Baseball Toaster Bad Altitude
2008-04-24 10:14
by Mark T.R. Donohue

Manny Corpas is out as closer and Brian Fuentes is in after the bullpen blew its fourth game in a row last night. I can't begin to explain how miserable this is. A season after they supposedly broke out of irrelevance for good, the Rockies are burying themselves in April, the way they do every year (including last season!) and as a fan I feel powerless. What can you do with a team that suddenly loses its ability to finish out ballgames? I'm hoping that the relevant comparison here is the road trip at midseason '07 where Fuentes initially lost his closer's job to Corpas. Colorado had one road trip where they just couldn't get a save and then the trip ended and the team started functioning properly again.

Were I Clint Hurdle, I wouldn't employ such a basic strategy as taking away the ninth inning from one guy and handing it to another one guy. I think when times are as tough as they are for the Rockies bullpen right now you have to play matchups. Fuentes is every bit as likely as Corpas to give Colorado fans heartburn in the final innings, despite a hot start. Making Fuentes the designated finisher also robs Hurdle of Brian's born ability as a lefthanded matchup guy. The way I would play it is to have Fuentes take the mound when there's a string of lefties coming up and otherwise play the hot hand between Matt Herges, Corpas, and Taylor Buchholz. Rather than wrecking Corpas's confidence by 
"demoting" him and possibly Fuentes' as well the first time he can't hold a lead, Clint could be bolstering everyone's mood by sharing the wealth around a little bit. After Corpas has a few good innings under controlled conditions, I'd give him back the closer's job -- with the caveat that Fuentes is still going to get the call when dangerous lefthanders loom. Of course that would be modern and progressive and askew from modern baseball conventional wisdom. It'll never happen.

Will it cost the Rockies more games? That remains to be seen. In any event, I'm going out to the ballpark again today. Hopefully the team will have more luck against my hometown Cubs than they have in the recent past.

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