Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Once again the world of the closer gets a closer inspection on Tuesday so without delay let's tackle all the latest news and notes from the ninth inning.

-By now it really is old news that the Boston Red Sox finally were forced to pull the plug on what was looking at once like a nice comeback story for closer Andrew Bailey.  After coming over in the 2011 offseason in a swap for outfielder Josh Reddick and the Oakland A's, Bailey hardly pitched in 2012 due to yet more injuries which were the main issue holding back what at one time was looking like a stellar career in the making.  In fact  no one could argue about Bailey's impact on the rare times he was healthy as he quickly proved himself to be a very dependable closer in a job full of chaos.  Thus when Joel Hanrahan hit the skids early in 2013 and than ultimately went out for the year with Tommy John surgery, the Red Sox were happy to put Bailey back in the ninth inning in order to start getting some return on the Reddick deal.  And just like in the past, Bailey performed well on the mound, posting a stellar 1.46 April ERA which was followed by a nice 3.00 mark in May.  However June brought a whole host of problems as Bailey almost overnight became hittable to the tune of a gross 9.82 ERA with a string of blown saves thrown in.  After delaying as long as they could in order to not have to make yet another change in the ninth inning, manager John Farrell eventually was forced to make the move to veteran Koji Uehara in order to see if he could lend some assistance there.  While the initial assumption was that the younger and promising Junichi Tazawa would get the nod, Farrell seemed to trust Uehara more and no one could argue with his terrific 2013 stats to that point with a tiny 2.10 ERA and crazy good 42 K's in only 30 innings.  This on the heels of another great 2012 season when Uehara posted a 1.75 ERA and 43 K's in 36 innings.  Clearly the veteran knows how to miss bats which is the main requirement for the role of closer and his steady hand no doubt should make him a good to possibly very good stopper the rest of the way.  Those who nabbed Uehara will likely get a nice return on their waiver wire pickup, while those who owned Bailey just have to suck it up and cut him loose.  That's the business of the closer these days.

-So the whole Jose Valverde reclamation project lasted all of one month as he typically melted down to the point of being useless.  Valverde was designated for assignment last week as he clearly has lost his stuff after a nice start that lent some optimism that he could be solid in the ninth inning again.  Thus manager Jim Leyland turned back to Joaquin Benoit who never should have lost the closer role in the first place after Valverde was signed.  Benoit has pitched to a terrific 2.01 ERA with 37 K's in 31.1 innings as he no doubt has been the best pitcher from the Tiger bullpen all season.  All is right with the closer world in Detroit however now that Benoit is back where he should be. 

-Kudos to Jim Johnson and Fernando Rodney who successfully got their seasons backs on track after looking like they would lose their closer roles in spectacular fashion due to a string of blown saves late in May.  The two veterans figured things out and are once again back in the good graces of their owners.  Another example of how guys with track records such as these two will no doubt get a longer leash than most.  And sometimes it does work out.

That's all for now.  As always let us hear what you think.

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