Todd Jones was the losing pitcher yesterday, and it seems like whenever he loses a game or blows a save, everyone comes out of the woodwork to proclaim that he shouldn’t be the team’s closer. In my opinion, I think Jones is best left where he’s at for the simple reason that 1) I think he’s the third best reliever on the team (at least at this stage of their careers) and 2) closing usually puts a reliever in a lower leverage situation then a middle reliever.
We can use last night’s game as an example. The Tigers were down by two runs and the Yankees had one on and one out in the sixth inning. The Tigers were down 6-4 and any additional runs would severely hamper the team’s chances at coming back. I’d much rather have Joel Zumaya in that situation then having him wasted by bringing him in the ninth inning with nobody out and a two run lead. Zumaya then got Alex Rodriguez to fly out and then he struck out Jorge Posada. He finished the game with 2 1/3 innings and gave up only one hit with four strikeouts. He left the game and the Tigers were still only down by one run game so he increased the Tigers chances of staging a comeback.
By the end of the game, the only player who would have a higher Win Probability Added (WPA) was the other Tiger reliever who I think is better then Todd Jones. Fernando Rodney got the final hitter out in the eighth and pitched a shutout ninth. During that time, the Tigers tied the game up. The game went into extra frames and Todd Jones took the loss.
So the question is, do you want Jones closing games, or would you have put him into any of the above situtation and expected him to do any better. I’m of the opinion that Leyland played this one right on the money, he just ran out of his better arms.
So I’ve actually been happy with Todd Jones so far. He’s blown only the one save and then last night’s game, but outside of that, he’s been fairly reliable in his role, and that just happens to be closing games. I say we keep him there. Then again, I’ve thought the “closer” has been silly for quite some time so what do I know.
We’re going on our annual baseball trip this year, and it’s a little earlier then normal. We’re combining a trip to Disney World with a stop at Tropicana Field to see the Devil Rays play the Toronto Blue Jays. I’ll be back in time to catch the White Sox series, but I’m taking my laptop so I’ll be able to listen to the Tigers take on the Red Sox this weekend.