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.”