Jason Grilli Going Down in History Of Pittsburgh Pirates Closers

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Pirates Closer Jason Grilli Going Down In Bucs History

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest question marks coming into the season for the Pittsburgh Pirates was whether Jason Grilli could handle the closer's role. That is no longer a question as he leads the majors in saves and is a perfect 21-for-21 in save opportunities. He and Mark Melancon have been an impressive 1-2 punch at the back end of the bullpen, and both could end up All-Stars. At his current pace, he would finish the season with about 63 saves, which would be a major league record just eclipsing Francisco Rodriguez's 62.

So all this Grilli stuff got me thinking — who has the most saves in a season for the Pirates? The Pirates have never really had a shutdown closer that lasted several seasons like a Trevor Hoffman, Mariano Rivera or even a Jonathan Papelbon. The closest thing the Pirates ever had was back in the 70's with sidearm pitcher Kent Tekulve. Surprisingly, his best season — he saved 31 games twice — doesn't even crack the top five for the franchise. We will give Tekulve a pass though, because we know that saves were much harder to come by in his day.

The following slideshow is a list of the top five saves totals in a single season for the Pirates. The list has some surprising names and some that you may have forgotten about. So, where do you think Grilli will eventually wind up on this list? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Now, in my best Casey Kasem voice, I present to you the top five.

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5. Jim Gott

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Gott was with the Pirates for just three seasons, and one of those consisted of just 0.2 innings pitched. In 1988, he saved 34 games, which was a career-high.

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4. Joel Hanrahan

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Hanrahan was the team's closer for just two seasons. In his second season, 2012, he saved 36. Now he sits on the disabled list for the Boston Red Sox.

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3. Joel Hanrahan

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Hanrahan's first season as closer in 2011 was an impressive one. He had an earned run average of 1.83 and saved 40 games for the Bucs.

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2. Jose Mesa

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Mesa was a successful closer for several teams, including the Cleveland Indians, Philadelphia Phillies and Seattle Mariners. He spent two seasons in Pittsburgh and saved 43 games in 2004.

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1. Mike Williams

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From 1998 to 2003, Williams was the closer for the Pirates. In 2002, he tallied 46 saves for a team that had just 72 wins.