In baseball's first week, a lot of BS (that's blown saves)

By Danny Knobler | Baseball Insider

On Wednesday, it didn't matter if you had a closer or you didn't. It didn't matter if your closer was hurt or healthy. It didn't matter if he was near-perfect in 2012 or imperfect.

The result was the same.

BS.

That's BS, as in blown save. Where did you think we were going?

There were 10 of them on Wednesday. In the first three full days of the season, saves are being converted at just a 58-percent rate (70 percent is about the regular norm).

So, is there something going on here, or are we just dealing with the dreaded small-sample size?

Chris Perez thinks it could be more than that.

Perez is the Indians' closer, and he had one of the blown saves on Wednesday (on a Jose Bautista home run in the ninth). He also had an opening day blown save in 2012, and he has noticed that other closers seem more likely to have blown saves in the first week of the season (Fernando Rodney on Wednesday, Mariano Rivera and Jose Valverde on opening day 2012, for example).

"You just can't replicate this in spring training," Perez said. "In spring training, you're just facing hitters who are getting their work in. They're not putting together ninth-inning at-bats. You don't replicate Jose Bautista in the ninth inning in a spring training game."

There could be something to that, but it's worth pointing out that the theory doesn't completely fit. Perez had a shortened spring, and some scouts watching him on Wednesday wondered if he's fully recovered from the strained shoulder that limited him to just five Cactus League innings (he said he is).

Rodney, meanwhile, did replicate ninth-inning pressure this spring, when he pitched for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic. If anything, the Rays worried that he pitched too much in the WBC, not too little. But a lack of intensity in the spring can't be blamed for his Wednesday blown save (after he had just two all last season).

Then there are the teams that are still searching for a closer, either due to injury or to their own offseason choices.

Three of the blown saves on Wednesday belonged to the Cardinals, whose closer (Jason Motte) is on the DL. Fill-in closer Mitchell Boggs had a blown save in the 12th inning, and so did Joe Kelly and Trevor Rosenthal earlier in the game.

The Tigers, who famously counted on rookie Bruce Rondon being ready (he wasn't), had the first blown save of the day when Phil Coke gave up two runs in the ninth. Coincidentally or not, the Tigers announced Thursday that they have re-signed Valverde, although he'll first report to their spring training camp in Lakeland.

Valverde, who failed last year in the playoffs (which is why the Tigers didn't re-sign him over the winter), won't be able to replicate ninth-inning intensity while he's in Lakeland. Eventually, he'll probably get a chance to do it in Detroit.

Meanwhile, the Tigers (and everyone else in baseball) will try to avoid the BS.

Players with blown saves in 2013
Player, Team2012 Blown Saves2012 Saves
Fernando Rodney, TB248
Chris Perez, CLE439
John Axford, MIL935
Jonathan Broxton, CIN627
Wilton Lopez, COL310
Tony Sipp12
Pedro Stropp, BAL73
Luis Ayala, BAL21
Phil Coke, DET21
Jake McGee, TB01
Mitchell Boggs, STL30
Trevor Rosenthal, STL10
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