John Hiller – A closer in long or middle relief? As an “old school” closer, John Hiller finished games but often worked multiple innings to do so. As one of the best relief pitchers in Tigers history and the ability to work more than one inning, Hiller fills in perfectly here.
Hiller’s career spanned from 1965-1980, all with the Tigers, but was interrupted in 1971 because of a heart attack. He not only came back but came back better than he was before. His 38 saves in 1973 stood as the Major League record until 1983 and a Tigers franchise record until 2000 when Todd Jones saved 42. All told, Hiller appeared in 545 games, throwing 1,242 innings with a 2.83 ERA and 1,036 strikeouts.
Aurelio Lopez – Like John Hiller, Aurelio Lopez was a dependable presence at the back-end of the Tigers bullpen as a closer and setup man but was called upon to work more than one inning on many occasion.
The man known as “Señor Smoke” worked 713 innings in 355 appearances over the course of seven seasons with the Tigers, posting an ERA of 3.41. But the greatest testament to Lopez may have come from Sparky Anderson who said the following during the 1984 playoffs: “I’ve had him for five years and believe me, there’s nothing like him. He’s got heart and there is none better. He’s one of the all-time hearts.”