Grant Balfour Should Get a Call

May 29, 2008 at 10:28 am 1 comment

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(Al Behrman/AP)

Grant Balfour, gifted with easy mid-90s velocity, was the odd man out in his quest to crack the Rays bullpen out of spring training. He was out of options but accepted an assignment to Triple-A Durham in hopes of making the Rays squad later in the year. If Troy Percival is placed on the DL Balfour should be the one who gets a call.

Balfour has owned, and I mean owned Triple-A hitters this season. In 23.2 Innings pitched he has 39 strikeouts against 10 walks and an ERA of 0.38. He also has 8 saves. That’s just one earned run allowed. He hasn’t even allowed an unearned run. The most striking stat is that he has only allowed 5 hits. Opponents are hitting .067 against him and his only run allowed was a solo homerun.

There was never any question about his ability to miss bats. In 92.7 major league innings he has 104 strikeouts. His problem has always been that he misses the strike zone too often. With 10 free passes in 23.2 Triple-A innigs it appears he hasn’t gotten much better but the fact that he is unhittable when he is near the zone should get him a call if Percival goes down.

At the age of 29 he is still in his prime but unlikely to change his approach but if he can make a slight adjustment and get on top of his breaking pitches he can be a dominate big league reliever not just in Percival’s absence but for a couple years.

-Jonathan C. Mitchell

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