The Cardinals aren’t the only team that’s scrambling for a ninth-inning solution. Major League Baseball has a closer problem, and if anything it’s getting worse instead of better. The system of relying on one primary reliever to handle save situations is entrenched, and I doubt that we’ll see a radical change anytime soon. The question is, why? General managers and managers have boxed themselves in and left their teams increasingly vulnerable by depending on a solitary closer to seal away leads and clinch victories. The web site MLB Depth Charts runs a daily closer update on its paid-subscription page. Depending on the consistency of success in protecting ninth-inning leads, each team’s closer is placed in one of five categories: Lockdown, Strong, Solid, Shaky, and Thin Ice. Only five of the 30 teams have “lockdown” closers: the Yankees, Braves, Reds, Phillies and Giants. Eight others have “strong” closers: the Rockies, Orioles, White Sox, Padres, Nationals, Mariners, Rays and Rangers. Nine teams have “solid” closers: the Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Indians, Astros, Angels, Pirates, Twins, A’s and Blue Jays.
Solitary closer not always the best option
St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Apr 22