Cleveland Indians CL Joe Borowski likely out as closer

by Tim Piotrowski on July 3, 2008 @ 15:19:17 PDT


Paul Hoynes, of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, reports Cleveland Indians relief pitcher Joe Borowski is expected to be replaced as the team's closer. Manager Eric Wedge could name one pitcher as the closer or use a closer-by-committee including relief pitchers Masahide Kobayashi, Rafael Betancourt and Rafael Perez.

The Indians bullpen has not been one of the most stellar groups in baseball this season. Their 14 combined saves this season is the worst in the American League and rank next to last in the major leagues. This is a major reason why Wedge believes shaking up his bullpen will help the team.

The leader of the bullpen heading into the season was supposed to be Borowski, but he has had troubles. In 18 appearances this season, he is 1-3 with a 7.56 ERA, six saves and four blown saves. He has struck out nine batters and walked eight in 16 2/3 innings. Earlier in the year, he was on the disabled list with a triceps injury, but unfortunately for the Indians none of the other relievers could step up and help pick up the slack.

Kobayashi has been one of the better pitchers coming out of the bullpen, but not all of his numbers are sparkling. In 39 appearances, he is 4-4 with a 3.29 ERA four saves and two blown saves, but one of the blown saves was in the eighth inning. He has struck out 26 batters and walked 11 in 41 innings.

Betancourt is another pitcher who has been having some trouble coming out of the bullpen. Many expected him to be the closer-in-waiting, but he failed to deliver security when Borowski went down. In 38 games, he is 2-4 with a 6.03 ERA, four saves and two blown saves, one of which came in the eighth inning. He has struck out 38 batters and walked 12 batters in 37 1/3 innings. In his career he has 16 saves and 19 blown saves, which is not very good for a potential closer.

Perez has put up some decent numbers but has not been immune to the blown save this season. In 38 appearances, he is 1-1 with a 3.44 ERA and four blown saves, although none of them came in the ninth inning. He has struck out 37 batters and walked 14 batters in 36 2/3 innings.

From a fantasy perspective, none of these pitchers are truly must-haves on a fantasy team, especially with a possible committee setup. Borowski should definitely be dropped in shallower leagues because of his value severely drops now that he will not be recording saves. Most Borowski owners in deeper leagues can drop him if they're secure in the bullpen. If the team uses a closer-by-committee, none of the other pitchers will have a lot of fantasy value, but Kobayashi and Betancourt likely will have more value than Perez. However, owners should not drop anything valuable to pick up one of these pitchers unless they are desperate for saves.

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About Tim Piotrowski

Piotrowski has been a Hot Off the Wire analyst since 2007.

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