Brian Fuentes to remain the Angels' closer ... for now
Despite another spectacular ninth-inning meltdown, in which he gave up three runs and three hits while blowing a save against the Tampa Bay Rays Monday night, Brian Fuentes will remain the Angels' closer, Manager Mike Scioscia said Tuesday.
"We all feel strongly about what the best look for our bullpen is," Scioscia said. "We need guys to set up, to close, and we want to give this [alignment] time to develop. All of our arms are important for us to shorten games. We'll shuffle the deck if we have to, but right now, we feel the way these guys are lined up now gives us our best look. It's a little premature to make wholesale changes."
A wholesale change doesn't seem necessary, though. The logical move would be to make hard-throwing setup man Fernando Rodney, the former Detroit Tigers closer who is 3-0 with a 2.87 earned-run average, the closer and move Fuentes, who has a 7.04 ERA and has converted four of six save opportunities, to a setup role.
Most Angels fans would go a step further and demote Fuentes to a seventh-inning role, or even the role of left-handed specialist, and make hard-throwing right-hander Kevin Jepsen the primary eighth-inning man.
Fuentes moved back and forth between closing and setup roles with the Colorado Rockies with no considerable drop in effectiveness, so it would seem he would be able to handle such a demotion.
But if Fuentes' psyche is fragile and a demotion shatters his confidence, he would be of little use to the Angels.
"That is part of the equation, but a small part," Scioscia said. "If a guy is just unable to close games, if it's apparent he's not going to be able to get it done, you might lose a guy. But you have to look at what's best for the team and what's best for the bullpen as a whole. For the welfare of the team, you hope to get a guy in that role who does the job."