One of the top firemen of his day, the left-handed Brewer possessed one of the best screwballs in the game. He used this devastating pitch to roll over batters in the National League throughout the late 1960s and early 1970s. Jim, a member of the 1973 NL All-Star team, used his wicked screwball to post some rather impressive numbers over his career. His WHIP was often of the amazing variety as he surrendered few hits per inning and kept his walk total low.
Originally brought up by the Cubs in 1960, Chicago toyed with Brewer as a starter but he struggled in the rotation. He showed remarkable consistency, albeit of the negative variety, when he posted back-to-back seasons with an ERA of 5.82. When his mark shot up over 9.00 in 1962, the Cubs scrapped grooming Jim as a starter. After a modest season in ’63 Jim was traded to the Dodgers where his career took off. Jim trimmed his ERA down to 3.00 his first year in Los Angeles but he was essentially a seldom used firemen until 1967.
Employed as a spot starter/long reliever by the 1967 Dodgesr, Jim enjoyed his breakout season. He had an exceptional 1.083 WHIP as he limited the opposition to just 78 hits in over 100 innings of work. The Dodgers liked Jim’s fireman work so much that they scrapped the spot starter role and made him their go-to relief ace. He posted a .727 winning percentage in ’68 and averaged close to a strikeout per inning. He achieved that feat in 1969 when he fanned 92 batters in 88 innings. Jim also finished fourth in the National League in the saves department. The following year he set a career high in saves while also striking out over a batter per inning.
The first few years of the 1970s would be just as fruitful. Brewer perfected his game at the start of the decade. In 1971 he trimmed his ERA down to 1.88 and posted an exceptional 0.971 WHIP. But these figures would stack up quite poorly to the numbers he posted in 1972. That season Jim posted personal bests in both ERA (1.26) and WHIP (0.843) as one of the best firemen in the business. As unhittable as they come, Brewer surrendered just 41 hits in 78 innings, good for an amazing 4.7 hits allowed over nine innings. Despite these two back-to-back monster seasons, Jim didn’t make his All-Star debut until 1973, when his numbers weren’t as flattering.
Brewer finished third in saves in 1973 while his ERA swelled to 3.01. In ’74 Jim suffered a back injury and lost his closer’s role to Everyday Mike Marshall. The Dodgers made their third World Series during Jim’s run with the team that fall and he was worked in one game–his final Fall Classic appearance. He struck out the only batter he faced. After a rough start to the ’75 season Jim was traded to the Angels where he would end his career a year later. He coached ball at the collegiate level after his playing days but his life was cut short just before his 50th birthday when he was killed in a traffic accident.
W 69/L 65/PCT .515/ERA 3.07/G 584/SV 132/IP 1,040/H 898/BB 360/SO 810