Grant Balfour loses closer job

ESPN logo
Monday, June 9, 2014

The Tampa Bay Rays will go with a closer-by-committee approach to replace struggling right-hander Grant Balfour in the role, manager Joe Maddon said Monday.

"We're going to go by committee right now," Maddon told reporters.

Maddon said he doesn't plan on appointing a new closer and that the role will be spread among several pitchers, giving him "the ability to utilize the whole bullpen." Jake McGee and Juan Carlos Oviedo are among the candidates who could get regular time in the role.

Balfour entered Monday 0-2 with a 6.46 ERA in 24 games and had nine saves in 11 opportunities. He has walked 20 batters in 23 2/3 innings.

"It just hasn't worked out," Maddon said, adding that he expects Balfour will get a chance to close some games later this season.

The move comes one day after Balfour allowed five runs to the Seattle Mariners in the top of the ninth inning, breaking a scoreless tie and sending the Rays to their 12th loss in 13 games.

Balfour was one pitch away from taking the Rays to the bottom of the ninth with the game still scoreless, but Brad Miller laced a triple into the right-field corner. After a walk to Willie Bloomquist, Endy Chavez bounced a single into left field to drive in the first run.

James Jones followed with a two-run triple. After Robinson Cano walked, Kyle Seager completed the rally with a two-run double to right field.

"I think I upset the baseball gods or did something wrong," Balfour said Sunday, when he struck out the first two batters he faced before giving up four hits and two walks. "I've never given up five runs in my career in an inning and I've done it twice this year."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.