Neato Torpedo wrote:Howell has more blown holds (5) than holds (4) or saves (3). Four were in the 8th inning and one was in the 7th. Just sayin'.
This is a classic case of a misleading stat, and his 5 blown saves were pointed out pages ago, as an interesting aside. (3 were from a month or more ago when Percy was still the closer.)
The two most recent blown saves actually provide a bit of (further) evidence, in my opinion, that he's the "fantasy closer" for TB. Pardon the archived game commentary, but I think it's useful to look at them to support my points:
The first one (6/6) was when Howell entered with an inherited runner on in the 8th. That runner scored to tie the game, but Howell got out of the rest of the inning with the game still tied. The Rays subsequently took a four run lead in the top of the 9th, putting Howell in line for a win, and creating no save opp. Wheeler thus comes in (to save Howell for next game, imo) to this non-save situation and then proceeds, by giving up 2 runs, to create a save opportunity for someone else (Choate). Perhaps Wheeler was still being considered to close the game back when Howell was brought in in the 8th, but I don't see this as the case now. If there's ever a case of "things happening to shake out right for a save," this is definitely true of Choate here. So this game could potentially represent Wheeler's last chance for consideration. It certainly explains away Choate's save as situational.
The second one (6/7) Howell again enters in the 8th with runners on (bases loaded), 1 out, and a 3-1 lead. He walks a guy (definitely bad), but then gets the next two to ground out, though the first one reaches on an error and fielder's choice), and so he ends up giving up the lead and getting the blown save. Does Maddon go to him for a 1 2/3 inning save if the error didn't occur? We'll never know. The point is that he's gone with him in the 9th ever since this game, and unlike the dreaded verbal "vote of confidence" from the manager, such a tacit vote of confidence ain't no jinx.
Let me put it all a different way, if the Rays start
the 9th with a lead, who comes in for the save? At this point, it's Howell until further notice. Last night confirmed it, with him striking out the side as a little f-you to those non-believers. Choate may be situational, but not when Howell's available. As for fans of Wheeler and Balfour, you're all stuck in 2008.