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The Braves may split the closer’s job

Feb 7, 2011, 2:30 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals v Atlanta Braves Getty Images

With Billy Wagner‘s presumed retirement — and I say “presumed,” simply because he hasn’t filed his paperwork yet; he’s retiring — the assumption has been that Craig Kimbrel will take over the closer duties in Atlanta. He did so in the NLDS after Wagner’s injury, and he’s been groomed to close for a while now.

However, Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez suggested today that Kimbrel and Jonny Venters might share closing duties this season.

With all apologies to fantasy baseball players in need of some saves from guys no one likely kept from last year’s league, I like the idea.  Kimbrel has the stuff to close against anyone I think, but he is still young and is still likely to have some issues with control that have always been his biggest weakness.  Venters, on the other hand, is not exactly a lefty specialist. He was even harder on righties last year than he was lefties and could easily close games himself.

Why put so much pressure on one young guy?  Keep them both fresh. Have them both ready to setup or close depending on the matchups and how they’re throwing and how they’re feeling at any given time.  Some people may squawk that there isn’t one anointed closer, but who cares?

  1. gerryb323 - Feb 7, 2011 at 2:49 PM

    And don’t turn one of them into a $10 million closer. Keep both arbitration values down. Harder to track for fantasy purposes, but seems practical.

  2. scatterbrian - Feb 7, 2011 at 3:05 PM

    What season did Boston attempt their Closer by Committee? I’ve always felt that type of bullpen management could be done effectively, provided you had the right manager and pitchers to do so. I seem to remember it failed initially and was scrapped, but I’ve wanted to look back to see if it was actually less of a failure and more of an overreaction from an impatient media and fan base.

    • gerryb323 - Feb 7, 2011 at 3:15 PM

      That was ’03. The Sox traded for Byung-Hyun Kim and eventually converted him (back) to closing half-way through as the committee approach wasn’t working. Interestingly, Brandon Lyon was one of their failed “closers” that year.

      • scatterbrian - Feb 7, 2011 at 3:46 PM

        Thanks gb

  3. Mr. Jason "El Bravo" Heyward - Feb 7, 2011 at 3:08 PM

    I like the idea in theory.

  4. spudchukar - Feb 7, 2011 at 3:24 PM

    This makes a lot of sense. Especially entering the season. A little competition, less pressure, better match-ups, and one of the two can always capture the closer role if their performance warrants it later in the season.

  5. seeingwhatsticks - Feb 7, 2011 at 3:40 PM

    Because this approach has always worked out for the Braves historically.

  6. baseballisboring - Feb 7, 2011 at 4:49 PM

    agreed. i mean, you’d rather have venters out there if utley and howard are coming up in the 9th, right?

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