Going into the 2009 postseason without knowing exactly whom your closer will be seems to be a new trend in baseball. The Philadelphia Phillies are just one of the teams on board with this trend. It seems as if Brett Myers, Ryan Madson, and Brad Lidge are going to draw straws to see who is going to close in Game One of the NLDS.
Now, it appears the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim have no clue who is going to pitch the ninth inning of Game One of the ALDS. According to MLB.com, Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia plans on using both Kevin Jepsen and Brian Fuentes in the ninth inning based on matchups.
Has this ever worked in the postseason?
I am serious. When was the last time a team has won the World Series using the “closer by matchup” approach? I would say you have to go all the way back to the 1990 Cincinnati Reds to find a team that won the World Series without one specific closer.
But the Reds were unique because they had Norm Charlton, Randy Myers, and Rob Dibble, otherwise known as the “Nasty Boys.” They were three legit closers, who could have closed for any team in the majors at that time.
I can’t say the same about Fuentes and Jepsen.
Having two relief pitchers moonlighting as closers is like having two quarterbacks in the NFL. It really means you have none. Now the Angels are going into the 2009 postseason without a closer.
The Angels made their own bed when it comes to their closer situation. They refused to re-sign Francisco Rodriguez, they didn’t try to sign Kerry Wood or Trevor Hoffman, and they ended up with Brian Fuentes, which was probably the worst option out of that group.
Now, I will cut the Angels a little slack because Scot Shields was lost for the year because of injury, and Jose Arredondo has taken as major step backward this year. They were expected to fill in for Fuentes if he struggled as the closer.
However, the Angels did nothing at the trading or waiver deadline to improve their bullpen; that’s on them.
Despite having 41 saves, I have been saying from the beginning that Fuentes is a nice left-handed set-up guy on a contending team rather than a closer on a championship team. Now the Angels are finding that out first hand.
As for Jepsen closing in October? I am sorry, but I just don’t see it. It’s one thing to pitch the eighth inning against the Oakland A’s in September. It’s another thing to pitch the ninth inning at Fenway Park or Yankee Stadium in October.
Here is a very likely scenario: Game Four, ALDS, Fenway Park and the Angels are beating the Red Sox 4-3 heading into the ninth inning. The Red Sox have Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and Victor Martinez coming up to bat.
The Angels options are Fuentes and Jepsen. Is there an Angels fan alive who thinks that ninth inning ends without that game tied or the Red Sox winning on a walk-off?
I didn’t think so.