Earlier today we talked about the struggles of Grant Balfour this season and now Joe Maddon has announced that Balfour is no longer the closer and the team will instead use a bullpen-by-committee.
Maddon added that he wants Balfour to regain his confidence.
The irony of this move is that Balfour was Maddon’s first official “closer,” referring to the “c-word” when the team signed Balfour in the off-season.
“We’re actually going to use the C-word this year,” Maddon said when Balfour was re-introduced to the media.
Of course, the Rays almost always have a closer, but never as an official title. The feeling has long been that Maddon avoided the title because he wanted to be able to use his best pitchers in the most important spots and if that meant using somebody else in the ninth inning, it helped divert the questions and criticisms.
So why did Maddon change his stance this season? In all likelihood, it was a requirement for signing Balfour, or at least an enticement to get The Mad Australian to return.