Capital “C” Closer Woes
|Image courtesy of Daylife via Reuters Pictures|
On paper, the Blue Jays appeared to have one of the best bullpens in the American Leauge going into the 2012 season. Despite Alex Anthopoulos’ attempts to solidify the back end of the bullpen, sometimes the best laid plans go awry.
So much for the term “proven closer”; Francisco Cordero ranks second in saves among active Major League closers with 329, and yet he’s blown his last three save opportunities. And he can’t seem to pitch a clean inning; a very crucial quality in any shutdown closer.
Had this one save been an isolated incident, I probably
would’ve given Francisco Cordero the benefit of the doubt. A one run
cushion isn’t all that much to work with, but the sequence of events
that happened in the bottom of the ninth was more than just your
ordinary blown save.
Cap it all off with a grand slam off the bat of Brandon Inge, who was
let go by the Detroit Tigers less than two weeks ago, and that just
added insult to injury.
I recall at the beginning of the season that some folks were calling for Sergio Santos’ head already and wanted the “proven closer” in Francisco Cordero to usurp him … and this was after just the Home Opener. Due to the injury to Santos, they may have inadvertently gotten their wish.
Francisco Cordero’s loss in velocity has been well documented, but he still managed to be fairly successful over in the National League Central the past six seasons. Perhaps his skill set just does not translate very well to the American League.
I know that John Farrell is merely trying to do some patchwork on the bullpen until Sergio Santos comes off the disabled list, but in the meantime he can’t keep parading Francisco Cordero out there in save situations.
The way the Blue Jays bullpen was constructed, I just
assumed that every reliever would just move up a rung while Sergio Santos
went on the DL. It turns out that it was much more of a domino effect
than anyone could have foreseen, which really has shook up the hierarchy of the Blue Jays bullpen.
Whether it’s Luis Perez, Casey Janssen, or maybe even Jason Frasor, John Farrell needs to shake things up and give the ball to somebody else in the ninth inning. If given enough rope, Cordero would probably straighten things out, but the Blue Jays can’t afford to wait and see how long that takes.
As Jeff Blair suggested on the Fan 590 this morning, I think the closer by committee is the way to go in the interim. If the matchups favour lefties, then go with Darren Oliver. If it favours right-handers, perhaps lean on Jason Frasor to get the final three outs.
The closer position is an extremely volatile title. Just look around the league and see how many closers (including so-called “proven closers”) have lost their job just over a month into the season. It’s a job that comes with a lot of lustre, but is also a lightning rod for criticism.
This applies to the entire league, but I think the best strategy for the Blue Jays right now is to just use the best pitcher in which the situation dictates. The game doesn’t need to culminate with getting the ball to the closer; it should culminate with allowing the best pitcher for that situation to get the final three outs.
Hell, if it worked for the Tampa Bay Rays for so many years, I don’t see why it can’t work for the Blue Jays.