Everyone likes to speculate who would get the last out of the World Series, but very few like to talk about who gets the last out of game 2 of the NLDS. However, that is the problem the Dodgers are currently looking at due to the fact that the acquisition of Craig Kimbrel has not panned out the way that it was envisioned, eventually leading to Kimbrel’s demotion from the closer’s role. This now leaves the Dodgers in a precarious position for the current postseason run.
This begs the question: who is going to be the closer for the Dodgers this postseason?
The first of three candidates we’ll be taking a look at today is Blake Treinen. While he was just added to the NLDS and only pitched 5 games this year, that does not mean we should discount Treinen’s candidacy. In his three years with the Dodgers Treinen has been spectacular. He has 7.6 H/9, 0.6 HR/9, 3.0 BB/9, 1.227 WHIP, and 9.9 K/9. On top of that, his baseball savant page in 2020 and 2021 is nothing but red circles – which (of course) is the only factor that determines who is a good pitcher.
However, health is a big factor for Treinen. Dave Roberts has said that Treinen is not available on back-to-back nights this postseason. That may end up being huge if the Dodgers find themselves in a lot of close games. There is no doubt in his ability, that slider, sinker, cutter combo is deadly. It is just a question of how much he can pitch this October.
Our next candidate is a bit of an odd one, Chris Martin. However, given that he closed out Game 1 of the NLDS last night, he should be considered a leading candidate. Since coming to the Dodgers at the deadline Martin has been nothing short of a virtuoso. He has a 4.4 H/9, 0.4 HR/9, 0.4 BB/9, 0.527 WHIP, and 12.4 K/9 in 24.2 innings pitch. In short, Martin does not have a hole in his game since coming to LA, but there is a problem. When he was in Chicago, Martin was both hit (10.9 H/9) and hit hard (1.4 HR/9), and while he has made improvements in Los Angeles, there is some concern that “Chicago Martin” may rear his ugly head again. However, that should not discount his performance in LA. He has the traits of an elite closer in his time with LA, and that may be what they need.
Our final candidate is the most obvious one, Brusdar Graterol. It’s easy to see why: his fastball is mesmerizing, having both velocity and movement. His stats aren’t half bad either. Graterol has a 7.1 H/9, 0.5 HR/9, 1.8 BB/9, 0.987 WHIP, and 7.8 K/9. The concern with Graterol is the lack of swing-and-miss stuff; for as beautiful as that fastball is, it has a very low spin rate, thus not fooling anyone. Graterol doesn’t need to strike out hitters in order to be successful, but strikeouts do play well in October. With the better quality of hitters that’ll you see in October making contact may be detrimental if things start to go wrong.
It has been shown time and time again that the wrong guy closing for you in October can cost you a series. Treinen is probably out due to durability concerns, leaving Graterol and Martin as the last two guys. Graterol is the popular choice for the future closer but lacks the elite swing-and-miss potential for a successful closer. Chris Martin has been a near-perfect reliever since coming to LA. He has made the changes to become a successful reliever and shows the characteristics of an elite closer. Plus, he has the leg up having closed Game 1 last night.
If it was up to me it would probably be a dual closer situation for me. Treinen is closer 1A due to his elite stuff, proven track record, and closing experience. Then on the days when he can’t pitch, Martin steps up and holds down the ship.
These are the decisions that make and break teams in October, and hopefully whatever decision the Dodgers make is the right one, because the right decision will help the team etch their name in eternity as one of the greats.
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