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Atlanta Braves Opening Day countdown: 71, aging Phil Niekro

As we rely down to Atlanta Braves Opening Day, we take a seem at 1 of the faces of the Braves franchise and his manufacturing late in his everyday living.

As the 2019 time nears, the Atlanta Braves seem forward to Opening Day to defend their National League East crown. Nowadays, we mark 71 times till Opening Day by hunting at Phil Niekro‘s remarkable profession.

Early Niekro

Phil Niekro was initially signed by the Milwaukee Braves in 1959, and he expended a number of many years in the minors prior to eventually cracking the majors in 1964 at age 25. He worked generally as a reliever till 1967, when he expended his initial calendar year as a swingman, and he was remarkable, winning the Era title with a 1.87 Era above 207 innings split amongst 26 aid appearances and 20 commences. He also saved 9 games, which was a profession superior.

Niekro’s 20s with Atlanta ended up relatively rough as he received a late start off. In general, he pitched 5 seasons in his 20s in the Braves group, with 31 wins, posting a 2.56 Era above 603 2/3 innings.

Niekro’s middle many years

His full 30’s ended up expended with the Atlanta Braves, although through that time, the Braves ended up rarely excellent. As a knuckleballer, Niekro pitched much more typically and was in a position to tally up a ton of innings, topping 300 innings a few situations in his 30’s.

Niekro built All-Star games in his 30’s, which includes his initial 1 at age 30 in 1969. Because of to typically pitching deep into his games, Niekro had a choice in 310 of his 402 games. He AVERAGED 40 games and 37 commences above the ten years, averaging 282 innings and a 3.18 Era.

Like a fine wine

For the initial time in his profession, Niekro still left the Atlanta Braves in his 40’s, but he waited till he was 45. He did return to the Braves to finish his profession in 1987 at age 48.

Very, Niekro won 71 games (therefore his inclusion for #71!) in his 40’s as a member of the Atlanta Braves. Very, in his age 40 time, 1979, Niekro led the National League in wins when also primary the key leagues in losses, commences, finish games, and innings pitched. He had a 21-20 report, the only time considering that Earth War I that a pitcher had recorded both 20 wins and 20 losses in the same time.

He expended a few seasons through his 40’s with other corporations, but Knucksie’s Braves-only studies would rank him in the best 7 of all pitchers in MLB historical past through his 40’s in wins, commences, and innings, although he’s appreciably the chief in key league historical past if you insert in his time elsewhere.

Future: Braves Opening Day countdown: the 70s

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The Atlanta Braves have been blessed to have remarkable players in their historical past, but several have been as effective for as extensive as Phil Niekro was.

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