The Oakland Athletics could not have asked for much more from closer Grant Balfour this season. He has been dominant throughout and is a huge reason why the team is sitting atop the American League West standings. With that being said, the team cannot afford to watch Balfour falter down the stretch, especially when they will need his arm in order to make a solid postseason run.
The right-hander has given up six earned runs in his last 4 2/3 innings of work. It is true that he has recorded a save in four of those five contests, including four straight, but the earned runs are still discouraging. What directly relates to the surrendered runs is the fact that Balfour cannot keep men off the bases. He has allowed five walks and seven hits over the span.
The good news is the Athletics are not worried at all. They understand that no one is perfect as it is nearly impossible to have a flawless season as a relief pitcher. At this point, the organization has to be thrilled that Balfour is hitting his rough patch now so that he can get it out of the way for the final haul.
“Granted, his stuff might not have been as crisp as we’ve seen earlier in the year, but there are going to be periods in time when guys struggle a little bit and it’s not only just the closer,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said, according to Athletics.com. “It’s more magnified, as I’ve said before, when it is the closer because he’s the last line of defense. But everybody’s going to go through periods where they struggle some during the course of the season.”
Balfour is 0-3 with a 2.59 earned run average, 62 strikeouts and 37 saves in 58 appearances in 2013.