Everyone is up in arms (ha ha) over Joe Nathan's season-ending, if not career-ending, injury. While definitely a blow to the Twins chances, as Gleeman points out here, it's not the end of the world. Of course any blogger worth his or her stripes has put out an analysis of the Twins bullpen and who should be the closer. Jon Rauch is seen as the logical choice, however Francisco Liriano has emerged as a dark horse. I think everyone is on the same page that we want to limit the Crain wrecks to the 7th or 8th inning. And please let's leave the John Smoltz discussion at home.
In my opinion, a key to the Twins success this year is that Liriano is lights out for 200 innings, so unless he clearly demonstrates that he can't pitch for 6-7 innings, I don't want to see him in the bullpen. I'd love to see a bullpen by committee approach, at least early in the year. The role of the closer is kind of weird anyway. Sometimes the key inning to shut down your opponent is the 7th or 8th inning. Why should your best short-inning pitcher be limited to the 9th? Why not take a "Stopper" approach where your best pitcher is put out in the where the match-ups favor the pitcher. If the 4, 5, and 6 hitter are up in the 8th inning, I want my best bullpen pitcher out there. Save the 7, 8, and 9 hitters for someone else.
Unfortunately Gardenhire seems to take a more traditional stand in his managerial duties and I am guessing he will go with one designated closer. Probably Jon Rauch until the wheels come off. However he and the Twins may be better served by a Stopper approach and not the traditional Closer approach.
What do you think?