The Baltimore Orioles have a dedicated closer, like most teams in MLB, but why they continue using a dedicated closer makes little sense. The closer role is quickly becoming obsolete in the world of baseball. For whatever reason, it’s becoming harder and harder for relief pitchers to consistently close games in the ninth inning and for that reason, teams should stop asking their players to do something that they seemingly can’t do with much consistency.
A dedicated closer may work for some teams, but it doesn’t work for the Orioles.
Tommy Hunter, the Orioles’ closer, is currently 1-0 with an ERA of 4.40. But despite that less-than-stellar ERA, he still leads the league in saves with 11. Hunter has blown two saves so far this season, but that’s in large part due to luck. In 16 games so far this season, Hunter has yet to have a 1-2-3 inning. Let that sink in for a minute.
The only thing that Hunter has done consistently is put runners on base, and putting runners on base is a good way to give up runs, which in turn, results in blown saves. Those blown saves can easily turn into losses. Losses can result in missing the postseason. You get the point.
The Orioles have multiple relievers, including Hunter, who are more than capable of closing games. Darren O’Day is the best of the bunch, and if the Orioles are serious about having a dedicated closer, then they should have that man be O’Day. There are few relief pitchers in baseball who are as good as he is right now. In 15 games, the submarine pitcher has a 1-0 record with a miniscule ERA of only 0.64. He has also acted as the team’s backup closer, already converting a pair of saves in two chances.
Zach Britton is another guy who could help close games for Baltimore. So far, the lefty has a 3-0 record with an ERA of only 0.84 in 16 appearances out of the ‘pen. Ryan Webb doesn’t have the dazzling numbers that O’Day and Britton have, but he’s a guy that could close games too. After a slow start to the season, he’s beginning to adjust to the AL East. A sinkerball pitcher who strikes out 8.40 batters per nine innings is always a solid option at a hitter’s park like Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
So, let me ask you again, why are the Orioles delegating closing duties to only Hunter when there’s many guys already on the team that are more than capable of taking the pressure off of him. Nobody’s perfect, and that’s why the Orioles need to use a “closer by committee” instead of trusting one player.