Is it Time for a Change in the Closer? To Whom?

So, since we have already let the team’s management know that the Rockies need to replace either or both of Juan Nicasio and Franklin Morales. Frankie was great on Tuesday night and could easily have tossed 6 innings of shut-out ball, but even so, a quality-start and looked great throwing 6 innings in only 92 pitches. Still waiting on Nicasio…will give Dan O’Dowd and Walt time on that.

But with Hawk’s outings for the month of May:

May 3 – Mets at home – 9th inning – on 3 days rest – .2 innings – 1 ER, 1R, 3Hits, 1BB, 0K – 6 batters – 18 pitches – Rox won game on walk-off homer by Culberson to give Hawking his first win in the 11-10 game.

May 7 – at Texas – 9th inning – on 3 days rest – .1 innings  – 2 batters faced, 1 hit allowed (Boone Logan got first 2 out) – Rockies won the game 9-2.

May 14 – at K.C. – 8th inning (last) – on 6 days rest – 1 inning – 4 batters faced, 1 hit allowed 10 pitches required  – Rox lost the game 3-2.

May 16 – at home vs SD Padres – 9th inning – on 1 day rest – 1 inning – 3 hits, 1 earned run, 1 strikeout, 6 batters faced, 23 pitches required – Rockies won the game 3-1, Hawkins gets a save but the team loses its shutout and tying runner came to plate.

May 18 – at home vs SD Padres – 9th inning – on 1 day rest – 1 inning – 2 hits, 2 earned runs, 1 home run, total of 5 batters and 15 pitches, home run tied the game at 6-6. Rockies win 8-6 on Justin Morneau’s walk-off homer.

I love Hawkins. Great guy, good to have in the pen. And all relievers have bad game and bad runs. But at 41 you have the most important role in the pen. Is there anything we have seen in May that says, “You are the guy I know is going to get 3 outs and celebrate the win.” Yes, he is now 2-0 and has a 1 save in the month, but only 2 scoreless outings covering 1.1 innings and even those two outings had hits allowed.  You cannot go forward as a serious division competitor with that kind of performance in the pen. If he was 31 and not the closer we would be saying, “Wow, give him the 6th for a while?” But he is paid to close and its not happening. And that cannot continue.

 

But who gets the job?

We need to eliminate a few right off.

Tommy Kahnle has closer stuff, but 3 months into his big league career and a history in the minors of walks…sorry, he is more valuable as a multi-inning arm and also someone you can bring in to try and get a big K in an inning.

Matt Belisle is looking more and more like the Matty B of old. But that Matt didn’t close either. Too many hits allowed because he gets ground-ball outs. While he is throwing harder, he is a 7th or 8th inning option on every other night.

So now the options.

Zero:

Adam Ottovino is a great arm and piece in the pen. He has never closed before but that slider is an out pitch. The fastball though while 93 is a bit too straight. He could close if you did the “Closer by Committee”  but not what you want yet closing. Staying as the 7th or 8th makes sense. But Romo has been a great closer the last year throwing a nasty slider. Here is his stats:

Last two weeks: 4 games, 12 Plate appearances: BA allowed .083 OBP .083 SLUG .083 and OPS .167! Batting average on balls in play – .167!  Season stats: 1.47 ERA and .764 WHIP in 18.1 IP before Tuesday.

 Rex (Good Rex)

Rex Brothers has closed for this team and been good in the role. We know this team wants him to be the closer someday. But they brought in Hawkins for a reason. And the Rex of this season has not had the velocity on most night that made his slider even more nasty. 87 and hard break is much harder to not swing at when it was proceeded by 94-95 fastball. This year it has been more 90-92. Even worse 13 walks in 19 innings. But 19 saves last year! We joke bad Rex and good Rex but he is tough to face most night for hitters, even when wild.

Last two weeks: 4 games, 17 Plate appearances: BA allowed .077 OBP .250 SLUG .077 and OPS .327! Batting average on balls in play – .100! Season stats 2.84 ERA and 1.316 WHIP in 19 IP before Tuesday.

 

Big $ Boone

Boone Logan: Boone was a one-out only guy for a good period of his time in New York, but the Rox believed he could get out righties and lefties, and go for a whole inning.  They gave him a lot of money, because he is going to be the lefty when Rex eventually becomes the closer. But has he been worth it? He has been okay? I put him here only because when you give that much money you should be considered for closing. But he has not been good enough! 1-1, 3.65 ERA in 12.1 innings in 15 games those are not closer numbers.

Last two weeks: 3 games, 9 Plate appearances: BA allowed .333 OBP .375 SLUG 1.000 OPS 1.375!Batting avg on balls in play – .200! Season stats 3.65 ERA and WHIP of 1.216 in 12.1 IP before Tuesday.

 

Masset the MASH Man

There is a huge Nick Masset cult on Rowwalkoff.com, and I am included. But we need to be real, this guy hadn’t thrown a game in 2 years before this year! Masset was never a closer before the shoulder and thoracic surgery. But his stuff is plenty nasty I think we can all agree. But do you trust the 9th to a guy who has thrown 6 games in 3 years? That 5 pitch inning on Sunday vs the Padres gives an image of what he could do in high leverage situations.

 

Last two weeks: 5 games, 18 Plate appearances: BA allowed .125 OBP .222 SLUG .188 OPS .410!  Batting average on balls in play – .167! Season stats 1.50 ERA and WHIP of  1.167 in 6IP before Tuesday.

 

Is there a good choice?

So suddenly as much as I think it is clear that Hawk need to give the roll up until he can get things worked out (I do believe he can be effective as a closer if the ball gets down and the ball starts moving better) the big question is who? So your vote:

 

1)      Zero

2)     Rex (Good Rex)

3)      Big $ Boone

4)     Masset the MASH man?

5)      Trade?

6)      Closer by Committee?

7)      An arm in the minors?

8)     Whatever “the Book” says because that dang book Walt Weiss got from LaRussa and Cox is never wrong.

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Doctor_Christopher
Doctor_Christopher
6 years ago

And let me put 2 other names right now if they can be spared in their current roles (per my other post/letter to DOD and WW) – Morales, who has closed and who in 2011 was thought by many to be best potential closer in NL – didn’t happen. Nicasio is 1 IP could be nasty though I like him starting in AAA to stay strong. So Morales is my vote as possible man.

Doc
Doc
6 years ago

Sorry Doctor_C, but Frankie Kerosene would be my last choice. I’d give Masset a shot —

Cisco Kid
Cisco Kid
6 years ago

Unrelated subject here, but news out of Dodgers AAA team is that former Rox catcher and all-time Ag favorite Miguel Olivo bit off the ear of a teammate during a clubhouse altercation. You are free to insert your Tyson jokes below.

sdcarp
sdcarp
6 years ago
Reply to  Cisco Kid

George Frasor reported that on the broadcast last night and was trying (somewhat unsuccessfully) to not laugh. He said he “Mike Tyson’d him.”

sdcarp
sdcarp
6 years ago

You guys know I’ve been saying all along this is the weakness we’ll need to address if we’re in playoff contention near the trade deadline. That being said……the Closer situations around baseball are generally bad. Even shutdown guys like Trevor Rosenthal haven’t been shutdown guys so far this season. Even Kimbrel has struggled at times and is probably hurt. So we’re no worse off than anyone else at the moment. I like Danny Farquhar in Seattle. Closed very successfully for… Read more »

rockymountainhigh
Admin
rockymountainhigh
6 years ago

I vote closer by committee similar to the three headed monster Cincy had in the 70s led by Rob Dibble and friends. In our case, that would be five guys Boone, Zero, Massett, Rex, and Hawk. Two lefties and three righties to match up in 9th. Move Zero to 8th inning if one run game or tied game to keep our opponent right there to give us a chance to rally. Let Belisle and Kahnle do the 5th thru 7th.… Read more »

Julian
Julian
6 years ago

I vote for closer by committee. Particularly with the opportunity to mix and match righties and lefties.

sdcarp
sdcarp
6 years ago
Reply to  Julian

Yep…..the arms are here now if mixed and matched correctly.

I’ve always thought that if a team truly committed to Closer by Committee (and the committee was more than 2) – it would make the opposing Manager’s strategy really difficult.

egossage
egossage
6 years ago

I think Nicasio would be a tremendous closer.

Pooter
Pooter
6 years ago

I wasn’t a fan of it in the offseason but I like Hawk and still like him despite his struggles. He is too mentally tough not to bounce back from this current slump in performance.

Bill
Bill
6 years ago

I agree with Pooter about Hawkins toughness. It’s his best quality and he isn’t scared out there. Unfortunately I don’t think he has the talent to close. But I’m not sure if we have the “guy” we need. Rex needs better control. You can’t have a closer who can’t throw strikes. Personally I think he needs to go down to the Springs or Tulsa until he can regain his control and his confidence. He may say he’s confident but once… Read more »

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