Much like it is now with Kenley Jansen closing out games, there was a period for the Los Angeles Dodgers when a lead in the ninth inning all but guaranteed a win. From 2002-04, that confidence was provided by Eric Gagne.
During that three year stretch, Gagne converted a Major-League record 84 consecutive saves for the Dodgers. His fastball and changeup mix proved to be nearly unhittable. Gagne last pitched in the Majors for the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008, but this past spring made it known that he was attempting a comeback.
While serving as a pitching instructor at Dodgers Spring Training, Gagne was also throwing bullpen sessions as preparation for the 2017 World Baseball Classic and to audition for teams. He ultimately signed earlier this month with the Long Island Ducks of the the Independent Atlantic League.
Gagne has decided to end his comeback attempt after a brief stint with the Ducks, via Chris Cotillo of SB Nation:
Eric Gagne confirms to me that he is ending his comeback attempt after rough 3.2 innings with LI Ducks. Will turn focus to coaching.
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) May 21, 2017
Gagne recorded 161 saves with a 3.27 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over parts of eight seasons with the Dodgers. He was named an All-Star three-times from 2002-04, and won the 2003 National League Cy Young Award when he converted all 55 save opportunities with a 1.10 ERA.
In 10 seasons with the Dodgers, Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox and Brewers, Gagne recorded 187 saves and yielded a 3.47 ERA.
He expressed a strong hope to re-sign with the Dodgers, though the two sides reportedly never grew close to agreeing to a contract.