With Balfour struggling, Rays opt for closer-by-committee approach
Jun 9, 2014 at 3:16p ET
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. --
Manager Joe Maddon announced Monday morning that the team will use a by-committee approach, a day after Balfour allowed five runs and four hits in the ninth inning of the Seattle Mariners' 5-0 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field. Maddon refused to narrow the list of candidates for the job, calling the possibilities "the whole group" depending on ninth-inning matchups.
However, three bullpen options -- left-hander Jake McGee (1.59 ERA), plus right-handers Joel Peralta (4.18 ERA) and Juan Carlos Oviedo (2.25 ERA) -- would seem to be favorites to appear in late high-leverage situations. Oviedo leads the group with 92 career saves. Peralta follows with 11, and McGee has one.
"I just want him to understand that I want to take a little bit off of his plate right now and get him going in the right direction," Maddon said of Balfour. "Again, here's one of the most consistent relievers over the last couple of years in the big leagues. It just hasn't been working. It just hasn't been working yet, and it will. So for right now, I just wanted to back off just a little bit."
The collapse, which came after Balfour struck out Dustin Ackley and Cole Gillespie to begin the ninth, marked the second time in Balfour's 11-year career that he allowed five earned runs in one appearance. The first came in a loss to the Chicago White Sox on April 25, when he allowed a walk-off grand slam to Jose Abreu in a 9-6 loss.
Balfour, a 2013 All-Star signed by the Rays to a two-year, $12 million deal in January, has a dismal 6.46 ERA in 23 2/3 innings this season. Entering Monday, his 20 walks allowed were second-most among American League relievers. Only the 21 from the White Sox's Daniel Webb were worse.
"I haven't pitched like I know I can, like I know I should," Balfour said Monday. "But at the same time, yesterday I really felt like it could have been a 10-pitch inning, three strikeouts. It was one pitch away."
Maddon said Balfour, who was named the Rays' closer when he signed, will be part of the by-committee approach used for an indefinite span. He added that the move away from Balfour as the lone option won't be employed to find one specific closer for later in the season.
"He was very understanding, in a sense," Maddon said.