There is quite a bit of closer controversy going on around baseball these days.  Let’s take a look at a few of the most notable situations (all stats are through Friday unless otherwise noted):


Baltimore Orioles

Alfredo Simon has allowed at least one ER in four of his last six outings.  While he may technically still be the closer, it’s only a matter of time before Mike Gonzalez reclaims the role.  He’s allowed just two ER over 10.0 IP since returning from the DL and was given a big contract to close games.  The switch appears to be inevitable.


Boston Red Sox

While Jonathan Papelbon had an epic collapse on Thursday against the Blue Jays (three ER over 0.1 IP), he had been pitching well prior to that.  Don’t look for Daniel Bard to take over any time soon.


Chicago White Sox

Bobby Jenks, whose job is routinely in question, has been out with back problems.  With a save opportunity producing itself over the weekend, it was J.J. Putz who got the call, though he imploded.  Matt Thornton could get the next look, if Jenks is unavailable, but Ozzie Guillen continually returns Jenks to the role, seemingly no matter what is going on.  I would expect him to be the man, for the most part, for the rest of the year.


Milwaukee Brewers

John Axford got the save in his last outing, but he had allowed runs in his previous three times out.  He’s now sharing closing duties with Trevor Hoffman, certainly not what owners who got him cheap wanted to hear.  With the Brewers out of the NL Central race, look for them to try to get Hoffman to 600 career saves by the end of the year.



Los Angeles Dodgers

As mentioned in Saturday’s Around the Majors, Jonathan Broxton has been pulled from the closer’s role, at least temporarily.  This is likely to be only a week or two situation, because he is clearly the best option they have despite his recent struggles.  Look for him to pitch in the seventh or eighth a few times, before being slotted right back into the end of the games. 

The more curious decision by Joe Torre is that Hong-Chih Kuo will fill in as the temporary closer (though Kuo was impressive in his first opportunity over the weekend).  What was the point of acquiring Octavio Dotel at the trade deadline (and George Sherrill last season), if he wasn’t going to be the one to step into the end of games if Broxton had problems?  This certainly makes the bounty they parted with to get him seem all the more surprising.


Oakland Athletics

Andrew Bailey continues to miss time on the DL, but he appears to be moving closer to a return.  According to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (click here for the article), he is expected to throw off a mound on Sunday.  Michael Wuertz’s days as the A’s closer appear to be numbered, so utilize him for saves while you can.


Pittsburgh Pirates

Joel Hanrahan had some struggles last week (five ER over 1.2 innings) and there were questions about whether Evan Meek would overtake him for ninth inning duties. 

Then, on Friday, with a 1-0 lead the Pirates handed the ball off to Meek and he suffered a complete meltdown.  He got just one out, allowing four runs on five hits and a walk.  As it is, it appeared that Hanrahan would once again be given the closer opportunity, but with Meek’s meltdown, it would appear that his job may be safe for the time being.  He’s a low-end option, but one that is worth using if you are in need of some saves.


Additional Note

News has broken today that the Mets’ Francisco Rodriguez will likely miss the rest of the season due to a thumb injury.  Look for Hisanori Takahashi to likely get the first crack at closing, though Bobby Parnell could also get a look.  There’s also the chance of the dreaded “closer by committee.”

What are your thoughts on these situations and any others from around the league?


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