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2011 MLB: Is There Really A Closer By Committee for Atlanta Braves?

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 31: Relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel #46 of the Atlanta Braves delivers to a Washington Nationals batter at Nationals Park on March 31, 2011 in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Adam BernacchioAnalyst IIIApril 1, 2011

While Major League Baseball’s Opening Day might be one of the greatest days ever, it also might be the most overrated. A lot is made of who wins and who loses and a lot is made over game one of 162: John Kruk has already hit the panic button on the Milwaukee Brewers.

However, there are those rare cases when something does happen on Opening Day that sheds some insight into the future. Today’s Opening Day tilt between the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals is an example of that.

All spring, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he was going to mix and match Jonny Venters and Craig Kimbrel in the ninth inning. It made sense since Venters is a lefty and Kimbrel is a righty.

In the very first game of the season, Gonzalez went the complete opposite of this strategy. It would appear Kimbrel is the man in the ninth for the Braves.

With the Braves leading 2-0 heading into the bottom of the eighth, the Nationals had three right-handed batters coming to the plate. If Gonzalez was really going to mix and match, then Kimbrel should have been the guy in the eighth. Even more so because the Nationals had two lefties scheduled to hit in the ninth.

Instead, Gonzalez went with Venters in the eighth against the righties and Kimbrel in the ninth against the two lefties. Both pitchers did their job to perfection and the Braves went on to win 2-0.

I know it’s only one game, but it clearly appears Gonzalez has scraped the “closer by committee” approach and Kimbrel will get the first crack to be the man in the ninth for the Braves.

You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg

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