(Baseball StL) -- Being a closer can be a rough job. No one pays any attention to you when you do your job.
Everyone wants you out of your job when you don’t. Such is the life of a closer in major league baseball.
Jason Motte has handled it well. He knows if people are talking about him it’s for the wrong reasons. I mean, seriously. If your starting pitcher throws 7 shutout innings, your 1st baseman hits 2 home runs, the setup guy throws one inning in the 8th, the closer takes the 9th and your team wins...who are you going to look at as the stars of the game?
It’s always the starting pitcher and the 1st baseman. The pitcher who did the most work and the guy who provided the offense will get the attention. The closer, who had just as much to do with the win as anyone, gets ignored.
Will the Cards make the playoffs this season? Share your thoughts.
But if that same pitcher throws 7 shutout innings, that same 1st baseman hits 2 homers, that same setup guy puts up a zero in the 8th...but the closer botches the 9th and the team loses? No one will remember what happened in the first 8 innings. The closer’s failure will be all anyone talks about.
So to review: If no one is talking about the closer, if no one hears from him, if you kind of forget about him, he’s doing a tremendous job. And, for most of 2012, Jason Motte has done just that.
Don’t get me wrong. Last night’s 9th inning was not good for Motte. His 3-2 cutter to the D’Backs Paul Goldschmidt was flat and out over the middle of the plate. His next pitch down and in to Chris Young didn’t seem to move much either. It wasn’t a good night for Motte, clearly. He suffered his 5th blown save and the Cards lost a big one to Arizona, 2-1.
But for the vast majority of 2012, Motte’s done more than an admirable job in that crucial role. Nothing says that more than the fact we haven’t been talking about him blowing a save since June 17. Since that time he had a 0.98 ERA and a .154 opponents batting average before last night. That’s insane. Talk about dominating while going under the radar. If a starter was putting up those kind of numbers you wouldn’t be able to turn on the TV or go on the internet without seeing someone talk or write about him.
A bullpen guy? Eh, ho hum.
That’s fine for Motte, though. He doesn’t care about attention. And you can’t if you’re a closer.
The key now is bouncing back. If the Cards, who start a crucial series tonight against the Pirates, are in a save situation going into the 9th Motte will be trusted once again to go out there and close things out. And he can’t have last night’s failure on his mind. They say you have to have a short memory. It’s not as easy as it sounds. But you just have to forget it ever happened.
In his minimal time spent as a closer in the big leagues, Motte’s shown an ability to do just that. Now, he’s got to do it again.