Dubbed Senor Smoke for his lively fastball, the portly veteran of 12 seasons in Mexico
was one of the AL's top relievers for several years with Detroit, all after the age
of thirty. Lopez had pitched professionally in his native Mexico for nine years before
joining the Royals at the tail end of 1974 but returned to his longtime team, the
Mexico City Reds, the following season, and in 1977 was the Mexican League
a 19-8, 2.01 record. The Cardinals purchased his contract that fall and traded him
to Detroit a year later, where Lopez quickly became the Tigers' bullpen stopper.
He saved 21 games in 1979 and 21 more in 1980 while leading the AL with 13 relief
wins. He recorded only six saves in 1981-82 but rebounded with 18 in 1983, then added
10 wins and 14 saves in 1984 working primarily as a set-up man for Cy Young Award
winner and MVP Willie Hernandez
. Lopez won the deciding fifth game of the WS against
the Padres with two innings of relief, then suffered an off-year in 1985 and signed
with the Astros as a free agent. He pitched exclusively in relief for Houston in
1986-87, saving eight games.