Remlinger spent ten years of his life shuttling between minor-league outposts and major-league cities before finally sticking with the Cincinnati Reds in 1997. The key to his sudden success: the changeup. Remlinger and fellow Reds reliever Stan Belinda were warming up next to each other during the 1996 season when the Dartmouth graduate noticed Belinda practicing his sidearm change. Remlinger remembered the pitch from high school and added into his repertoire of low-90s fastballs and sliders. The effect was immediate. in 1997, he made a career-high 57 appearances out of the bullpen and ended the season topping the staff in strikeouts.
The performance won Remlinger a spot in the rotation in 1998, but he struggled, pitching 164 innings with an 8-15 record and an 4.87 ERA. He was shipped to Atlanta after the season in a five-player swap that also brought Bret Boone to the Braves for Denny Neagle, Michael Tucker, and Rob Bell.
Remlinger was tabbed as the Bravos’ southpaw setup man, and thrived in his new role, posting acareer-best 2.37 ERA. In three years with Atlanta he pitched in at least 70 games each year and was among the league-leaders in holds. “Mike Remlinger has been one of the MVPs of our team,” manager Bobby Cox told the press in 2000. “Without him, [John] Rocker wouldn’t have had all the save opportunities.”