Los Angeles Angels Should Keep Closer Role Vacant

By Martin Marrufo
Peter Aiken-US Presswire

How’s this for a familiar situation?

Zack Greinke went eight innings in his latest start, stifling the Texas Rangers offense and limiting them to only one run. Meanwhile, Texas Rangers starter Yu Darvish did the same, and the score in the ninth inning was a 1-1 tie.

The score did not hold for long. Los Angeles Angels closer Ernesto Frieri came in for Greinke in the ninth and promptly surrendered a two-run home run to Adrian Beltre, which won the game for Texas.

The last time Frieri relieved Greinke, it was against the Kansas City Royals. The Angels held a two-run lead, and Greinke was cruising. Frieri came in with one out and gave up two consecutive home runs to hand Kansas City the win.

While plenty of the blame rests on Frieri’s shoulders (not to mention their invisible offense), one has to wonder whether the Angels should even bother embracing the closer role at this point.

A quick look at the Angels’ bullpen shows the days of Francisco Rodriguez and Troy Percival are long gone. It seems no lead is safe when the Angels must make the call to the ‘pen. The only player on the team who has had success as a closer is Jason Isringhausen, and his play has waned with age.

So it seems almost insane that the Angels would go out of their way to name a closer. Frieri was certainly dazzling in his first few appearances in Angel red, but with two consecutive disastrous games under his belt, it’s safe to say he doesn’t deserve the job. Elsewhere in the ‘pen, no player has really stood out, save Jerome Williams. Williams, however, has proven to be much more successful in middle relief. In fact, he may be in the running for a starting job. Jordan Walden has already had a shot as closer, but his control tends to border on horrific.

Mike Scioscia may give other relievers a shot in the few games remaining in the regular season, or he may even stay with Frieri until it’s all over. With the Angels in a hole this late (4.5 games back in the Wild Card), Scioscia would do well to salvage some sort of winning formula as the Halos desperately try to muscle their way into the playoffs. Some new star may arise, but the Angels have to be on the lookout for a legitimate closer before next season.

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