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Kevin Slowey was Framed!

Closer Mentality/Closer Role

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Last night's Yankees-Orioles game got me thinking about the idea of the Closer Mentality and the Closer Role. I absolutely believe in the Closer Mentality. I consider myself a statistically inclined baseball fan. I understand that research shows that closer is just a word. A good reliever makes a good closer and whatnot. However, I don't believe the Closer Mentality is a myth. The idea that some people perform better or worse in specific situations makes perfect sense to me. Human Psychology, blah blah and so forth. I understand the concept of small samples and unfortunately, most failed closers have a small sample. Does that prove that Closer Mentality does not exist? No. But it certainly does not help prove that it does either. Regardless, I believe in it, even if I cannot quantify it. And I do that without regret.

However, the Closer Role is something that I do not believe in. Last night, Jim Johnson was left in to face Raul Ibanez after he pinch hit for Alex Rodriguez. Brian Matusz was available and even pitched later. In fact, he gave up a home run to said Ibanez. Whatever. In a Bizarro World, point proved! Robinson Cano was due up in the 9th regardless of the pinch hitter. Brian Matusz had dominated left-handed batters. Had Cano come up with 2 outs (no Ibanez pinch hit), Johnson would have faced Cano because he has the Closer Role. However, Matusz would have been a better matchup for Cano.

In that same scenario in the 8th inning, Matusz would have relieved someone like Darren O'Day (who might be a reliever just as talented as Johnson) and faced Ibanez and/or Cano. Why did the one inning matter? I guess I don't get it. It makes sense with someone like Mariano Rivera or someone like... well, maybe no one else. Why play the match-ups for 8 innings, then ignore them for the 9th? This isn't an original thought, but what do others think?


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