For Cincinnati Reds fans who suffered through the grand slam walk-off of a blown save surrendered by the temporary closer J.J. Hoover earlier this year, the sight of Jonathan Broxton taking the ball in the ninth inning in a save situation was a welcome one.
Broxton still doesn’t appear to be quite in the form he was when the Reds traded for him before the trade deadline in 2012, but he is most definitely an improvement over the closer-by-committee approach the Reds were forced to take in the absence of entrenched closer Aroldis Chapman.
Broxton missed about half of the 2013 season with a forearm injury that ultimately required surgery. His status for this year seemed largely up in the air and remains problematic, even though he is now the de facto closer. The Reds extended Broxton after the 2012 season with a whopping three-year deal for $21 million, presumably with the intent that Broxton would be the team’s closer while Chapman converted to the starting rotation.
Once Chapman was slotted to remain as closer to start 2013, the big contract seemed like overkill for a setup reliever on a small-market team like the Reds; but now that Chapman is out for the foreseeable future, the contract will look like money well spent if Broxton can continue to convert save opportunities.
Broxton’s first save chance of 2014 wasn’t a pretty one. He put two runners on and had the go-ahead run at the plate, but at least he didn’t implode. Broxton may lack the upper-90s fastball that once made him an elite closer earlier in his career, but he still is by far the best available alternative the Reds have until Chapman reclaims his closer job.