Baseball is a game that flows, at various stages of the game different players are replaced by other players, each player has a specific role to fill, the game situation dictates when a player should be called upon. A game that flows like the fountain, which in Spanish translates to Fuente. However, Brian Fuentes did not flow last night.
In some of my previous entries I talked about my concern for Brian Fuentes. Last night’s performance added more condemning evidence as to why he should be replaced by Fernando Rodney as the Angels’ Closer. Fuentes who replaced Rodney in the ninth inning of last night’s 5 to 4 win over Tampa Bay Rays went into the game with a four to one lead. It was mathematic his job was simply to get the final three outs of the game, instead he once again gave up a home run to Willy Aybar, just after striking out Gabe Kapler which made the game at that point 4 to 2 with one out. Jason Bartlett hit an infield single, then Fuentes proceeded to walk the following batter. Evan Longoria doubled to a gap in left center, tying the game at 4 to 4.
A closer should be able to do exactly what the position implies, close the game. Brian Fuentes has shown time after time that he has been unable to do that. His performance nullified a brilliant outing by Joel Piñeiro, he went six and third shutout innings with five hits and seven strikeouts. Brian Fuentes also canceled out the home runs by Torii Hunter and Mike Napoli. Brian Fuentes has been unable to close games and in my opinion has cost us at least one victory and could have cost the Angels a victory last night if the offense had not responded they way they did in extra innings. Fuentes has been at the very least ineffective as the closer in my opinion the bullpen needs to be reorganized to install Fernando Rodney as and closer. An article in today’s Los Angeles Times demonstrates that Angels’ Manager Mike Scioscia disagrees with me:
“We’ve got to let this keep moving forward,”…”We haven’t seen enough of this to evaluate it. We’re going to need all three of those guys (Fernando Rodney, Brian Fuentes, and Kevin Jepsen) to settle in and get the job done the way we know they can.”
The Angels haven’t seen enough to evaluate? Two blown saves, one of which cost the Angels a win? And almost cost them one last night, if the offense hadn’t responded. The game shouldn’t of gone to extra innings last night, but thanks to Brian Fuentes, it did. If he doesn’t blow saves, he puts games in jeopardy. Brian Fuentes has a 7.04 Earned Run Average, and three home runs allowed in just 7 2/3 innings. Juxtapose that with Fernando Rodney’s five straight saves in five opportunities when Fuentes was on the disabled list, add to that that Rodney has publicly stated that he feels more comfortable in closers’ role. What is left to evaluate? Brian Fuentes needs to work on his mechanics, he’s unreliable, and Fernando Rodney has demonstrated that he is capable of becoming the Angels’ full time closer.
A win is still the win, we beat the Tampa Bay Rays which came in with the best record in the American League, and all of baseball. If the offense wouldn’t have responded last night, I would’ve reflected on yet another Angels’ loss, like any lifelong fanatic I hate losses.