BY: John Mamola
It has been a rough season for Tampa Bay Rays closer Grant Balfour after signing a two-year deal with the Rays this past off season replacing Fernando Rodney who signed with the Seattle Mariners. Balfour accomplished great success moving into the closing role for the Oakland Athletics during the 2012 campaign where he racked up 62 saves over the past two seasons with an ERA below 2.60 each year.
However this season Balfour has racked up a 6.46 ERA, a 1.65 WHIP, and 21/20 K/BB ratio in 23 and two-thirds innings. Now the questions have begun to surround if Rays manager Joe Maddon will make a change in the closer role with Jake McGee off to a great start this season. MLB.com columnist Richard Justice joined WDAE’s “The Sports Page” and discussed what Maddon could do with Balfour moving forward.
“I talked to a couple scouts about Grant (Balfour). His velocity is down, he’s throwing more sliders and less curveballs, a lot more ground balls,” said Justice. “When a guy is giving up a lot of ground ball hits that tells you maybe it’s not as bad as it seems. But it does seem bad and maybe he needs a mental day.”
Justice remarked that maybe even a day off wouldn’t be enough for Balfour because he is such a tough minded type of player.
“I can’timagine removing him for a day is going to help anything, but on the other hand when a guy is struggling you don’t want to punish the other 24 players.”
Justice believes whatever Joe Maddon decides to do with the closer role will be the right choice as he believes Maddon is one of the best in baseball at making tough calls during tough times. The MLB.com columnist believes that although things do not look good right now for the Rays, he says there is at least one big run left in the club this season.
Photo Courtesy Of Getty Images