June 17, 2012; Flushing, NY,USA; Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Sean Marshall (51) pitches during the eighth inning against the New York Mets at Citi Field. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

There Is No Solution At Closer


You want a real “closer?” A guy who has that nastiness, that 9th inning ice-in-the-veins confidence that the best closers in baseball seem to have. The Reds have one. They paid over 8 million dollars to get him. He’ll never throw a pitch in a Reds uniform.

Jun 10, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Detroit Tigers left fielder Matt Young (38) scores the go head run on a pass ball by the Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman (54) during the eighth inning at Great American Ball Park. The Tigers defeated the Reds 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE

Chapman just blew his second game in a row and his third in the past two weeks. The Reds walk away from interleague play with a disappointing 7-8 record. Minus the three saves that Chapman blew, they could have been 10-5 and secured their first winning interleague play record since 2010.

It took one fastball on a 3-1 count to Josh Willingham to put that happy thought to bed.

I’m not going in on the Aroldis Chapman “Cuban Missile Crisis.” By now, you’ve read or have heard everything you’d care to concerning that business. But now comes the second issue – what do do?

Of course, after a biting loss like yesterday’s, the message boards were loaded with new ideas and suggestions to solving this closer crisis. Sean Marshall was the name that kept popping up.

If this is a solution that you’ve offered as well, I simply have one question: are you joking? Sean Marshall. I understand that it’s June 25th and April and May seem like distant memories – but have we seriously forgotten how tumultuous the 9th inning became with a pure junk-baller on the mound? Furthermore, do we remember that Marshall, the simple solution for some of you out there, no more than a month ago lost his position to the current closer you’re trying to replace?

Sean Marshall isn’t a closer. He’s a deadly situational lefty. Always has been. Marshall has pitched no more than 75 innings the past two years – two years in which his ERA never eclipsed 2.65. That’s because he was used primarily as an insert in sticky situations to get batters out when it mattered the most.

In save situations this year, batters are hitting .270 v. Marshall. .216 in non-save situations. He’s back to doing what he does best, and after a 5.40 ERA in April, he sports a current .79 ERA for June, giving him a collective 2.83 ERA.

And your answer is to move him back?

The inconvenient truth for this 2012 Reds team is that they don’t have a closer. The closer for the Cincinnati Reds is struggling right now to pull elastic bands and restoring his range of motion.

Maybe Chapman will be a closer. But he’s not now. Dusty says Chapman is “human.” That’s unfortunate, because the best closers aren’t. They are machines, primed and ready to do put down any part of the lineup to officially end the game. There is nothing behind the eyes of a good closer. No thoughts. No feelings. Just a guy who could stare a one-run lead with Barry Bonds coming to the plate and not even blink.

The Reds don’t have one. And where it is frustrating, I think they have the bullpen to forgo the services of a real closer. The Reds bullpen is the third best in baseball – 2.70 ERA. Plenty of guys willing and capable.

I’d love it if Dusty were to just trash the role entirely. One night it could be Chapman. Marshall another. Maybe Marshall gets the big LH and is replaced by Ondrusek for the remaining two outs. Maybe Arredondo looks to be the best option on another night. I don’t ride the Blame-Baker Express, but I will agree with Paul Daugherty that sometimes he limits his options by following the Book of Baseball religiously.

The Cincinnati Reds have a closer – he’s out for the year. The remainders, as a whole, can fill in the blank.

Tags: Baseball Cincinnati Reds Dusty Baker GABP Ryan Madson

  • beeker

    There might not be an Ivan Drago in the bullpen, but there is more than enough talent to get the job done most nights if Dusty plays to each guy’s strengths rather than trying to make them fit into some pre-defined role from the less-than-holy Gospel of LaRussa.

  • jsuer1971

    I agree with your assessment of Marshall. His breaking ball, against righties, scares me to death.
     
    As for Baker, I like his chances of getting Chapman straightened out…………….better than most managers.  He plays the role of “wise counsel” well with young players.