Vero Beach, FL (Sports Network) - Los Angeles Dodgers closer Eric Gagne, the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner, lost his arbitration case with the team and will be paid $5 million for the upcoming season.
Gagne, whose arbitration case was heard on Wednesday, requested an $8 million salary, while the Dodgers offered $5 million. Gagne was paid $550,000 last season when he converted all 55 of his save opportunities. Gagne has a record streak of 63 successful conversions, dating back to August 28, 2002. His 55 saves tied the National League single-season mark with John Smoltz (2002).
An incredibly powerful righthander from Montreal, Gagne literally blew away the competition last season. He appeared in 77 games and had an ERA of 1.20, while compiling a 2-3 record. He gave up just 12 runs -- 11 earned -- and yielded only two homers all season.
Amazingly, Gagne allowed only 37 hits and walked just 20 batters, while striking out 137 over his 82 1/3 innings. More astounding was that in Gagne's 55 save situations last season, he surrendered only two runs in 57 innings for a 0.32 ERA, while giving up just 21 hits, 10 walks and striking out 98.
Gagne had a few great stretches during the season and finished 2003 with a stellar run. He pitched 21 consecutive scoreless innings over 19 outings from July 4 to August 17. In those 19 appearances, he collected 12 saves and allowed just four hits and five walks with 34 strikeouts. Gagne did not allow a hit in 10 straight appearances from July 27 to August 17, a stretch of 12 1/3 innings. He also retired 25 straight batters during part of that span. In his final 16 appearances, Gagne recorded 14 saves while throwing 18 1/3 scoreless innings.
The 28-year-old Gagne, who has 107 saves over the last two seasons, is the first pitcher with more than 50 saves in two different campaigns. Gagne's only blemish in 2003 came in a game that did not count as he allowed a two-run homer to Texas' Hank Blalock that won the All-Star Game for the American League. That was the only save Gagne blew all year.
It's been an incredible transformation for Gagne, who began his career as a starting pitcher before being moved to the bullpen just before the 2002 season. Before that, he started 48 games over three years.