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Having finally returned to the Colorado Rockies after recovering from an appendectomy, Rafael Betancourt will bring some order to a struggling bullpen. Manny Corpas was optioned to Triple-A to make room for the veteran reliever.
Rex Brothers is the best pitcher in the Rockies bullpen. He has electric stuff and he has worked through some kinks to find success in his temporary stints as closer (11 saves in 12 opportunities). He has also been pegged as the “closer of the future,” meaning that the Rockies are grooming him for the role with visions of great success in his future. With all of that being true, manager Walt Weiss still insists, once again, on making Betancourt the closer.
"He made one rehab appearance for Triple-A Colorado Springs before rejoining the Rockies. Manager Walt Weiss talked to Betancourt to determine his mental and physical state before making him closer again. Left-hander Rex Brothers, who has 11 saves in 12 chances, will return to the primary setup role.”"
"It gives us some flexibility with Rex. If it’s more of a left-handed inning, we can give it to Rex late as opposed to always having to wait for him to pitch at the end of the game.”"
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Of course Weiss never actually has to wait until the end of the game to use Brothers. Seeing him talk about having “flexibility” to use him against lefty’s means that Brothers is also available to face the opponents’ best hitters in the 7th or 8th inning, a decided benefit for the Rockies. That leads us, once again, to this question:
Shouldn’t that logically mean that, when Brothers is officially the team’s “closer,” the Rockies should still employ this flexibility and have him face the other team’s best hitters in the late innings, even if it’s not in the 9th inning?
Could this decision possibly lay the groundwork to use Brothers differently when he is the closer instead of holding rigid to the notion that CLOSERS MUST CLOSE AND ONLY CLOSE?
That’s not likely, as Weiss seems to subscribe to the line of thinking that the last three outs of the game are always the hardest to get, even if it means an inferior pitcher faces the heart of the order in the 8th so that Brothers is available to face the bottom of the order in the 9th. And of course in that scenario, if said inferior pitcher surrenders the lead then Brothers does not get a save opportunity, creating a scenario where your team potentially loses a close game while your best reliever sits and watches.
What we can hope is that some success with this model between now and the end of the year will persuade Weiss to adapt his philosophy when Brothers does take the reigns from Betancourt.
I sure it hope it does. What do you think, Rockies fans?