Spartans Rule wrote:Tampa Bay was and still is a committee. Today things just happened to shake out right for Howell to get the save.
In Howell's last four appearances prior to today, he came in 3 times in the 8th and once in the 9th with the Rays trailing. Maddon seems to like to use him to bail out his other RPs when they get in trouble. If no one gets in trouble like today, then maybe he closes. But I'd hardly annoint him a full-time closer just based on this game.
What you say is true.
J.P. Howell has the highest gmLI in the bullpen. He's clearly being used by Maddon in the most important situations. Sometimes, that means appearing in the 7th or 8th inning, as circumstances demand.
It's probably the best way to exploit the most effective pitcher in the bullpen.
If the question is, "Who is Tampa's closer?" the answer is that they don't have one in the traditional sense.
But if the question is, "Which reliever in Tampa's bullpen will likely see the most number of saves through the rest of the season?" the answer is probably JP Howell.
Would you rather have a guy who gets 15-20 saves like Howell and puts up great all-around numbers or have a guy like Matt Capps who might finish with 25-30 saves with woeful ERA/WHIP/strikeouts?
Call me crazy, but I'd take Howell over Capps, Aardsma, Sherrill, Rodney, Lindstrom, and Gregg at the moment. Howell may not be officially anointed, but his potential value even in a limited role seems greatly more secure.