When the Milwaukee Brewers held Bob Wickman All-Star Poster Day on July 29, 2000, Wickman himself was in Cleveland, pitching for the Indians. He had been traded, along with Steve Woodard and Jason Bere, in a cost-cutting move by the Brewers the night before, so he sent his mother and grandmother in his place.
In his first appearance with the Indians Wickman became the 30th of 32 pitchers the Tribe had used that year, setting a new major-league record. Thrown into a pennant race for the first time, the hard throwing sinkerballer became the Indians’ closer, sometimes pitching three or four nights in a row. The fatigue took its toll, and he lost eight times, the second year in a row he led the American League in relief losses. But he also managed 14 saves in 26 appearances, providing the Indians the bullpen help they needed to win the wild card.
Halfway through the 2001 season Wickman appeared to have lost his closer job when the Tribe brought controversial fireballer John Rocker over from the Atlanta Braves. Relegated to a setup role, Wickman bided his time, continuing to pitch effectively. When control problems rendered Rocker ineffective, Wickman reprised his role as the Indians’ stopper.
Wickman credited the impressive sinking action of his pitches to a childhood accident. He caught his finger in a fan and sliced off its tip.