George Sherrill For Closer!
Would you expect anything else from me, now that Eddie Guardado's reportedly lost his job?
Yeah, I know, I'm a homer. Still, hear me out.
- Even I will admit that (aside from yesterday's "oops"), Soriano is probably the best pitcher in the bullpen. Putz is pitching well, and is on fire since building confidence in his splitter. But Soriano's still the Bullpen Ace.
- Modern analysis seems to agree that the closer's role is at least equally (if not less) important than the 7th and 8th Inning setup role. When you have a 1-run lead, and the starter has made it through 6, but is struggling in the 7th, putting two runners on board, you want a reliever that will not allow those runners to score. Coming in with runners on base and no one out is more crucial than coming in to start an inning. You want your relief aces to pitch in those situations. With no one out, you don't want to be blowing through matchup pitchers (LOOGYs and ROOGYs).
- Given that even George would admit that Putz and Soriano are higher up on the depth charts than he is, one would think that those two pitchers, then, are the M's "relief aces" (just read anything coming from the papers or MLB.com on George -- they still call him a "situational lefty" -- another term for "LOOGY").
- You want to use your "relief aces" in the high-leverage 7th and 8th innings, if you want to win the game. You still need an effective pitcher that can handle shutting the door in the 9th.
- Again, even George would admit that he still needs some work against righties. He hasn't been completely terrible against them -- in terms of HR's allowed. Okay, okay, I'm stretching things a bit. His ESPN Splits show that righties have an OPS of 1.380 on him. Who am I kidding -- that's terrible! Still, unless the 9th inning contains a stable full of righties, George should be able to hold his own. The more he faces 'em, the more he'll get comfortable. He's closed games reliably before, he can do it again.
- Use the bullpen aces to lock down the 7th and 8th, and let George cover the 9th.