Rubber-armed Kline developed into one of the game’s most valuable southpaw relievers. Using a sinker-slider combo that induced opposing batters to ground pitches to his infielders, he led the Senior Circuit in appearances in both 1999 and 2000.
Kline began his career as a top starting prospect in the Cleveland Indians’ organization, but was traded to the Montreal Expos on July 31, 1997 for pitcher Jeff Juden. The following season he came into his own as a lefty specialist and setup man for Expos closer Ugueth Urbina, posting a 2.76 ERA in 78 appearances.
In 1999 Kline won seven games out of the bullpen and led the loop with 82 appearances. On August 17, 1999 he became the 14th pitcher in big league history to strike out the first four batters in an inning. Kline struck out the San Francisco Giants’ Brent Mayne, Shawn Estes, Marvin Benard and Ramon Martinez in the seventh inning, with Estes reaching base on a wild pitch.
Kline auditioned as Montreal’s closer in 2000 after Urbina went on the DL with an elbow injury. Though he notched 14 saves in 18 tries, Kline returned to a setup role late in the season when overwork seemed to tire him. In December 2000 the Expos traded him to St. Louis along with right-hander Dustin Hermanson in exchange for third baseman Fernando Tatis and right-hander Britt Reames