Wednesday, March 21, 2007
The news that Mike Timlin will be heading on the DL is disturbing. Even though we think Timlin has failed (he does have 23 saves over four Sox seasons) in this role in the past, it was just a few meltdown performances that clouds our judgment. On paper, he would have been the best candidate to close…and by closing, I mean the classic Dennis Eck usage – he only comes in at the start of the ninth inning in a save situation.
When your club does not have a relief ace like Joe Nathan or Rivera, the reliever with the best control should be the closer. He won’t and should not be the guy that comes in with men on in the eighth and then goes out again like Keith Foulke and Papelbon have done. But the reliever that doesn’t give up the free pass can close.
When your team is in a save situation, one of the worse things to do is putting the trying or go ahead run on base. Because one mistake could result in a home run that gives the other club life. Making the batter “hit it where they ain’t” multiple times to beat you is a viable strategy for the classic closer. Todd Jones is a good example and Timlin can play that same role. He is the model of consistency in this area average 2.25 BB over nine innings each of the last three seasons. PECOTA projects a similar rate for 2007. Timlin can close; he just can’t be Foulke v.2004 or Papelbon.
Unfortunately at the present time, the Sox do not have a 100 mph strikeout machine or a Fernando Rodney to sit next to Timlin out in the pen. Power, strikeout relievers can bail the starter out of those late inning jams. Craig Hansen and Bryce Cox have that kind of ability. Brendan Donnelly can get in done on occasion and Joel Pineiro is said to still have a power arm and new arm slot. Over the long haul, that is the big question, not who is the closer.