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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Tale Of Two Closers

On Sunday, two of the National League's most prominent closers had blown saves, but only one of them really suffered the slings and arrows of their fans: Rodriguez pitched two innings and got the win, while Broxton took a loss. But what's funny to me is that both have similar career WHIP, K/9, and K/BB rates:


It occurs to me that the main if not primary difference between these players is really that one of them has been in a World Series, and had success, while the other one hasn't. Notably, Broxton melted down in front of these same Cardinals in last year's NLCS Game 4, which, as Jon pointed out earlier in the week, basically screwed him out of a lot of postseason ERA. But what surprised me most was reviewing K-Rod's postseason gamelog; he coughed up two runs to the Yankees in 2002 ALDS Game 2 on a single to Raul Mondesi (remember when he was good, or even still in baseball?) and a homer to Alfonso Soriano in his very first postseason appearance. Staked to protect a 4-3 lead, he instead reversed the situation, and was on the hook for a loss... until the Angels hit a pair of homers and a sac fly to put three runs on the board against El Duque for a lead they wouldn't relinquish.

A similar story occurs in K-Rod's 2002 ALCS Game 5, where he entered the proceedings in the seventh with the bases loaded and one out. He then allowed all his inherited baserunners to score, giving the Twins a 5-3 edge. That, of course, was about to be forgotten as the Twins brought in Johan Santana to pitch in relief. The subsequent seven-run inning — including Adam Kennedy's third home run of the game, a feat that would add his name to the list of all-time Angels postseason heroes — would immediately erase Rodriguez' failure to perform.

The pattern repeats itself in his World Series Game 6 performance, allowing Kenny Lofton to score on a wild pitch, a long solo homer to Barry Bonds that ended in the right-field tunnel, and an RBI single to Jeff Kent. Again, the offense bailed him out: between Scott Spiezio's three-run blast and the eighth inning heroics from Darin Erstad and Troy Glaus, his failures were rather quickly forgotten.

My point being, I wasn't particularly sad to see K-Rod go when the Angels let him walk in free agency, as he had a track record of erratic postseason performance (to go along with his regular-season performances). Broxton is in much the same boat — only minus the offensive support.

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