Fellow Jonathan Broxton(notes) owners, there's no way to interpret Saturday's hold as a good thing. Our guy pitched the eighth, George Sherrill(notes) pitched the ninth. That's not the preferred order. Sherrill hasn't allowed a run – earned or unearned – in over a month. He's become a problem.
But the circumstances on Saturday were such that it made perfect sense for the most dominant reliever in the Dodgers' bullpen to pitch the eighth, so let's choose not to panic. For now. This was the scenario: With a runner on first, no one out and LA leading 2-0, the Cubs had the heart of their batting order due up. Broxton entered to face Milton Bradley(notes) (.221 vs. RHP), Derrek Lee(notes) and Aramis Ramirez(notes). He navigated the inning successfully without allowing a run. He struck out two. He was disturbingly effective.
Here's Bill Plaschke on Torre's logic, via the LA Times:
Torre said Broxton was a better bet in that situation, so he was brought into the game, thrilling all those baseball thinkers who believe that a closer should pitch the most important inning of the game, not necessarily the last inning of the game.
"After the game, Joe came up to me and said it was an eighth-inning save," Broxton said. "I believe him."
Major league managers have spent decades utilizing their relievers ridiculously – playing to the stat, not the situation – and Torre suddenly gets all reasonable in 2009, in Week 20. With your fantasy closer. It hardly seems fair…but it's not dumb. Expect more of the same if a similar situation arises over the remaining weeks.
Broxton didn't seem entirely thrilled after the game, but Torre had an answer for that: "If somebody gets offended by pitching to the 3-4-5 hitters in the eighth inning, they're not the person I think they are."
As long as Joe still thinks he's the closer, we're cool.
• Toronto activated Scott Downs(notes) (toe) from the disabled list, but his return to closing duties has not yet been scheduled. Don't launch Jason Frasor(notes) just yet. In fact, don't assume that Downs will close in 2010. Check the latest from MLB.com's Jordan Bastian:
Asked if Downs would be defined as "the closer" going into next spring, this is what manager Cito Gaston had to say:
"Probably not. We'll just wait and see. To say, 'Who's your closer?' and to try to see which one does a better job in Spring Training is a little tough to do."
• Billy Wagner(notes) has made an insanely quick recovery from elbow surgery, pitching a perfect inning last Thursday and striking out two batters (Brian McCann(notes) was one of 'em). His fastball reached 96 mph on the radar gun. You already know about Boston's waiver claim, and you probably already know that Wagner intends to close for somebody next year. (Washington? Florida? Chicago? Dunno). All that's left is for us to tell you that he'll likely have sneaky keeper value, though we don't yet know which team will employ him.
• It seems like Carlos Marmol(notes) inherited the Cubs' closing gig months ago, but no. On Sunday, he recorded his first save since taking over for Kevin Gregg(notes). Marmol struck out two and walked no one. Surprisingly enough, he hasn't walked a batter over his last five appearances.
Here's your minty goodness, saves chasers…
Photo via AP Images