Tampa Bay going closer-by-committee

Andy Behrens
June 9, 2014
Miami Marlins v Tampa Bay Rays
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JUNE 5: Manager Joe Maddon #70 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on from the field before a moment of silence in honor of the late Don Zimmer, a senior baseball advisor for the Rays, before the start of a game against the Miami Marlins on June 5, 2014 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon has decided to go with a closer-by-committee arrangement, because closer-by-Balfour has not been particularly successful.

On Sunday, Grant Balfour allowed five runs in the ninth inning against the Mariners, spoiling a game that had been supremely well-pitched prior to his involvement. (To be fair, Balfour was thisclose to tossing a scoreless frame. He K'd the first two batters he faced, then reached 0-2 counts on two others.)

"He's our closer as of today," said Maddon of Balfour, shortly after the loss. But the manager added, "Even if I was going to change anything, I wouldn't tell you guys anyhow."

On Monday, after meeting with Balfour, Maddon announced the formation of the committee.

Jake McGee has unquestionably been the best reliever in the Rays' bullpen throughout the year (0.78 WHIP, 10.5 K/9), but he generally takes the seventh inning. Joel Peralta has been the primary eighth inning guy for Tampa, and he's pitched well since the early-May stumbles (zero runs allowed in 13 of his last 14 appearances). Juan Carlos Oviedo is clearly in the mix, since he had closing experience when he was a different guy (Leo Nunez), with a different UCL. And Brad Boxberger has been respectable, too (1.10 WHIP, 13.1 K/9).

So the Rays have options.

McGee should have been owned in your league already, because his innings are of the highest quality. However, McGee is only 11 percent owned in the Yahoo! universe as of this writing. Peralta is just six percent owned, and Oviedo one percent. I'm fairly sure that Jeff Erickson is the only Yahoo! user who currently owns Boxberger (ownership percentage: zero).

I'd make McGee my priority add simply because he's great, and Oviedo would be my next play. It really wouldn't be a huge surprise to see McGee and Peralta retain their established set-up roles.

If you're a Rays observer with a good read on the future of this 'pen, please share your thoughts in comments. Let's workshop this thing, gamers.