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AL Central: The Big Borowski
That's about the time I'm guessing it took Chicago's Alex Cintron to tag up and score from third on a meaningless sacrifice fly in the ninth inning of the White Sox-Indians season opener.
And those are the only four seconds Joe Borowski has sported an ERA of less than 5.00 this season.
In that first appearance of the season, the Big Borowski allowed the first two runners to reach, leading to Gustavo Molina's sac fly. From the time the ball nestled in the glove of left fielder David Delucci to the moment Cintron crossed home plate, Cleveland's closer had a sparkling 0.00 earned-run average.
Since then, scientific notation has almost been needed to track his ERA. It was over 10.00 for a week in April, though he notched saves in all three of his opportunities during that time. It wasn't lowered below 6.00 until June 28, though that came on the heels of 10 straight converted saves. It's now 5.68, with Borowski recently pitching four straight days and tallying three saves and a win.
Though his ERA and WHIP (1.55) are both second-worst (to Todd Jones) among the 18 closers who have at least 15 saves, Borowski's 24 saves are tied for third-best in the majors and match Cleveland's save output from all of 2006. He's only blown two all season (but a third he lost after entering with a lead of more than three runs).
Not bad for the team's fourth-best reliever.
While Borowski has largely succeeded in the closer's primary role of not losing ballgames for the Indians, manager Eric Wedge should consider thinking outside the classic roles of his bullpen. In Aaron Fultz and Rafael Perez, Cleveland has two exceptional lefties, and in Rafael Betancourt has been a remarkably reliable setup man. In 33 outings and 35.2 innings, Betancourt has yet to allow more than one run in any appearance (1.26 ERA) and has yielded only three walks and one home run this season.
But as the folks at IndiansInk.net point out, Wedge is often too rigid about how he uses his relievers. Betancourt is his generally only his eighth-inning reliever, and that nearly cost Cleveland last night. Granted, Borowski was unavailable, Fultz is on the disabled list and Wedge wanted to use Betancourt as late in the game as possible, but the Devil Rays trailed only by one run with the bases loaded and just one out. Though Perez bailed out Wedge, it seemed like a natural time for Betancourt and his steady control.
The Big Borowski insists that he's in great shape and will hold up this season, but he is 36 years old. It's hard to argue with Cleveland's success this season -- entering tonight's series opener in Detroit, the Indians sport a five-game winning and a two-game divisional lead -- but Wedge might be best served being a little more flexible with how he uses his 'pen.
Labels: AL Central
posted by SI.com | View comments |
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