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Musings On Closing

I wrote the other day that given how well Mike Remlinger performed in a save situation on Saturday, that maybe he ought to be given the job.

John Hill wrote me from the UK to concur, and he provides me with some stats and analysis, which I share with you as we await tonight's matchup in Milwaukee:

Here are some statistics that back up the general consensus that Hawkins has struggled since he was made closer:
Hawkins before and including June 4 
(the date of Borowski's last appearance this year):
30.2 IP
1.47 ERA
0.75 WHIP
17 H (of which 3 HR, 2 2B), 6 BB

Hawkins after June 4: 
30.0 IP
3.90 ERA
1.37 WHIP
36 H (of which 6 HR, 8 2B), 5 BB

The walks have remained constant, but Hawkins is giving up a lot more hits and a lot more extra base hits as the closer, and as a result a lot more runs. In fact, outside of the troublesome bullpen situations in Colorado, Arizona, San Francisco and Montreal, not one closer in the National League has worse ERA and WHIP numbers than Hawkins has accumulated in his time as closer.

Remlinger on the other hand looked comfortable getting the save on Saturday, and even if he's no better than Hawkins as the closer, using Remlinger as the closer would at the very least allow, as you said yourself, Hawkins to revert to the setup role in which he excelled for two years in Minnesota and 30.2 innings at the start of this season here in Chicago. Remlinger has done well in middle relief this year, but Mercker, the criminally underused Leicester and the young Todd Wellemeyer (who I believe should be in the bullpen over Dempster) could easily cover his workload there.

As for Remlinger being a lefty, you may be interested in his splits for 2001-2003:
531 AB vs right, 186/280/290 
253 AB vs left, 277/335/455

Obviously, those splits are the wrong way around. He may have given up too many walks to right-handers, but when he did throw them strikes they sure had trouble hitting him. Lefties on the other hand didn't.

To confuse the issue, of course, this year Remlinger has held lefties to 216/262/324 in their 40 plate appearances against him, while continuing to enjoy success against right-handers when he's not walking them.

Of course, I cannot see Dusty doing it on the grounds he throws with his left-arm, or something like that, but I agree entirely with the idea of Remlinger as the closer, at least until the Joe Borowski of 2003 returns.

I couldn't have said it better than that. Thanks, John.