LaTroy Hawkins may be 41 years old, but the Colorado Rockies’ closer doesn’t have any plans to retire soon, reports Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post.
Despite being in his 19th MLB season, nearly two decades removed from his big league debut on April 29, 1995, Hawkins doesn’t see the end of the line yet. Currently having a resurgent season as the stopper at the end of Colorado’s bullpen, he seems ready to pitch as long as he can.
“If I stay healthy, I can pitch forever,” Hawkins said last week, flashing his 100-watt smile. “That’s my thought process. I have been blessed with a right arm that has definitely defeated all of the odds.”
More important than that 100-watt smile is Hawkins’ 95 mile per hour fastball. Despite his advanced age, FanGraphs’ Pitch F/X data says Hawkins’ fastball averages 92.9 miles per hour, the hardest he’s thrown the pitch in years. That may seem difficult to believe, especially since he doesn’t miss many bats any more, but Hawkins remains a legit power pitcher.
“The closer’s role is not for everybody,” manager Walt Weiss said. “It takes more than pure stuff to be successful. It helps that La Troy is still running his fastball up there in the mid-90s. But I think what’s even more important is how he handles situations and how cool he stays. I’ve been very impressed.”
Indeed, Hawkins’ success this season is quite impressive. Over 28 appearances, he’s posted a 2.77 ERA with 11 strikeouts and six walks in 26 innings. In save situations, he’s successfully converted 14-of-15 opportunities, showing a degree of comfort in the role that seems hard to believe for a pitcher who failed to handle closing earlier in his career.
But this is where Hawkins is, and given how well he’s pitching, it’s easy to see why he’s putting off retirement. If he’s 41 years old, touching 95 and posting a sub-3.00 ERA — which he is — then why put the ball down?
The Rockies signed Hawkins to a one-year, $2.5 million back in Nov. 2013. At this point, he could be angling for a multi-year deal this winter.