IBI Power Poll: Who will be the Indians next closer?
Is it a player on the current roster, or will the Indians sign someone?
In our last Power Poll, we took a look at which current rookie or minor leaguer that would have the biggest impact with the Indians in 2014. In essence, what we were looking for was which player might have the Yan Gomes effect next season. Rare is the day that a player enters a season as a rookie, or if not a rookie, having never been a major league regular and ends the season having been a major factor with the big league club.
Yan Gomes was that player last year.
We took a look at several different prospects, and while there wasn’t a majority, there was one player that far exceeded the rest.
That one player was Jose Ramirez, with 59 votes of the total 303 votes for 19 ½ percent of the vote.
It should have been higher.
The only other player with a double-digit percentage was reliever Kyle Crockett, with 31 votes and 10% of the vote.
This week, we are going to take a look at who the Indians are going to ultimately use as their closer in 2014.
With Chris Perez gone and with Vinnie Pestano spending much of the 2013 season struggling with injury, in the minors, or trying to find his 2012 form, there closer job should be a wide-open, spring training battle.
In truth, the Indians may not have the closer currently on the roster.
With that said, let’s take a look at the current candidates, and see if there just might be someone already on the 40-man or the minors that could take over the role next season:
Cody Allen: While there are some that question Cody Allen and his effectiveness in 2013, the simple facts are that Allen was one of the best and most consistent relievers on the team. He can blow it by you, and he can nip at the corners when it’s all going well. The best part of Allen is that he’s still nowhere close to as good as he could ultimately be. The only question is whether or not you use him as your closer, or continue to use him in a role in which you can use him at any point he’s needed?
Austin Adams: Austin Adams was just added to the 40-man roster, and while he has no real experience as a closer, he does have an upper-90’s fastball, that can touch 100 MPH. He doesn’t have the experience, but he does have the stuff, if he gets a chance.
Blake Wood: Blake Wood is an interesting candidate. The Indians signed him prior to the 2013 season while Wood was recovering from Tommy John surgery. Wood has upper 90’s stuff, and has a lot of major league experience in his history, just not as a closer. He doesn’t have any options, so he’s a make-or-break player.
Bryan Shaw: Shaw was one of the biggest surprises in the 2013 season, and while I do think his season wasn’t quite as good as some were making it, there’s no doubt that in his progression as a reliever, he made major moves last year. When his pitches have movement, he can destroy hitters. When they don’t, he gets scorched. Still, if he can continue to improve, perhaps he’s the answer at the back-end of the bullpen.
Carlos Carrasco: Carrasco may have the best stuff of all the players listed here, except for one. He’s never been a closer, but as a reliever, Carrasco was 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA in eight appearances, covering 13 2/3 innings. He struck out 11 during that stretch, while only walking five. Carrasco will get every chance to start, but might his best spot be as the closer?
Danny Salazar: Yeah, I had to go here. There’s been enough folks calling for Salazar to be moved to the pen to save him from his nasty injury problems, that I just had to do it. Salazar may prove to be the best starter we have, so not sure why the Indians would even think of moving him to the pen.
Preston Guilmet: Guilmet may have the most closing experience of all the pitchers on this list. While he’s struggled in his few sporadic appearances, he’s been a dominant closer in the minors. Guilmet doesn’t have a destructive fastball, but uses a deceptive delivery and pinpoint location to make hitters look foolish. Guilmet has a career 2.57 ERA in the minors, with 90 saves in his career, in 196 games pitched. He’s been really good, but may not have the stuff to be a closer in the majors.
Bryan Price: Like Guilmet, Price doesn’t really have dominant stuff, but he did have a phenomenal 2013 season. Price has been up and down over his career in the Indians minor league system, but seems to be peaking heading into a season in which he’ll likely be heading to the bigs sooner, rather than later.
Trey Haley: Haley has always had an electric arm, and is one of those guys that can hit 100 when he’s healthy. That’s the key though. When will he be healthy, and for how long? He’s struggled at times in the minors, and that’s mostly the lack of consistency of play. He never seems to stay healthy long enough to get the reps he needs to make that net step.
Vinnie Pestano: This was an easy answer, right? Perez would leave, and Pestano would take over, with Allen taking over his roll. Pestano himself is pointing at the World Baseball Classic as being a factor, and while some point to other WBC players as not having issues, it’s not like arm, shoulder and elbow issues are catchy. If Pestano can regain his 2012 form, this isn’t even a question. That’s a big if though.
C.C. Lee: Lee is the best reliever in the system, and he should be with the big league club right out of the gate. Lee has never been a closer by trade, but he’s always been a back-of-the-bullpen sorta guy, and has electric stuff. Of course, like Guilmet, he’s a guy that hasn’t really had much experience in the big leagues.
Or will it be someone not currently on the roster?
Everyone gets one vote, and leave a comment!!!
While you’re at it, take a quick look at CSI’s Sunday column at our “sister” site, Cleveland Sports Insiders, where I talk about the Browns and the Cavs, as well as some Indians tidbits, including Joe Smith and Carlos Beltran. The site is a hybrid of our CSI podcast that originated right here at IBI, and gives us the venue to talk about other aspects of Cleveland sports.
Jim is currently the senior editor and Columnist, as well as the host of IBI's weekly online radio shows, Smoke Signals and Cleveland Sports Insiders. You can follow Jim on Twitter @Jim_IBI, or contact him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last on my list would be Carrasco as I don't think he's got it between his ears to be an effective closer. That's a rep that plagued him back to his Phillies days and well I've seen nothing that changes my mind on him in the closers role.
Do think getting an 8th/9th inning free agent (or trade guy) makes sense and is the ultimate route the Tribe goes.
That all said, I believe they will sign either an eighth inning setup man or closer in free agency.....likely a closer since they are easier to get on one year deals and the market is flush with them....plus they want to leverage their best reliever, Allen, as their 8th inning guy. So put me down as the closer TBD since it will come via free agency.
There are a Lot of guys on this list who have the attributes to fill the closer roll, but I think its pretty safe to say that it will be Allen or FA. The more interesting question would be who do you think would fill that role if no FA is signed and neither Allen nor Shaw were options. I would actually go with Guilmet in that situation. It is hard to ignore what he has done in the role while in the minors. Experience Does matter when it comes to the 9th inning.
And I agree that it would be nice to have Pestano back to form. If he can rebound, he would be an ideal candidate to fill the roll at some point.
...in a perfect world.
Stranger things have happened, but if he DOES pitch well, I think they'll keep him out of the closer role, so they can use him as their top match-up lefty in the eighth, like Rafael Perez.