Jump to content
Twins Daily
  • Create Account

So You Have A Closer Who Cannot Close


Twins Daily Contributor

There may not be any decision more difficult in baseball than determining what to do with a struggling All-Star closer. Their past performance argues that they will continue to be great but their present actions are actively hurting the team. The Twins are in this very situation. How should they act?It should have been all but a given on Sunday, April 11. The Twins had taken a commanding 6-0 lead over the docile Mariners after Byron Buxton annihilated his fifth homer of the season. Matt Shoemaker was dealing, the bats were electric, Max Kepler was doing Hot Girl ****, and the mood was nothing short of a college house party; the kind of which actually could exist before the pandemic. But, well, you all know how this story went. The Mariners slowly clawed back and before anyone could finish their Surly, eight unanswered runs were on the board.

 

There is never a singular culprit when it comes to such an implosion. The offense had suddenly lost any ability to score in the later innings for yet another uncomfortable time. Shoemaker decided that hanging off-speed pitches might be a good idea against major league hitters (friends, it is not) and gave up four runs almost as quickly as I could make my sandwich that afternoon (the sandwich was pretty good). Perhaps his sins would have been more remembered if he was not immediately tossed from the game. I’m sure the umpire forced him to throw such terrible sliders.

 

But no one player was the target of outrage more than Alex Colomé. The closer blew yet another lead by giving up the game-deciding three-run-homer to Kyle Seager. People were furious. Rightfully so, I suppose. The team had paid a not-insignificant amount of money for the righty with the idea that he would be capable of consistently netting late-inning outs; 6 ⅓ innings later and some Twins fans would rather see Kevin Jepsen or Matt Capps on the mound in the ninth inning. In his first few outings as a Twin, Colomé has given up four earned runs with three more unearned runs tacked on top of that total. Considering that those unearned runs came following an error by the man himself, it’s fair to say that Colomé has been personally responsible for an astonishing seven runs over just six-and-a-third innings pitched. Not good.

 

Closers have failed before. Even the great Mariano Rivera blew over 40 regular season games over the course of his career. The act of bungling the end of the game is baked into the very nature and existence of the reliever role. The problem lies in how a team deals with someone in the middle of one of these cold streaks. The team must accept that the player is not up to his normal standards while still sending him out to play in his original role. Why? Because the only way for a struggling reliever to get out of one these funks is to unquestionably prove that he is still capable of performing at the most stressful level. Getting outs in the sixth inning of a blowout does not help. Nailing down a close game in the ninth does.

 

There is more to the issue than just this, however. What if the reliever continues to fail? No team would keep sending out a struggling arm long after he has conclusively shown a lack of closing ability. That would be, quite literally, the definition of insanity. This is especially true on a team like the Twins that already possesses other relievers who are capable of filling the role of closer.

 

There is no solid answer to this problem. Pitching is too abstract to set performance benchmarks one way or the other. Colomé is well on his way to losing his role but such a move should not be made anytime soon. His position as a late inning arm should be relinquished in favor of innings going towards a tandem of Taylor Rogers and Hansel Robles only if he continues to fail over a longer sample. If it has been adequately determined that Colomé can no longer net crucial late-inning outs, his role should look more like that of Cody Stashak-a useful bridge-type of arm who only pitches late in the game when all other options have been exhausted.

 

I do think, knowing how the Twins have reacted to previous relievers such as Fernando Rodney and Blake Parker, that it will be a while until this happens. The team showed a great deal of patience with both arms as they faced similar trials as Colomé. That places any timeline regarding a change in use for the all-star in late May or June with any earlier movement coming only when his struggles go nuclear. Some may think that we are already at that place but that simply is not true. Just four relievers have thrown 10 or more innings. The sample is entirely too small.

 

Colomé did somewhat get back on the horse the other day. He punched out a pair of batters in a scoreless inning of work but a ringing double off the bat of Christian Arroyo showed that he still had work to do. Patience will be the key word for the Twins. If they opt to react quickly and move Colomé out of a late-inning role, they will only be limiting the potential relief options they have for such an occasion. Such a show of no-confidence would also only disenfranchise the reliever who otherwise holds a strong track record of performance.

 

Letting Colomé work through his struggles, as brutal as they may be, could potentially allow him to figure it out again and aid the team in the future as they try to win yet another division title. At the end of the day, the team needs to find out without any doubt whether or not Alex Colomé can continue to be an elite high-leverage arm and that will only come with sticking by his side through the mess.

MORE FROM TWINS DAILY

— Latest Twins coverage from our writers

— Recent Twins discussion in our forums

— Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email

 

Click here to view the article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Recommended Posts

First of all, we shouldn’t care about his past performance. We paid for his current and future performance, right? Relievers are the kings of SSS, and unless there are studies out there saying relievers show their true colors for the season once they hit 20 innings, we should make faster decisions with him and other relievers.

 

There’s no denying he’s contributed heavily to 3 losses so far. Keeping him in the same role is risking losing more games and making the sprint more difficult in September.

 

For now I would demote him to mid leverage opportunities and let someone else try to close out the game. If he continues to struggle in a mid leverage role, a DFA might have to come in play.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He’s been an idiot. Simple as that. Both with his fielding and his pitching. He repeatedly throws slow cutters down the middle (good idea—not) and watches them get hit. He, or Wes, knows that they don’t work and they continue to do it. He also repeatedly throws his fastball down the middle and he gets hit. It doesn’t work. The fastball to the top right corner does, has, and should be done.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is why you don’t sign crap players from the bargain bin. When you need bullpen help, go get good pitchers.

 

There’s a reason why nobody else wanted him on a one year contract for peanuts.

 

I mean, Captain Obvious, right? The vast majority of people here were talking about this bullpen as a potential disaster for this club.

 

That should tell everyone one thing: They’re just not that serious about winning. We’ve been sold this current window for almost a decade. When they broke out a little early (2017?), all you heard was “be patient.” Well, what are we waiting for now?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Reminds me of Kevin Jepsen. Had a strong 2015, got the closer role in 2016 and had an appalling April, blowing 3 saves plus another 2 losses. Despite this, he kept his job as closer until early July, finishing with 7 saves, 5 losses, and 4 blown saves (only one was a loss). Kintzler was plugged into the role and was light years better.

 

Let’s hope Colome isn’t heading down that path.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rocco has repeatedly said he has no set closer. So why won't he try a different option?

His usage of Colome indicates he is Rocco's closer. He is terrible at holding runners close to first base. I don't think he has thrown over there yet this year and has at least 2 runners steal off him.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

There’s a reason why nobody else wanted him on a one year contract for peanuts.

 

What is the reason? Can you prove that he's bad? It seems like you judge relievers by their ERA alone and he had a 0.67 ERA last year, with a ~2.50 ERA the two years before that.

 

It's worth noting that how much someone is paid does not define their quality as a player. They grabbed Matt Wisler last year and he was really good; I would say it was a "worthy investment.” Just because players don’t cost much doesn’t mean that they’re not good. Likewise, just because players are expensive don’t mean they’re that good. An example? Albert Pujols. And by your apparent definition, there were only like 4 or 5 “good pitchers” on the FA market. And with, IDK, at least 10 teams looking for bullpen help, you’d be lucky to get even one.

 

You can't just say "There's a reason." You actually need to prove the reason. The world is full of corrupt logic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I believe there is a vast difference between excuses and reasons. Has time, even in his early 30's and never a true flamethrower, and the league just caught up with Colome? Well then, you can make all the excuses you want but reality is what it is.

 

Now, is just fine but struggling with mechanics? Was not 100% during ST and we don't know it and he's still finding himself? Then you might have a reason for his poor performance.

 

And this could apply to more than Colome. The bite is, for a proven performer, whether you slide him temporarily to a low leverage situation or not, you are forced to stick with him for a while longer to see if he "finds" himself...or not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

He should never have been brought in in the Seattle game. The closer they had in '86 before they got Reardon (Ron Something) was terrible, but I don't remember him being as frightening as Colome'. I don't agree they should let him work out the kinks as the closer.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

He should never have been brought in in the Seattle game. The closer they had in '86 before they got Reardon (Ron Something) was terrible, but I don't remember him being as frightening as Colome'. I don't agree they should let him work out the kinks as the closer.

Ron Davis was even more frightening.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

He should never have been brought in in the Seattle game. The closer they had in '86 before they got Reardon (Ron Something) was terrible, but I don't remember him being as frightening as Colome'. I don't agree they should let him work out the kinks as the closer.

 

Ron Davis had 14 blown saves and 11 losses in 1984, including two blown saves in the last week of the season, and the Twins finished 3 games short of the division crown. Granted, they were not likely to get past Detroit in the playoffs.

 

Billy Gardner was the manager in '84, and he did not know how to use his bullpen. Davis was often called up to close the game in the 8th, even when he was not playing well. '84 isn't 100% on Davis, but 50% is bad enough.

Davis put up worse numbers in 1986, though he was not "the closer" for long. He had a high profile meltdown very early in the season during a television interview, where he fought back tears while saying he had never pitched worse in his life, and from then on he did not appear in high-leverage situations. By the time Tom Kelly took over the team near the end of '86, Davis had been traded. 

 

Davis was under a lot of pressure as he was always expected by the media to be elite. By all accounts, he was a good guy who had too much on his shoulders. He did not perform well in high pressure situations, and the Twins managers of the era (Gardner and Mauch) were just not good at reading that sort of thing. If Gardenhire had kept Hawkins as the closer for five years longer than he did, the results would have been similar. The Twins got a lot of prospects when they traded Davis, which shows that people thought he could pitch in spite of his results.

 

Reardon came on in '87. He struggled most of the year, but down the stretch he was suddenly able to throw Blyleven's magical curveball, and the rest his history. Reardon's performance did not come back down to earth for another five years.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

Starting pitching is the only bright spot this season.  The hitting and bullpen have been flops.  This team is not a.500 team.  I’m not really missing the no tv coverage.

 

The Yankees, Atlanta, and Tampa Bay are also off to slow starts. They going to finish below .500 too?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

The Twins Daily Caretaker Fund
The Twins Daily Caretaker Fund

You all care about this site. The next step is caring for it. We’re asking you to caretake this site so it can remain the premiere Twins community on the internet.

×
×
  • Create New...