Terry Francona continues to show how intelligent of a manager he is for the Cleveland Indians. He has taken the job of closer away from Chris Perez and rightfully so. It’s a move that many managers wouldn’t make this time of the season because they don’t want to upset the system they’ve developed all year.
Such a thought is nonsense.
There should not be an automatic closer on any team should that particular pitcher get into trouble. Jim Leyland of the Detroit Tigers almost cost his team the MLB American League pennant last season when he stubbornly inserted Jose Valverde into the closer’s role and wouldn’t yank him despite signs that Valverde couldn’t get the job done. Not until disaster struck in the 2012 American League playoffs against the New York Yankees did Leyland finally determine he needed to look for another closer.
Francona has seen enough of Perez and has decided he will use other pitchers to fill that gap. He said he might still use Perez as the closer in the playoffs, should the Indians qualify, but he should think twice of that.
Perez has lost his effectiveness. That was evident Thursday when he nearly blew the Indians victory in a 6-5 win over the Minnesota Twins. He allowed four runs on four hits and the Indians survived, but barely. Had Perez lost the game, the Indians might not be contending for the playoffs right now.
For this season, Francona should find other roles for Perez but not as the closer. He can worry about that next spring training. Right now, Francona’s main concern is extending the Indians’ season as long a possible. So that means no more games with Chris Perez as closer.