Takashi Saito is not Eric Gagne; at least not yet.
Eric Gagne succeeded in saving 84 consecutive opportunities during the 2002, 2003, and 2004 seasons in a display of dominance that may never be matched.
Takashi Saito, in his attempt to emulate the success of Gagne, has not blown a save since August 25th, 2006. Since that day, the Los Angeles Dodgers have played 84 games and Saito has converted all 25 of his save chances.
It would be naive to think that 84 games played by your team without a blown save is comparable to 84 consecutive opportunities without one, but it’s a start and if you look at the numbers of the two relievers, they’re more similar than you might think.
Gagne used an extremely simple plan for converting saves; if he struck you out you couldn’t hurt him.
In the three seasons that covered his consecutive saves record, Gagne struck out 365 batters while only waking 58 for a strike out to walk ratio of over 6:1.
In Saito’s 1 1/3 seasons as a major leaguer, he has struck out 133 batters while walking just 25; a ratio of better than 5:1. In the first two months of 2007, Saito has struck out 26 and walked only 2; a 13:1 ratio.
Eric Gagne compiled an earned run average of 1.79 and a whip of 0.82 during those three seasons.
Takashi Saito has an era of 1.97 and a whip of .84 in his 8 months of Major League Baseball.
Eric Gagne threw 14.92 pitches per inning. Takashi Saito is throwing 16.3.
Gagne had batting averages against of .133, .181, and .189. Saito has batting averages against of .177 and .188.
The numbers are strikingly similar. This doesn’t mean that Saito will be able to accomplish what Gagne has achieved, but it does mean that the Dodgers once again are in possession of a dominant closer.
This is a good thing.