Concerning "closer". Dominguez and Hand, etc..

I'm interested in clearing up a distinction of terms/semantics.

There seem to be some - that think that the bullpen "closer" is a term equivalent "top gun reliever".

But closer is a technical term related to a strategy of using relievers.

I don't consider it a slam on Seranthony Dominguez when I say I don't want him to be our closer. In fact I think he's the best reliever we have.

A closer is a relief pitcher that

  • is EXCLUSIVELY used to preserve wins - that is - they only go in when the team has a lead
  • is EXCLUSIVELY used in the expected final inning game - and only for one inning or less
  • is never used for more than an inning (or maybe an inning and a batter/out at the most) so that they might be used to close two consecutive games (maybe)

To some extent - you can't really have two closers - because you can't afford to protect two relievers from all of the other situations to just pitch in these situations and the closer strategy is supposed to trump lefty/righty matchup platooning - the closer is supposed to be good enough to do that.

The closer is not used in all "high leverage situations". In fact the "closer" strategy implies protecting the closer from having runs scored against them as possible by not putting them into dangerous situations. The idea behind the closer is that when the team has the lead going into the ninth - the closer comes into "finish them off" and if the closer is very often successful at doing that - the other team will experience some let down when the "closer" comes in. It is in part, the reputation of the closer (bolstered by statistics) that helps the closer "shut down" the opponent - you are losing, you don't have momentum, you are facing our "closer".

My argument is that Brad Hand and Corey Knebel - at the current time - represent better "closers" than Dominguez - and not because they are better relievers - they aren't.

Hand is an experienced reliever with a reputation for getting hitters out. However, he does not pitch as well from the stretch with runners on. You can say the same for Knebel. So as "definitional closers" - they would usually come in at the start of an inning where all that is needed is to get three outs to win the game. And although I know both pitchers have driven fans crazy by not doing this - they have done it many times.

Seranthony Dominguez is as of this month/week/whatever perhaps a more effective relief pitcher than either Hand or Knebel. But he is less effected by the situation oor pitching from the stretch. Dominguez could potentially be more valuable pitching in situations where the game is in danger of getting away and turning from a competitive game into a high loss probability game. Down one run, tied, or up one or two runs, but our pitcher has two on base and only one or no outs and is losing the confidence. If not handled well - this situation goes from a game we are in to a high loss probability game in a hurry.

Dominguez might also be used in a close game in the 7th when say - the Nationals have Soto, Nellie, & Bell coming to bat - knowing that past them the hitters are of a much lower quality and if we shut them down we may not have to face them again (or as I suggested over the weekend whenever Soto comes to bat and runners are on the bases and anyone of our pitchers not named Wheeler or Nola is pitching in any inning, I'd like to have them insert Seranthony and then figure it out). Seranthony Dominguez is the kind of pitcher who can go and turn a loss into a win - by never letting it become a high loss probability situation.

It's easy to say - just let Dominguez do both! But that's not the closer strategy. The closer can't be a closer and come into some games in the 5th or 7th to bail out a starter or long man in trouble. They aren't the closer at that point because the team isn't using a closer strategy.

It's okay not to use a closer strategy - we can just say "let's let Thomson use the best guy for each situation". Last year the team really didn't have a closer and didn't use the strategy. This year Girardi started the season using Knebel as a closer. If we don't use that strategy we can go to another strategy. The if you are using the closer strategy the closer is only a closer.

It's inappropriate use of terms to say we don't want to use a closer strategy but we want to pin a "closer" honorarium badge on Dominguez. We are using the closer strategy or we aren't.