MLB's 5 Most Frustratingly Inconsistent Closers
The MLB closer has one of the toughest jobs in baseball and inconsistency at that position is one of the most frustrating things a fan of the game can experience.
It is very difficult for a team to find a closer that can be relied upon to be successful in that role year in and year out. Mariano Rivera of the Yankees is one of the rare examples of a closer that remains consistent from year to year.
A great example of the inconsistency of closers is the Detroit Tigers Jose Valverde. After being perfect in save opportunities a season ago, Valverde has already blown three saves this year.
Here is a look at the five most frustratingly inconsistent closers in the MLB this season.
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John Axford of the Milwaukee Brewers makes fans of the team hold their breath whenever he comes in during a save situation.
In 2012, Axford already has four blown saves in 17 opportunities. Perhaps more startling is Axford's ERA this season. His ERA is currently above five. This means that he is giving up a lot of runs.
If that trend continues, Brewer's fans should expect even more blown saves this season.
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Colorado Rockies fans can't help but to break out in a sweat when Rafael Betancourt is brought in during a save situation. Luckily for them, save situations have been tough for the Rockies to come by this season.
In his 16 save opportunities, Betancourt has blown four so far in 2012.
Betancourt's other stats, 1.08 WHIP and 3.14 ERA, have not been terrible this season. However, the runs he has given up have been damaging to the Rockies.
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Heath Bell was signed by the Miami Marlins during their spending spree during this past offseason. However, his 2012 season has not gone the way that many Marlins fans expected it to go.
In 19 save opportunities in 2012, Bell has blown four of them. He has also fashioned an abysmal ERA of 6.35 to go along with 17 walks.
It is never a good sign when a closer has given up so many walks. That means he is putting opposing players on base instead of making them hit their way on. Add that together with his high ERA, and it is easy to see that Bell has been inconsistent in 2012.
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When the Cincinnati Reds put flamethrower Aroldis Chapman into the closer role, fans of the team expected him to be very successful right away. They thought that his 100 MPH fastball would just shut opposing teams down in the ninth inning.
However, his performance has not met those lofty expectations. In 13 save opportunities, Chapman has blown four of them. Besides the blown saves, his other stats have been impressive. He has fashioned an ERA of 1.98, a WHIP of 0.77, and he has compiled 64 strikeouts in only 36.1 IP.
Even though it is very difficult for a hitter to catch up with Chapman's fastball, when he leaves one over the plate and the hitter puts a good swing on the ball, it tends to go a long way.
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The St. Louis Cardinals have the kind of offense that can make even an inconsistent closer look good. In 20 save opportunities, Jason Motte has blown four saves.
That may not seem like very many, but when you consider the Cardinals are only 2.5 games back in the NL Central, those four blown saves suddenly seem a lot more important.
The other Cardinals pitcher who has gotten a chance to save some games has done even worse. Marc Rzepczynski has blown all five save opportunities in which he has pitched.
The Cardinals are going to need more consistency from their closers to stick around in their division.
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