One of the biggest questions amongst Milwaukee Brewers fans after the organization signed reliever Francisco Rodriguez to a one-year, $3.25 million on Friday was if Jim Henderson would remain the closer for the team in 2014.
It’s a valid question, especially since K-Rod holds the Major League record for most saves in a single season. Rodriguez accomplished the feat when he recorded 62 saves in 2008 with the Los Angeles Angels.
Even though Rodriguez has set the benchmark for closers going forward, it happened six years ago. There’s no guarantee he will be able to put forth that kind of performance again, although he did record 10 saves for Milwaukee last season.
The reality is the Brewers are comfortable with Henderson in the ninth-inning role. More importantly, he’s done nothing to show he shouldn’t keep the job.
“Henderson is still our closer, but it gives us depth to have another guy,” Brewers general manager Doug Melvin said, according to the team’s website. “Today’s game, we don’t get complete games from starting pitchers. You always need bullpen. We always try to put our sights at [winning] 90 games, and you can’t just have one guy [closing] if you want to do that.”
Basically, Henderson will start the year out as the closer, rightfully so. The right-hander posted 28 saves in 32 opportunities, which was far better than what John Axford supplied the team after his record-setting performance in 2011. However, if Henderson falters and decides to become Axford 2.0, don’t be surprised to see Rodriguez be implemented into the closer role.
The Brewers believe they have a legitimate shot at a playoff berth in 2014. They have no intention on destroying those chances because the closer couldn’t hold up his end of the bargain, like what happened with Axford in 2012.