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If Orioles don’t bring in new closer, Tommy Hunter the “clear favorite” to take over for Jim Johnson

Dec 21, 2013, 7:15 PM EDT

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The Orioles’ closer situation is well-publicized at this point, considering their signing-then-unsigning of Grant Balfour was in the headlines for a while, and we also learned they have talked with the Phillies about Jonathan Papelbon and have shifted their focus to free agent Fernando Rodney as well. MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports that, if the Orioles aren’t able to grab a new closer from outside the organization, Tommy Hunter would be the “clear favorite” to take over the closer’s role.

Hunter has been used as a starter for the vast majority of his career, starting 75 of 98 games in which he had appeared entering the 2013 season. However, in 2013, the Orioles used him as a full-time reliever with good results. Hunter posted a 2.81 ERA in 68 relief outings spanning 86.1 innings of work, striking out 68 and unintentionally walking 13.

  1. blynch67 - Dec 21, 2013 at 7:24 PM

    It’s nice to be able to anoint your next closer, but it doesn’t always go according to the script.

    Quality closers are a pretty rare breed, IMHO.

    btw, I just though of a funny…
    Back in the good old days, (porn movie reference coming up), you WANTED to face the ‘closer’, unlike MLB today, lol

  2. theinconvienenttruth - Dec 21, 2013 at 7:28 PM

    Yes and though many O’s fans wouldn’t mind him being the new closer considering what has happened in the past couple days, there are some things that are worrisome. LHBs torch him and he gives up a lot of homeruns. Other than that, he doesn’t walk batters and his strikeout rate is great, he’s the opposite of Jim Johnson. I would rather see the O’s grab another guy for the 7th/8th and that could be a lefty.

  3. plmathfoto - Dec 21, 2013 at 7:33 PM

    I’ve heard reports from the Orioles’ brass that Hunter can’t be used 2 or 3 days in a row, that’s why they don’t want to use him as a closer.

  4. jhorton83 - Dec 21, 2013 at 7:38 PM

    This could work. Tommy Hunter has the Kenny Powers frame to be a closer.

  5. bmoreravens1012013 - Dec 21, 2013 at 7:49 PM

    Until Peter Angelos takes his grubby , greedy, incompetent hands off this franchise. ….the Orioles will continue to be perennial losers. Two seasons ago was an aberration. 90% of the fans in Baltimore can’t stand him and I know because I was born and raised here and Im a lifelong Orioles fan unfortunately.

  6. mmeyer3387 - Dec 21, 2013 at 8:15 PM

    While I have and never will be a Angelos fan. He is a cheap owner and has been know to be a melding owner in the past that gets involved at times when he should not. That being said, I do think that the Orioles will put a good team on the field. But they need a consistent closer to win in the east. This factor makes the closer role is very concerning, I’m not convinced that hunter is a quality closer. I know that he has flashed talent, but his numbers against lefties isn’t very good. The Orioles should just signed Johnson. Of course everyone can see that now. They need to cut their loses and move on and sign Rodney.

  7. dylanthom2013 - Dec 22, 2013 at 9:54 PM

    The problem with Hunter as a closer is he’s a flyball pitcher (GB:FB of .97 in ’13) who gives up a lot of HR’s for a reliever – ’13 HR/FB of 10.9% compared to say Joe Nathan @ 3%.

    Maybe Rodney’ll work out but he has had only one season (’12) out of 10 where his BB/9 rate was less than 3.48. He’s not Carlos Marmol-wild but he’s close. His BB/9 last year was 4.86. Combine that with hits allowed and that’s a lot of baserunners allowed for a closer.

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