Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Borowski hits DL; who's next?

Joe Borowski makes me nervous.

Every time Dusty Baker handed him the ball during that magical 2003 Cubs run, Chicago fans didn't just hold their collective breath, they had oxygen masks standing by.

But as dramatic as Big Joe can make things in the 9th, he converted 33 of 38 save chances, including 13 in a row. And Cubs fans loved the guy with the Polish-sounding name.

That is, until he failed.

Five years later, enter the city of Cleveland, who by most accounts are pulling for the 36-year-old to succeed, but it appears the mystical dust may be gone after last season's 46-save, .5.07-ERA wonder.

After Monday night's meltdown against Boston and Manny Ramirez, his second in a week, Borowski's ERA sits at a cool 18.00, leaving Indians fans to wonder if Borowski's root meaning is blown save.

For those wondering, what's wrong, join the club. A big problem is his velocity is in the low-80s, which almost qualifies Borowski as a knuckleballer or a guy at a carnival.

The Indians' worries were justified today, as Borowski has been diagnosed with a strained right triceps and has already been put on the DL.

For proof, click on walkoff Torii Hunter's grand slam last week in Anaheim, specifically how Borowski hangs it over the plate like leftover lasagna, and you start to agree, something's not right.

So, with Borowski on the shelf, who's next in line for the Indians' closer job.

On the surface, Rafael Betancourt looks like the odds-on favorite. Betancourt (1.47/0.76) had three times as good of numbers as Borowski as the Indians 2007 setup guy, but 2008 hasn't been as kind (5.14/1.71), after giving up a solo shot to Kevin Youkilis Monday night.

But even with Betancourt's struggles, he should be in the mix at first, however, don't count out Masahide Kobayashi (not the hot-dog-eating Kobayashi), who has 200-plus saves in Japan.

Another guy to stash, if those two guys are missing from the wire, is Rafael Perez, the lefty who also had a dazzling 2007 (1.78/0.92) and held batters to a .187 batting average. Perez has had one bad outing, giving up a 3-run shot to Oakland's Bobby Crosby on Saturday, but he closed out the 9th on Monday, striking out J.D. Drew.

Perez also has a far better strikeout rate than either Borowski or Kobayashi.

The Indians would rather not have to decide.

They still want Joe B. to come back strong and be their man, just like all Cub fans did.

But in a city with expectations, sometimes you're only as good as your last pitch.


Anonymous said...

The other person I can't figure out how he gets any saves is Todd Jones.

Got your taxes done???