Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The closer conundrum

Matt Capps (center)
retired two of the five
hitters he faced Tuesday.
Tuesday marked the third straight save opportunity that Matt Capps was unable to close out, and the second time that Glen Perkins had to trot in to seal the deal for the Twins.

Obviously, this cannot be allowed to continue. But the immediate alternatives to Capps as closer create other problems.

Joe Nathan is an obvious possibility -- but Ron Gardenhire has yet to use Nathan in consecutive games. As long as such ginger use is the rule for the post-surgical Nathan, it will be difficult to run the bullpen with an eye to getting him the ball for the ninth inning.

Perkins is another possibility -- but that creates a major void in the setup job, where Perkins is currently doing double duty, covering the eighth inning when Nathan's not available and serving as the top lefty as well.

If Jose Mijares were doing what he's supposed to be doing, Perkins wouldn't be so vital in the seventh and eighth innings. But Mijares hasn't pitched since June 27, and I assume that he's spent the past week trying to find and eliminate whatever flaw has robbed him of his command.

One way or another, the Twins need to get Capps straightened out, and soon. Their bullpen isn't sufficiently deep to allow them to hold him out of winnable games, especially if Mijares remains untrustworthy.

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