“Closing Pitcher” is a Stupid Concept and Twins Should Eliminate Position Entirely

Minnesota Twins Taylor Rogers (55) and Jason Castro celebrate their 2-0 win over the Cleveland Indians after a baseball game Thursday, March 28, 2019, in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Bruce Kluckhohn)
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If I read one more thing questioning who the Twins closer will be for 2019, as if it’s something that actually matters, I’m going to take too many Dramamine and lay my head on a fucking train track. Seriously, what is happening? I thought baseball was the new “woke” sport where everyone was into changing all of the old school ideas that don’t make sense anymore…

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The “Closer” position in baseball is the most overhyped and overpaid position in all of sports history. Sure, there are big moments and big 9th innings where closers have been the most important part of that game. But, how often is the 9th inning the most monumentous part of a baseball game? Not very often.

The most common way to earn a “Save” is for a relief pitcher to enter a game in the 9th inning, with a lead of 3 runs or less. If they keep the lead and win the game in that inning, the “Save” is theirs.

I’m fine with the concept. But now, MLB teams are saving their best pitcher for the 9th inning. No matter what. Think about that for a second without the blinders of recent baseball history being held over your eyes. Why would you do that?

What if you’re entering the 8th inning and your team just came back and tied the game in the half-inning prior? With only 6 outs left and the momentum in your favor, you’d want your best relief pitcher to take the mound, right? WRONG. In today’s game, you can’t put the closer in, in that situation. If they hold your opposition and then your team takes the lead in the next half-inning, your closer gets the “Win” (tragic, right?) and no longer qualifies for the save…

Or even better, what if you are in the middle of the 7th inning and the bases are loaded in a tie game? Do you want to put your best bullpen arm out there to save that game from going south quickly? That guy might not have a 9th inning to save if your opponent gets one more hit in the 7th…

Again, why does that make sense? Are we trying to get saves for our best bullpen pitchers or are we trying to win baseball games?

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It’s time to write the “closer” role right off of the MLB rule books and the Twins should lead the charge. Turn Trevor May and Taylor Rogers into your “holders” for late innings when you need to keep runs off the board, while putting outs on it. Either elevate “holds” as the key stat for pitchers or make up a new one…

Example: How about an outs to runs ratio for bullpen pitchers? Maybe a +/- stat based on that…? Anything is better than a “Save” being what everyone cares about and what gets relief pitchers paid. 

Rise above the nonsense, Rocco. We can be better than this. Pitch our best bullpen arms in the biggest situations…. no matter the inning.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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