Now about the Astros’ closer…..
Luke Gregerson is not and never will be your classic fireballing, shutdown closer. He is a guy who has an OK fastball and a good slider. He succeeds when the opposition goes diving for that slider, which then dives under their bats. He does not succeed when he gets behind on the count and has to come in with that OK fastball.
Currently, Gregerson is tied for 4th in the AL with 13 saves. However, he is also tied for the lead with four blown saves on the season. Most of the best closers have between zero and two blown saves at this point in the season.
Beyond that, in his last 12 appearances, he has six saves and four blown saves and two appearances when a save was not on the line. His ERA, that was 1.64 on May 3rd, has now ballooned to 4.32 exactly one month later. So what are the options at this point?
- As George (41) Bush said, “Stay the course”. Keep the veteran Gregerson as the 9th inning guy. Recognize what A.J. Hinch admitted, that he had been over-used (4 games in 5 days) and that his ERA was an acceptable 3.28 before his three run outing the other night.
- Move lights out 8th inning reliever Will Harris into the 9th inning spot. How lights out is Mr. Harris? He has made 23 appearances this season and only allowed one run. And the one run he has been charged with? In the third game of the season (his first appearance), he had gotten the Yanks out in the 6th and in the 7th was pulled after allowing a single with one out. The runner scored when Ken Giles gave up one of his early season late inning bombs two batters later. You need the Hubble telescope to see Harris’ 0.36 ERA and both his 0.730 WHIP and his 6.75 Ks / BB are outstanding.
- Speaking of Ken Giles….He was brought here to be the closer or the closer-in-waiting. He pitched great in Philadelphia the last two seasons. He has a high-octane fastball and an inconsistent slider that can be devastating (sometimes to the other team, sometimes to him). Yes, his ERA is 6.00. Yes, he has blown up at inopportune times. But if he was handed the keys would he get his confidence back?
- Since giving up 10 runs (9 earned) in two early season blow-outs, Michael Feliz has been death out of the bullpen. In his last 11 appearances, his ERA is 0.48. In those last 18.2 innings he has 30 Ks against one BB and only four hits. He has four wins in four extra inning games in that time frame. He has been Beast Feliz.
It says here, that the front office will probably continue with Gregerson as the closer, rightly or wrongly, but will look to move him at the deadline. They will likely say that Giles is not ready (which he is probably not), that they don’t want to tamper with Harris or Feliz, who are both almost untouchable. But it is likely they will make a move at some point.
- Who do you like in the closer role?
- Do you think Harris would melt if asked to pitch one inning later than he does?
- Do you like having Feliz in this role where he comes out of the bullpen and holds on to tied games until the Astros un-tie them?
- Do you feel better with Gregerson as the grizzled veteran anchoring the bullpen?
- Do you think Giles would pitch better if the front office and dugout handed him the closer’s role?