A recent blog post by David O'Brien of the AJC brings up the topic of whether Jonny Venters should get save opportunities over Craig Kimbrel. This brings up the age old debate over closers and when they should pitch, and in this case sitting on their hands is the best policy.
Kimbrel has blown a couple saves here and there, which had led to the question being brought up. My immediate response is it's May and he's a rookie relief pitcher. This was pretty much guaranteed to happen, no matter how filthy his stuff is. But not even the fact that he's a rookie, he has always had control issues and will continue to blow the occasional save because of this, even at the age of 30. You take the good with the bad with Kimbrel.
Venters has been dominating, perhaps the best reliever in the game. Moving him into a role that makes more money seems like the logical thing to do. If only giving a relief pitcher a ton of money to pitch what is often a meaningless inning was logical.
Venters has a better chance at seeing more high leverage situations by being the setup guy than if he was relegated to the ninth inning. Being one inning closer to those situations where the game is often on the line, which seems to come in the seventh inning a lot, can only help. If he was pushed back to the ninth inning, he would never see those situations.
It's a case of common sense. You want your best reliever in the most important, high leverage situations, whether it's the seventh inning or the ninth inning. Limiting your relief ace to the ninth inning while the game is blown in the seventh is mind boggling, yet it continues to happen throughout baseball, and it certainly happens more than ever with Fredi Gonzalez. But if Venters is held to pitching before the ninth, there is a better chance that he sees more high leverage situations.
Fixing the bullpen's woes has nothing to do with moving Kimbrel out of the closer's role. Not even close.