Chris Perez out as Indians closer

BY foxsports • September 27, 2013

Chris Perez is no longer the closer of the Cleveland Indians.

After a recent string of poor outings, including Thursday night's meltdown against the Twins, manager Terry Francona is ready to make a change. While Francona hasn't named any one player to take over closing duties, he said the team has plenty of options and will do 'whatever it takes' to get the job done.

"Our main goal is to get CP back to being an effective pitcher," Francona said in an interview with WTAM 1100 Friday afternoon. "In the
meantime we're going to figure out a way to get these games finished whether it's Masty, Smitty, or whoever- we're gonna figure out a way."

Joe Smith, who has three saves of his own this season, seems like the obvious go-to for Francona. Having already pitched 62 innings at this point, which is somewhat high for a submarine/sidearm pitcher, 'Smitty' wouldn't be available for multi-inning saves. Justin Masterson however, could be.

"Two innings for Smitty right now might be asking a bit much, considering what we've thrown at him already," Francona said. "I could see Masty getting on a roll and doing something like that," he said. "But
again we're also trying to build Masty back into Major League innings
while also accomplishing winning. We're trying to tackle a couple things
at once."

While Perez's status as closer has been a topic of debate all year, he has failed to convert only five of 30 save opportunities this season. The five blown saves, however, couldn't have come at worse times. Fans have been highly ciritcal of his ability to perform his closing duties during important games, sighting his August 5 meltdown in Detroit and Tuesday's crucial game against the White Sox.

Just one year ago Perez was an All-Star closer, among the best in saves.

What happened?

"We need to figure that out," Francona said. "We asked him that and he didn't have the answer either. He's just not locating and he's paying for it right now. When I talked to him today he told me he doesn't want to hurt the team. It was a good side of CP, he was completley team first-- it was a good conversation."

Francona has stood by Perez all season, through good and bad. But now, just when his team needs him most, he's failed to deliver and Francona knows the Indians don't have time to let Perez work through whatever is ailling him. A playoff berth is on the line.

Asked again for clarification, if Perez was not the Indians closer, Francona's answer was simple, "Right. Exactly."

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