clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Braves Rewind: Whatever happened to…Mark Wohlers?

New, comments

Let's take a look at Braves from years past.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Before Joel Zumaya or Aroldis Chapman, there was Mark Wohlers.

Among those of us who were young'uns in the '90s, Wohlers was one of the first pitchers we saw who could hit triple digits and do it consistently. Seeing a pitcher throw a ball that fast filled young fans such as myself with awe.

The Braves drafted Wohlers in 1988 and he debuted in 1991, taking part in a no-hitter that September, but not until 1995 did he make a significant impact. His first save of the year came June 5 against the Cubs and he just took off after that. He struck out 23 batters in 13.2 innings in July (with just one walk), and didn't allow a single run in 13 games in August. He finished the year with 90 strikeouts in 64.2 innings, and was on the mound when the Braves clinched their World Series in Game 6.

1996 was a career year for Wohlers with 39 saves, 100 strikeouts, and an All-Star selection. He didn't have such a good time in the World Series that year, however (coughcoughjimleyritzcoughcough).

Wohlers turned in another 30-save campaign with 33 in 1997, but then in 1998 something happened: he suddenly lost the ability to throw strikes. He tried to right the ship in the minors, but nothing worked; even minor-league hitters were lighting him up.

The last straw came in 1999 when after issuing six walks in two games, Wohlers was traded to the Reds where he was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. His symptoms were an example of Steve Blass Syndrome, named for the Pirates pitcher from the '70s who experienced similar troubles. Wohlers also had Tommy John surgery during that time and again in 2003 with Cleveland. Instead of returning to action, however, he opted to walk away, never officially announcing his retirement.

Wohlers now owns a real estate business in the upper Atlanta area. In 1997, he appeared in an SNL skit along with fellow Braves Pedro Borbon and Gerald Williams.