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Is this the new Rays closer?

On Friday, the Rays broke the bad news that Brad Boxberger would miss a good chunk of the regular season after needing surgery to repair a muscle in his abdomen.

The initial report estimated that Boxberger would miss eight weeks. However, as we noted earlier, that estimate is really just a guess at this point and there are legitimate reasons to be worried that it could be longer.

With Boxberger out and Jake McGee gone, attention now turns to figuring out who will take the ball in the ninth inning with a lead, and the initial signs are not very encouraging.

According to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times, Matt Silverman and the Rays will look to add a reliever, but most likely only for depth and not to be the closer. That means, for the first 6+ weeks of the season, the Rays will turn to somebody already on the roster.

One of the most likely candidates is the only pitcher the Rays now have with any legit experience as a closer — Danny Farquhar, who had 18 saves in three seasons with the Mariners including 16 in the 2013 season.

As Topkin notes, using Farquhar as the closer is a bit worrisome because before Boxberger’s injury, Farquhar wasn’t even a lock to make the team. Now he might be the most important reliever on the roster.

Of course, if Joe Maddon was manager, he would shut this all down by just saying the Rays won’t use a closer and it would just be all hands on deck. But this new era of the Rays now seems to embrace the more traditional roles of the bullpen as most pitchers prefer to know what their role is ahead of time.

With the American League seemingly wide open this season, getting off to a good start could be more important than ever. The Rays are going to have to do that with a replacement-level pitcher protecting the lead late in games.

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2 Comments

  1. Rob says:

    I predict Colome steps up and Boxy loses his job permanently.

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  2. angry buddha says:

    ...replacement level when he got here. But with 2 months of Jim Hickey, he's now a lights-out master of all things 9th inning.

    [It's spring. All news is good news.]

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