Known for his mental toughness and ability to start or relieve, Mulholland pitched effectively in both roles throughout most of his career. His flexibility made him attractive to playoff contenders and he was traded four times during the season as a result.
Called up by the San Francisco Giants in mid-1988 after a spate of injuries struck their rotation, Mulholland went 2-1 before breaking his arm and missing the last two months of the season. It was feared he might never pitch again, but he came back in 1989 and was one of the players sent to the Philadelphia Phillies in return for Steve Bedrosian.
Mulholland pitched effectively as a starter for the Phillies. He tossed a no-hitter against the Giants on August 15, 1990, and led the National League in complete games in 1992 with 12. He made the All-Star Team in 1993, his final year with the Phillies, when he posted a 3.25 ERA and a 12-9 record.
Trying to get younger, the Phillies shipped Mulholland on February 9, 1994 to the New York Yankees in exchange for Bobby Munoz and Kevin Jordan. Unfortunately, the pressure of pitching in New York seemed to rattle Mulholland. He went just 6-7 with an abysmal ERA of 6.49 in what was his worst season. The Yankees allowed him to depart as a free agent and he returned to the Giants, signing with them on April 8, 1995.
Mulholland wasn’t much better in ’95, posting a 5-13 record with a 5.80 ERA in 29 games, 24 of them starts. Again, he was allowed to leave via free agency, and this time he re-signed with the Phillies. He pitched slightly better in 1996, and was dealt on July 31, 1996 to the Seattle Mariners for middle infield prospect Desi Relaford. He remained in Seattle for just two months, however, signing with the Chicago Cubs on December 9, 1996.
The following season was more of the same for Mulholland. He pitched adequately with the Cubs and was claimed on waivers by the Giants (again) on August 8, 1996. He pitched almost strictly out of the bullpen for them, and while his strikeout-to-walk ratio was good at 25-6, his ERA was an unimpressive 5.16.
Mulholland returned to the Cubs for the 1998 and part of the ’99 season, before being shipped to the Atlanta Braves with Jose Hernandez for prospects Ruben Quevedo and Micah Bowie on July 31, 1999. He spent the better parts of two seasons with the Braves in a swing role before signing with the Pirates prior to the 2001 campaign.
Always known for his control, Mulholland lacked dominant stuff and was never much of a strikeout pitcher. However, his strikeout-to-walk ratio was consistently superb, due to his refusal to give in to hitters. He walked more than fifty batters in a season just once in his career, in 1997. He also possessed arguably the best pickoff move in baseball. He was almost impossible to run against and by the middle of his career, few runners dared even try.