« For Josh Bell, 'a definite confidence booster' | Main | A few pregame notes as the tarp gets applied and then removed »

August 21, 2010

Calling a closer by committee?

Orioles manager Buck Showalter’s not putting a name on his late-inning philosophy.

He’s also not showing his hand.

But here’s a little observation from the Department of Obvious: The Orioles are currently employing a closer-by-committee.

Or as Showalter would probably prefer: A closer-by-specific-situation.

“Each day you take a little different,” Showalter said.

On Saturday, with a couple lefties scheduled to hit for the Texas Rangers in the eighth inning, Showalter summoned lefty Michael Gonzalez.

Gonzalez allowed a run and was shaky, but held the lead. With Gonzalez pitching in the eighth, the assumption was that Alfredo Simon, the club’s saves leader, would come out for the ninth.

But when the bullpen door opened in the top of the ninth with the Orioles up by two runs, it was Koji Uehara who ran toward the mound.

“It’s nice to have some guys with experience at the end, but we felt like the way their lineup was going to set up, (Uehara entering) had a chance to happen if we could get there and score some runs.”

In other words, Showalter was thinking about using Uehara in the ninth Saturday night before the late innings unfolded.

Uehara, through his interpreter, said he had no idea he would be called on in that situation. But he saved 33 games in Japan, including a 32-save season for the Yomiuri Giants in 2007. So he’s not fazed by the pressure.

“I have the experience in Japan, so I didn’t feel like it was something different,” he said. “The fact that I am able to get a save here, in the United States, I am really happy.”

Uehara retired three of the four batters he faced, including the striking out the ever-dangerous Vladimir Guerrero to end the game.

Showalter’s not anointing Uehara the closer now, though he may be the one to get the next opportunity. Then again, it could go to Gonzalez if the need for a lefty arises. Or if Showalter wants a power pitcher, he can always summon Simon.

“(Uehara’s) pitching well. Sometimes that situation may show up differently,” Showalter said. “We have some people capable of (closing). They haven’t been as consistent. He’s certainly been consistent.”

Here’s Showalter’s bottom line:

“I’m more interested in getting in some save situations than who’s going to do it.”

Posted by Dan Connolly at 11:00 PM | | Comments (7)


Koji in a save situation! Lugo in left field! Is Buck an original thinker or what? Nice to see a guy not afraid to go against the book and follow his gut. Good luck, Buck.

From what I have seen this season, the O's do not have a closer and may need to acquire one in the off season. Simon is prone to home runs and a bit wild; Gonzalez looked terrible yesterday - he looked pretty wild - was not sure where the ball was going; Uehara may be the best. He throws strikes and can be deceptive. No matter. Buck has it under control and has a real feel for the game. He is not the mechanical type (i.e. Pitcher X pitches in the 7th inning; Pitcher Y pitches in the 8th; and Pitcher Z closes) He will do what makes the most sense based on game situations. How refreshing is that!

He'd prefer to be mechanical - he turns in pretty much the same lineup every game, for instance - but at least he's smart enough to see that there's no reason for it with this mess of a bullpen.

Now, he needs to give Wieters some games at DH! We don't want our young 6'5" catcher catching so much...he's third in the AL in games caught, even though he hit the DL for two weeks.

I have no problem with bucks choice. I think using a gut feeling, situation, or hot hand makes a lot of sense if you don't have a #1 closer.. I often hate to see a guy throw lights out in the eighth and the bring in another in the ninth..

Whatever works. Unless you have someone like Eckersley, Hoffman or Rivera I think designated closers are over rated. Use whoever is pitching well.
Buck's handling of the pitching staff is such a refreshing change from the rigid by-the-numbers approach we've seen here for so long. It s so nice to have a real manager.

Closers are completely overrated. Go with the hot hand, by each situation. I agree with Buck 100%.

The save statistic is the most overrated, useless of them all.
A good manager, unafraid of originality, will always go with the matchup!
Go O's!

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):


About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.

Baltimore Sun coverage
Most Recent Comments
Photo galleries

Buy Sports Tickets from the Baltimore Sun Store

Search our new database for every home run hit hit by the O's and the opposition — home and away — since 1992.

Minor league resources
Web links to official sites, stats, schedules and more for O's affiliates and other area teams

International League (AAA)
News | Scoreboard | Standings | Statistics

Eastern League (AA)
News | Scoreboard | Standings | Statistics

Carolina League (A)
News | Scoreboard | Standings | Statistics

South Atlantic League (A)
News | Scoreboard | Standings | Statistics

New York-Penn League (A)
News | Scoreboard | Standings | Statistics

Appalachian League (R)
News | Scoreboard | Standings | Statistics
Sign up for FREE Orioles alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for Orioles text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Blog updates
Recent updates to sports blogs  Subscribe to this feed
Stay connected