PM (#6054139)
Doug Jones was a lone bright spot, along with mid-career Julio Franco, Joe Carter, and……well that’s about it.
Oh how quickly we forget Tom Candiotti, and Cory Snyder’s mustache.
   27. we all water; we all 57i66135 Posted: November 22, 2021 at 10:42 PM (#6054141)
til: doug jones is not todd jones.
   28. tonywagner Posted: November 22, 2021 at 10:44 PM (#6054142)
Jones made four starts in his career, all in 1991 with Cleveland. What was the deal there? A terrible India...Guardians team just saying, "Screw it, let's try something weird?"

I think it was a bit of a fad around the league at the time. Dan Plesac and Randy Myers made their first MLB starts in late 1991 too, and they weren't even struggling like Jones.
   29. SoSH U at work Posted: November 22, 2021 at 11:08 PM (#6054147)

til: doug jones is not todd jones.


They had quite a bit in common besides the last name. Relievers. Long careers with lots of stops. Good staches. Flame-free throwing.

I was surprised to see Doug was quite a bit better.
   30. It's regretful that PASTE was able to get out Posted: November 22, 2021 at 11:14 PM (#6054150)
I think it was a bit of a fad around the league at the time. Dan Plesac and Randy Myers made their first MLB starts in late 1991 too, and they weren't even struggling like Jones.


I don't know the circumstances of those starts, but the occasional Opener against a heavily platooned opponent wasn't unheard of right in that era--Leyland famously did it in the NLCS with Ted Power.
   31. Tulo's Fishy Mullet (mrams) Posted: November 23, 2021 at 12:16 AM (#6054156)
I once won a bet with a fellow Brewers fan on a T/F; Doug Jones played for the 1982 Brewers.
   32. Esoteric Posted: November 23, 2021 at 07:32 AM (#6054177)
   33. tonywagner Posted: November 23, 2021 at 07:58 AM (#6054186)
I don't know the circumstances of those starts, but the occasional Opener against a heavily platooned opponent wasn't unheard of right in that era--Leyland famously did it in the NLCS with Ted Power.

Nope. Plesac and Myers were both moved into a traditional starting role for awhile in 1991, just like Jones.
   34. O Tempura, O Morays ('Spos) Posted: November 23, 2021 at 08:05 AM (#6054187)
Thanks for the link!
   35. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: November 23, 2021 at 09:06 AM (#6054205)
The link from #32 was the one I was thinking about, but this one is also very good, with a really nice extended interview with Mr. Jones

Doug Jones, Lebanon Legend
   36. SoSH U at work Posted: November 23, 2021 at 09:15 AM (#6054207)
I'm surprised I never knew that Doug was a Hoosier (transplant, at least).
   37. Tony S Posted: November 23, 2021 at 09:15 AM (#6054208)

The changeup and Mr. Jones. They had a thing goin' on...

But how can you call it a changeup? What is it "changing" from?

Fun pitcher, nice career. R.I.P.
   38. salvomania Posted: November 23, 2021 at 11:05 AM (#6054241)
Only 25 pitchers have saved 35+ games in a season four times, and Doug Jones is one of them (as is Todd).

That seems to me like something that a lot more relievers would have accomplished, but only three active pitcher has done it (Jansen, Kimbrel, Chapman)
   39. Doug Jones threw harder than me Posted: November 23, 2021 at 11:10 AM (#6054243)
But how can you call it a changeup? What is it "changing" from?


Some say that Jones' real changeup was his "fastball"

Doug Jones' change-of-pace

In the interview posted above he said he would throw his "fastball" 3 different speeds and his changeup three different speeds, giving him effectively 6 different pitches. It was a "circle change", so naturally it would tail to the right like a screwball, but watching videos you can see that sometimes he would give it a wrinkle so it would have more slider action.
   40. cookiedabookie Posted: November 23, 2021 at 11:50 AM (#6054248)
His second most innings-pitched came in his age 42 season. That can't be very common, and I wouldn't be surprised if he was the only one to do it
   41. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: November 23, 2021 at 12:03 PM (#6054252)
I was wondering why he retired after putting up a respectable 3.93 ERA in 73 innings, and apparently he had to be talked out of retirement for his last season anyway.

He almost quit at age 27. He had to pay his own way for a tryout with Cleveland after Milwaukee let him go.

SABR profile

After a few poor outings, Jones realized he had little to lose by experimenting with a new pitch he’d learned from former Vancouver teammate Willie Mueller, an offspeed pitch thrown without the use of his forefinger, the ball held between his thumb and remaining three fingers.8 Jones could always hit his spots with his fastball, curve, and occasional knuckleball, but the new pitch gave him a devastating changeup that threw opposing hitters off balance. In his next outing, Jones pitched three scoreless innings, and the Indians were impressed enough to sign him to a minor-league contract.

   42. sanny manguillen Posted: November 23, 2021 at 12:44 PM (#6054258)
Per Pirate twitter, Bill Virdon RIP at 90.
   43. The Honorable Ardo Posted: November 23, 2021 at 05:05 PM (#6054334)
Those 1982 Brewers could've used Jones in their bullpen. Alas...

Jones's fastball maxed out at 87 and usually sat at 83-85. He mainly throw it at the letters or above, sometimes (if he was feeling frisky) for a get-me-over strike. It was his off-speed pitch.

The circle change had some natural down-and-out action (most good ones do; so did Pedro's), but he could transform it into cutter or slider action, or throw a true screwball. It was a whole family of pitches off the same general premise.

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