Home » Blog » Cleveland and Detroit facing problems with thier closers

Cleveland and Detroit facing problems with thier closers

The Cleveland Indians have now joined the Detroit Tigers as another American League Central team with a crisis over a closer.

The Indians are in second place in the division three games behind the front running Tigers as the midpoint of the season approaches.

The race for the division title looks to be between the two teams, but both are in a race to find a closer for their respective bullpens.

Detroit played last season in the World Series despite Jose Valverde their closer having a terrible postseason. His struggles seemed meaningless following a sweep by the San Francisco Giants in the World Series.

However, entering this season it seemed obvious the only thing keeping Detroit from a World Series title is a good closer. Valverde left via free agency, but no move was made by management to replace him.

Eventually Valverde was re-signed in early April but it has been less than smooth sailing since. The lead the Tigers have of three games has been more thanks to a great starting pitching rotation and offensive power than a strong closer.

Thus far Valverde has 9 saves in 12 save opportunities, but has given up six home runs and 12 total earned runs in just 19 ½ innings. During an interview last week, Jim Leyland, the Detroit manager, said Joaquin Benoit would be the team’s closer for now.

Cleveland is going through a similar situation. The Indians have their best closer on the disabled list. Chris Perez strained his rotator cuff and he has drug charges that making things uneasy in the clubhouse.

His backup, Vinnie Pestano thus far has 2 saves in 2 save opportunities covering for Perez. However, he does not have full velocity thanks to a stint on the DL for a right elbow problem.

Perez pitched a simulated game situation in the bullpen on Friday and the team might activate him during the coming week. The Indians season could count on the type of Perez that returns to the bullpen for the team.

Will they get back the reliever that converted on 90% of his opportunities for a save (75 of 83) during the 2011 and the 2012 seasons?

On the other hand, will the sore shoulder persist and cause him to be ineffective as he has been most of this season converting only six of his eight opportunities for saves, giving up 15 hits and eight runs, including 4 home runs and 10 walks in only 16 innings of work.

Should the Indians have a mediocre closer return due to a sore shoulder and distractions off the field, and Pestano struggles with velocity and command of his pitches, what will manager Terry Francona do?

Options Cleveland has besides Perez and Pestano are Brian Shaw, Joe Smith and Cody Allen. However, between the three they only have four saves in the majors.

Southpaw Nick Hagadone has a strong enough arm needed to close, but has had control problems of last that make that thought risky. This season in Triple A Columbus, Preston Guilmet has 16 saves and 86 in his career since 2009 in the minors.

Whomever the Tribe finds to fill that closer spot has to be done before the second half of the season is over or it might cause them to miss out on the postseason.

  • 100%