Closer report: Morales, K-Rod struggling
April, 19, 2010
By Eric Karabell | ESPN.com
I was a bit concerned about Colorado Rockies fill-in closer Franklin Morales even before Sunday, when a questionable call in the ninth inning helped contribute to his unraveling and ending up with his second consecutive blown save. Morales closed well enough last September when Huston Street was unavailable, but I can't help but wonder if Rafael Betancourt would have received the call for the ninth inning this time around had he been healthy in late March. Knowing that Street needed a DL stint and Betancourt was hurting, manager Jim Tracy simply gave the job to Morales.
But Betancourt isn't hurting now, and Morales' numbers are. Statistics can be tweaked to make a point in any number of ways, but what I noticed in that fateful ninth inning Sunday was how Morales, who generally gets the fastball up to the plate at a consistent 95 mph, hasn't had the same velocity this April. The excellent curveball appears to have the same ol' bite, but Morales needs to feed off the heater. Command has always been an issue with him, and while he can blame a misread balk call, an umpire's blown call at first base and the great Jason Heyward flat-out beating him with the game-winning hit, the fact is Morales has faced 22 batters this season and fanned just one of them (Jose Reyes last week). And let's be clear, Reyes (.154, 10 strikeouts in eight games) isn't exactly thriving.