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Nisly wrote:Any predictions on the Save total of the eventual Atl closer, assuming someone solidifies the job in the next 2-4 weeeks?
baseballnewb wrote:Why on earth would you drop finley for some guy that has never been good in his career and doesn't even have the job by himself yet. I just don't get it.
Paco625 wrote:Atrophying Testicles wrote::-o I dropped Borowski and David Wright to get him !
I don't think dropping D. Wright was the right move....i'm debating whether to drop Borowski or not...hmm....
By DAVID O'BRIEN
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 05/18/05
SAN DIEGO — The longest Braves road trip of the season is turning into the most brutal two weeks of Dan Kolb's career.
The Braves closer lost his job after blowing another save — and another potential win for John Smoltz — when Kolb allowed two runs in the ninth inning of a 3-2 loss to the San Diego Padres on Tuesday.
Manager Bobby Cox said Wednesday that Kolb (1-4, 6.48 ERA) would move to middle relief and the Braves would "piece together" the closer role by committee.
"It's building a little too much," the manager said, referring to the late-inning meltdowns in general and to the scrutiny on Kolb, who has blown two saves on the trip and three in 13 opportunities this season. "We need to straighten it out before it explodes. That's what we're doing."
The Braves didn't need a closer Wednesday when the Padres beat them 8-4 to complete a three-game sweep. Atlanta dropped to 3-6 on a 12-game trip that concludes with a weekend series at Boston.
Atlanta blew eighth- or ninth-inning leads in four losses on the trip.
"I totally understand [the Kolb move]," third baseman Chipper
Jones said. "The time has come to make changes. We should have a bigger lead than we do."
Atlanta's lead in the NL East is down to a half-game over Florida.
"It's been a rough road trip," said center fielder Andruw Jones, who's done his part with six home runs. "The starting pitchers are pitching great. Even the bullpen, they manage to keep us in the game. It's just the last three outs — we've not been getting the job done."
Cox said any other reliever could be used in ninth-inning situations for the immediate future, depending on matchups, who's rested and who's hot.
Adam Bernero, Chris Reitsma, Jorge Sosa and left-hander John Foster seem likely candidates, along with Kevin Gryboski after he returns from the disabled list.
Kolb, who is a $3.4 million middle reliever until further notice, looked distraught after Cox met with him Wednesday morning. "You've just got to respect what he says," Kolb said, looking away as he answered a reporter's questions. "He's trying to do what's best for the team."
Kolb blew two saves in six days, costing Smoltz two potential wins.
Smoltz, the former closer whose shoes Kolb has failed to fill, allowed four hits and one run in eight innings Tuesday and left with a 3-1 lead. Kolb surrendered two runs, three hits and two walks in the ninth while recording one out. He walked the first batter he faced for the 13th time.
First batters are hitting .286 with a .429 on-base percentage against Kolb, after hitting .177 with a .219 OBP against Smoltz during the 2002-04 seasons.
Pitching coach Leo Mazzone was asked about getting a game's last three outs.
"Some pitchers make it a lot more difficult than it should be," Mazzone said. "You can't [walk the leadoff man] in a one-run game. Or any save situation, really. It comes back to get you."
Kolb said after walking Ryan Klesko to start the ninth Tuesday, "Leadoff walks don't bother me. I'm a ground ball pitcher; I can get double plays."
Cox wants Kolb to work on command and use his slider and changeup more.
"I pitch the way I pitch," Kolb said of that suggestion. "I'm a fastball guy. I'm getting ground balls now. I'm just going to try to keep going [at] guys."
He has the fourth-highest ERA among NL relievers, second-highest walks rate (16 in 16 2/3 innings), and fourth-worst baserunners-per-nine-innings (18.4).
On May 11 at Colorado, Smoltz allowed four runs (three earned) in eight innings and the Braves scored three in the ninth for a 5-4 lead. Kolb allowed two runs in the bottom of the ninth and recorded one out.
"Smoltz pitched great in Colorado and he pitched great [in San Diego]," Andruw Jones said. "But if you don't get the last three outs, you're not going to win. . . . I'm sure [Smoltz] is frustrated a little bit. You wish he could go nine, but you've got to pass it over to those bullpen guys because they've got a job to do, and that's what they're here for."
It was the fourth time on the trip that Atlanta blew an eighth- or ninth-inning lead, Reitsma and Kolb each picking up two losses and two blown saves.
Kolb is popular in the clubhouse, but teammates agreed with Cox's decision.
"It's very important for the team," Chipper Jones said. "Things aren't working, so he's going to change it up a little bit. We got some questions down [in the bullpen], no doubt. When you have a lead in the eighth and ninth inning, you have to close the door."
Smoltz said he felt bad for Kolb. He'd hoped his replacement would get off to a good start to quiet skeptics who questioned the decision to go with a low-strikeout closer who had the role less than two full seasons in Milwaukee.
"It's tough enough answering questions after you don't get it done," Smoltz said. "But the way it's been happening, it's probably getting more people uneasy, because he's got the stuff and he just is not throwing enough strikes. He knows that and he's putting a lot of pressure on himself.
"This is not a fun environment to come into and feel like you have to be perfect all the time."
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