Jeff Innis was an anonymous pitcher on one of the least anonymous staffs in baseball.
The Mets pitching staff of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s had a swagger to them. Dwight Gooden, Ron Darling, Sid Fernandez, Bobby Ojeda and David Cone all had a big game quality to them and joining the likes of their staff meant being one of the best.
Even Frank Viola, coming off a Cy Young season in Minnesota, sometimes looked like he had a hard time fitting in.
Their bullpen also was filled with colorful characters, like Roger McDowell, Jesse Orosco, Randy Myers, Rick Aguilera and later John Franco. And between the starters and the relievers, they all seemed to compile gaudy win loss totals and saves over the season. Even Terry Leach piled up an 11-1 record in 1987.
Innis was an exception. He came into games and almost never was a factor in the decision of a game.
The Illinois native made his debut with the 1987 Mets, coming off of their World Championship season. He got the loss in his first ever appearance. Decisions would be the exception, not the rule with Innis, a submarining reliever.
Going back and forth between Triple A and Flushing in 1987, 1988 and 1989 he would post a 1-3 record… total… over 3 years. And in that same period, he would start one single game and save none.
He pitched well in that stretch, posting a 1.89 ERA over 19 innings in 1988, but never was pitching in a situation where the game was resting on his shoulders. In 1990, after compiling nearly 100 minor league saves, he finally recorded a big league save. He went the final 2/3 of an inning in a 4-2 win over the Mets. He also won a single game in 1990.
In 1991, he set a strange record. He became the first pitcher in MLB history to pitch in at least 60 games in a season without recording a win or a save.
He won a career high 6 games and lost 9, all out of the pen in 1992 and by 1993, playing on one of the worst Mets teams of all time, Innis saved 3 games.
It would be the end of his career. He would bounce around in the Twins, Padres and Phillies organization but never made it back to the bigs. Maybe if he wasn’t crowded in a deep Mets pitching staff, he would have been able to make a bigger impression as a reliever.
This Topps card shows once again the creative staff was getting bored in the 1990’s. I hated any horizontal cards. That is NOT the way one holds a baseball card.
But there he is, coming in sideways in a game at Shea… no doubt one where he got a No Decision in.