The record for most decisions by a reliever in a single season is 31, set by Toronto native, John Hiller, of the Detroit Tigers in 1974.
The idea of a relief pitcher having that many decisions in a single season in today’s game is laughable, because it’s essentially impossible. Hiller set this in a time when relievers were routinely pitching well over 100 innings, with his inning count reaching 150 that season. Now, most relievers will usually max out somewhere around 80 innings, although some will occasionally get into the 90s, with Jalen Beeks even going over 100 for the Rays in 2019. The point is, Hiller’s record is completely untouchable because no reliever will ever pitch that many innings again.
But what if we put a cap on how many innings the reliever had pitched? Amongst every reliever with 90 innings pitched or less in a single season, Bob Grim and Lindy McDaniel hold the record for most decisions, with 20, in 1957 for Grim, and 1963 for McDaniel. As of writing this, Adam Cimber currently has 15 in just 61 innings pitched. Here’s how he got there.
Decision 1: April 8th vs Texas Rangers
I imagine most of you remember this game. After going down 7-0 to the Rangers in the 4th inning of the 2022 season opener, the Blue Jays stormed back to take an 8-7 lead entering the 7th. Adam Cimber is brought in to hold that lead and retires the first two Texas batters on just two pitches. The third batter he faces is Adolis Garcia, who after getting ahead in the count 2-1, sends a slider over the plate to right field for a solo homer to tie the game, and Cimber is charged with a blown save. Fortunately for him, the Blue Jays would take back the lead in the bottom of that inning, and he would be handed with the win.
Decision 2: April 13th @ New York Yankees
After going up 3-0 in the third inning, Jose Berrios allows three runs in the bottom of the 5th for the Yankees to tie it up. Cimber comes in for the 6th to keep things tied for the Blue Jays, forces Aaron Hicks to ground out on five pitches, and then retires the next two batters on just two pitches to end the inning. The Blue Jays would take the lead back in the 7th and then, Vladimir Guerrero Jr‘s third homer of the game in the 8th gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. The Jays win 6-4 and Adam Cimber is given his second win of the season.
Decision 3: April 15 vs Oakland A’s
Despite the Blue Jays going up 2-0 early and never relinquishing the lead, starter Ross Stripling only goes four innings, making him ineligible for the win. Trevor Richards throws a 1-2-3 5th but Tim Mayza allows a run and can only manage to get one out in the 6th, so Cimber comes in to finish off the inning. Cimber stays in for the 7th and completes a five-up, five-down outing. In situations where the starter of the winning team doesn’t go five innings but leaves with the lead, the official scorer gives the win to the reliever they deemed most effective. Thanks to his 1.2 perfect innings, Cimber is awarded the win.
Decision 4: April 25 vs Boston Red Sox
Up 2-0 through seven innings, Blue Jays starter, Jose Berrios, is cruising but allows back-to-back singles to lead off the 8th. Cimber is called upon to limit the damage but allows both runners to score thanks to a sac-bunt, a single, and a sac-fly. Despite not being credited with any earned runs, Cimber still gets charged with his second blown save of the season. However, a Bo Bichette grand slam in the bottom of the inning would give the Jays a 6-2 victory, thus giving Cimber his fourth win of the year.
Decision 5: May 3 vs New York Yankees
Jameson Taillon and Alek Manoah were locked in a pitcher’s duel, with both of them going six innings and allowing just one run. Cimber comes in for the 7th to keep the game tied but after a Bo Bichette throwing error allows the leadoff man to reach, things start to unravel. In the next at-bat, Josh Donaldson doubles and scores the runner from first, then after a strikeout of Gleyber Torres, Marwin Gonzalez doubles to score Donaldson. Cimber is pulled after this and four more Yankees would score in the inning. He finishes the night with only 0.1 inning pitched, three runs allowed, only one of which was earned, and his first loss of the season.
Decision 6: May 8 @ Cleveland Guardians
In the second game of a doubleheader in Cleveland, the Blue Jays had a 3-2 leader entering the 8th. After getting the last out of the 7th, Tim Mayza stays in to keep the lead in the 8th, but allows a solo shot to the second batter he sees, leading to Cimber entering the game with two outs. He allows a single, a walk, and the another single, leading to another Guardians run. He gets out of the innings as Andres Gimenez gets thrown out trying to get from first to third, but the Jays can’t rally in the 9th, and Cimber gets charged with another loss.
Decision 7: May 28 @ Los Angeles Angels
A two-run shot from Mike Trout in the bottom of the 7th that gave the Angels a 4-3 lead chased Julian Merryweather from the game and brought Cimber in with no outs. He retired three of the four batters he faced and kept the deficit to one entering the 8th, where the Blue Jays would rally to score three and take a 6-4 lead. Despite allowing a run in the bottom of the 9th, the Jays held on to win this one and got Cimber back in the win column.
Decision 8: May 29 @ Los Angeles Angels
Cimber enters a wild game in the bottom of the 7th with one out and the score tied 9-9 and immediately allows a solo homer to Max Stassi. He’s able to retire the next two batters but is in line for the loss. The Blue Jays, however, score two runs in the 8th to take the lead so, once again, Cimber comes away with the win.
Decision 9: June 15 vs Baltimore Orioles
With the game tied at six after nine innings, this game goes to extras and Adam Cimber is brought in for the 10th with a man on second. He gets two first-pitch outs and a strikeout to strand the runner and Vladimir Guerrero Jr walks it off with a hit on the second pitch of the bottom of the 10th. It may not sound like it, but this may have been the win that Cimber earned the most.
Decision 10: July 6 @ Oakland A’s
A pitcher’s duel between Jose Berrios and James Kaprielian has the game tied at one through six, so Cimber enters in the 7th to keep the score the same. He retires the side on just nine pitches, and after Bo Bichette hits a solo homer to take the lead in the 8th, Cimber comes back out and retires the side again, this time on 11 pitches. Jordan Romano is able to get the save in the 9th and Cimber gets his first win in a few weeks.
Decision 11: July 10 @ Seattle Mariners
In the midst of the Blue Jays worst stretch of the season, they have a chance to take one in Seattle as they lead 5-4 heading to the bottom of the 7th. Cimber is brought in and immediately allows a leadoff single to Justin Upton, but retires the next three in order to maintain the lead heading to the 8th. He’s brought back out for the next inning to hopefully set up a Jordan Romano save, but after J.P. Crawford reaches on an error to lead off the inning, Eugenio Suarez takes Cimber deep to give the M’s the lead. Cimber would get one more out before being replaced, and the Jays can’t rally in the 9th, leaving him with the loss.
Decision 12: August 3 @ Tampa Bay Rays
To kick off the bottom of the 6th, the Blue Jays and Rays are tied 2-2 and Adam Cimber enters the game. After the leadoff hitter singles and then steals second, Randy Arozarena grounds out, but a David Peralta double scores the runner. After walking the next batter, Cimber is yanked and the score remains the same for the rest of the game, giving him the loss.
Decision 13: August 20 @ New York Yankees
This one is a classic Adam Cimber win. The Blue Jays are down 1-0 through the fourth, but put up four runs in the top of the 5th to take the lead. Starter Mitch White has already thrown 73 pitches and allowed seven hits so Cimber is brought in to pitch the bottom of the 5th. As you may have guessed, Cimber sets down the side in order on 11 pitches, striking out two, and the Jays never relinquish the lead, thus giving Cimber the win.
Decision 14: August 21 @ New York Yankees
This is a tough one. The Blue Jays enter the 7th down one but get the bases loaded with just one out. They only come away with one run, but it’s enough to tie it up, so Cimber is brought in to keep it that way. He allows a leadoff single, and after a sac-bunt gets the runner to second, Andrew Benintendi comes to the plate. To this point, Benintendi had a .604 OPS and a sub-.200 batting average in his 87 plate appearances with the Yankees. Of course, he takes Cimber deep on the second pitch of the at-bat and the Jays fail to rally back. Cimber gets a decision for the second straight day but this time it’s a loss.
Decision 15: August 24 @ Boston Red Sox
With the game tied at two entering to bottom of the 9th, the Jays bring on Cimber to try and send the game to extras. He allows a single to former Blue Jay, Reese McGuire, on the first pitch of the inning, but erases that runner on the next pitch as Jarren Duran ground into a double play. He then retires another former Jay, Rob Refsnyder, sending the game to extras, where George Springer drives in what was the winning run with a double on the first pitch of the inning. Cimber, for the 10th time in 2022, gets the win.
Does all this mean anything? No, it does not. Should we expect Cimber to do this again? No, that would be ridiculous. Are pitcher wins and losses an arbitrary stat? Absolutely. Through sheer dumb luck, Adam Cimber has made a habit of getting his name put prominently on the scorecard. His 15 decisions currently ranks 61st in Major League Baseball, which, admittedly, doesn’t sound too impressive, until you realize that every pitcher above him has at least 20 starts, compared to his zero, and that almost all of them have far more than twice as many innings as Cimber’s 61.
With less than 20 games left in the season, it’s unlikely that Cimber will match Bob Grim and Lindy McDaniel’s 20 decisions, but the fact that it’s even a possibility is crazy. If you take anything away from this, I hope it’s this; as serious as baseball may be for some people and as important as stats can be, every once in a while, there is a stat, that means absolutely nothing, and is just kind of funny.