Time for Maddon to Replace Percival

September 11, 2008 at 12:39 pm 2 comments

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I have been wanting to write this article for a while now but something inside me wanted to believe I was wrong. I wanted to believe Troy Percival was okay. I wanted to believe he could close the door on a game since coming off the DL. His back was ailing him this time. What’s next? I can’t believe it anymore. Percival is not the same pitcher and Maddon has to re-order his bullpen.

After watching an amazinf game last night that saw a 1-1 tie go into the 14th inning, Carlos Pena hit a 3-run homer to give the Rays a 3 run lead. Enter Percival. Now, I am not a guy who thinks a 3-run save is a big deal and that the closer role is a key role but there is some mental aspect to closing a game rather than coming in the 7th inning.

Percival, with a 3 run cushion in a game that was 1-1 for over 13 innings, should have had easy save but he had to make it interesting. He gave up a lead off double then looked like he was pitching around the next two hitters, never throwing a ball near the plate, never challenging the hitter with a 3-run lead. He didn’t look right.

With the bases loaded Joe Maddon made the right move and pulled Percival. The best reliever available was mop-up man Jason Hammel. All Hammel did was get a fly out to right, then a strikeout, throwing 3 beautiful sliders, then a flyout to center. He got the job done only allowing a sac fly that was charged to Percival.

Back to Percival. He has been dreadful of late. Since coming off the DL he has allowed 7 runs on 5 hits, 5 walks, and 2 homers in only 2.1 innings. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Since May 8th of this year he has pitched 30.1 innings (he has 41.1 all year) and has allowed 25 hits, 22 walks, 9 homers, and 23 earned runs. Not exactly your ace reliever.

The Rays should get rid of the 7th/8th/9th inning reliever crap and put their best reliever agains the best hitters. If the 3/4/5 guys in the lineup come up in the 7th then the “closer” should come in. Isn’t the guy who gets those hitters out more valuable than a guy who gets the save in the 9th inning against the 7/8/9 hitters? Maddon should re-order the reliever depth chart and place Grant Balfour at the top and put Percival in situations he can flourish, which would be when the game is not on the line.


Rays Index speculates that David Price might start a Major League game on September 23rd.

Marc Lancaster reports that Evan Longoria should be ready for Friday’s game after taking 30 swings. He indicated that he might play a rehab game in Durham too.

Howard Bryant over at ESPN.com has a good, long article on the Rays learning about themselves during their 3 game trip to Fenway.

R.J. Anderson has a velocity breakdown of the 3 Rays starters in the Rays/Red Sox series. Pretty interesting.

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Brenton  |  September 12, 2008 at 6:17 pm

    I thought I was the only one who wanted the complete replacement of Percival as the closer. Now I feel better about myself.

    I’m not big on the “closer by committee” idea, but I think Wheeler and Balfour can both do it at this point. If one becomes unavailable for a game, just slide the other in. They’re different types of pitchers, but that’s the way it should be. They compliment each other well.

    Percival had a 1.80 ERA as a middle/setup reliever last year. Maybe he should stick to that, he and Bradford (and Price when he’s called up). Balfour has proven himself worthy and Wheeler is perfectly qualified to close.

  • 2. Jonathan C. Mitchell  |  September 12, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    Glad to hear there is another like me out there that thinks clearly! Haha!

    I honestly don’t think it matters who finishes the game as long as the best relievers face the best hitters. We need to be in matchups that favor us and give us an advantage.

    I too like the idea of having different looks out of the pen and the combos you mentioned are just that.

    Also, nice blog you have. I’ll add it to my blog roll.

    Thanks for the comment!


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