WHOAH WHOAH WHOAH HOLD THE MAYO
Notes: Different approach for Frasor
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
Jason Frasor is 0-1 with a 9.31 ERA in August. (Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
TORONTO -- It's a mercy move, more than anything else.
After weeks of watching Jason Frasor struggle with the game on the line, Toronto manager John Gibbons wants to try a different approach. He won't forget about Frasor, but he won't use him exclusively as a closer either.
"We're not in a pennant race. We've got to do what's best for the kid right now, since he's a big part of it," said Gibbons. "I'm not saying he's out of that closing role, but don't be surprised if you see him a little earlier."
It's a decision weeks in the making, prompted by a slow fade from Frasor. The right-hander has had problems finishing things off lately, working much harder than he did in the first few months. Frasor is 0-1 with a 9.31 ERA in August, more than double his next-worst month (a 3.75 mark in June).
"It seems like there have been a lot of hits, as of late. I fall behind a guy, come in there for a strike. Hit," he said on Friday night. "If I get ahead, I'm leaving one over the plate. I haven't punched a lot of guys out lately, and when they're hitting them, they're hitting them hard."
Still, despite his struggles, Frasor has done an admirable job in the ninth. He's 16-for-17 in save opportunities this season, and he leads AL rookies in both saves and appearances (51). He's made a couple games closer than expected, though, giving Gibbons a reason to switch things up.
In short, this isn't the same guy who threw 20 straight scoreless innings earlier in the season. The skipper said that a brief respite from the pressures of the ninth inning might do wonders for Frasor's flagging confidence. And the same theory applies to Vinnie Chulk, who's been serving as a setup man in recent weeks.
"You've got to protect them," he said of his young players. "Sometimes, you've got to give the guy a little breathing room to get back on track. Then you put them back in the same role."
So who steps into the void? Gibbons said he'll use his whole bullpen, but veterans like Justin Speier and Kerry Ligtenberg will factor into the mix. Speier has been particularly hot -- he's allowed just six earned runs in his last 22 appearances, good for a 2.16 ERA over that corresponding time-frame.
"We'll probably start going with Spy a little more. He's pitched good and he's been through the long season, with results," said Gibbons. "We're not going to eliminate any particular role, but we're going to use them all and give Vinnie some more breathing room."
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