Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Indians Borowski to DL - Who's next in line to close?

It's official - Joe Borowski was just placed on the 15 day DL with what the club is calling "a strained triceps" (grammatically, shouldn't that be a "strained tricep"? whatever). He's been mostly ineffective this year, so hopefully it was the injury that lead to this ineffectiveness (and not his general mediocrity).

But realistically, he's 36 & has been a so-so closer for a number of years now. Now might not be a bad time for the Indians to go to a new, full time closer. Below is ESPN's take:

"This will open the door for Rafael Betancourt's long-awaited ascension to ninth-inning duties. Betancourt is merely the leading candidate among a handful of potential bullpen aces, including Rafael Perez and Jensen Lewis. However, Betancourt certainly deserves the first opportunity. During a 2007 that was one of the best seasons ever for a setup man, his strikeout-to-walk ratio was almost nine, an inhuman figure that more than supported his 1.47 ERA and 0.76 WHIP."
Time will tell who gets the ball first, but our money is on Betancourt (who had the lowest ERA in the majors last year for any pitcher with 75 + IP). Ironically, in last night's game against the Red Sox, the ESPN announcers pointed out during the 7th inning (when Betancourt was getting out of a jam by striking out Big Papi & Manny) that Betancourt has the demeanor of a closer - specifically that he was very slow & decisive with his prep before his windup (which I guess can intimidate batters), and he has a quirky Mariano Rivera-type leg wiggle just before he comes set.

Fantasy Spin:
Betancourt should succeed while Borowski is out, and keep the job the remainder of the year (I'd say there is a 75% likelihood of this). This also increases the value of Rafael Perez & my dark horse candidate for saves, Masa Kobayashi, who saved something like a billion games while playing in Japan.

By the way, Greener on the Other side is betting on Kobayashi, but they do seem to have an unusual interest in the Japanese pitcher (check out their blog's URL:)). For the time being, trust me & go with Betancourt.

Go Tribe!

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