Red Sox greatest relief pitcher bargains in franchise history
#5) Mike Timlin
The Contract: $1.85 million for the 2003 season (years via Baseball Almanac, salary via Baseball Reference).
The Red Sox bullpen was less than stellar in 2003. In fact, as a unit, they had the third worst ERA in baseball at 4.87. This made Mike Timlin all the more valuable. This was a year that Ramiro Mendoza pitched 66.2 innings for the Red Sox despite having a 6.75 ERA and a 146 ERA-. It’s really hard to imagine that the Red Sox beat out the Mariners for the wild card – the Red Sox won 95 games and the Mariners won 93 – if you give a good portion of Timlin’s 83.2 innings to pitchers of that quality.
And even if the Red Sox make the postseason without Timlin, they certainly wouldn’t have made it as far without him. The Red Sox climbed out of a 0-2 hole and edged out the A’s in five games in the 2003 ALDS. In Game 3, on the brink of elimination, Timlin came in to start the 8th inning of a tied game and kept the A’s from reaching base for three innings before the Red Sox won in the 11th. That performance was part of a playoff run in which Timlin threw 9.2 innings and allowed one hit while striking out 11 batters and walking two.
2003 didn’t end the way the Red Sox had hoped it would of course, but the Red Sox would re-sign Timlin after the season and he will always be remembered for his role in the 2004 and 2007 World Series Championships.