Mister, Mister Jones. Nate Jones was a solid piece of the bullpen last year and there is some talk that he will be the closer this year with the departure of Addison Reed. I'm glad there hasn't been some dramatic announcement regarding such a move. In an interview with Don Cooper about a week or so ago, the pitching coach said that the team will be taking a wait and see attitude toward finding a closer, namely that they hope someone emerges. If it happens to be Jones, great, but I don't think the added expectation of being the new closer helps anyone.
Jones has the classic closer stuff, a great deal of speed on the fastball with a second pitch, a slider, which he uses fairly frequently. He was used in relatively short relief appearances last year and earned 16 holds, for what that is worth. Unfortunately, in the 4 save opportunities he had, Nate blew them all. Adding to the mixed bag is that his K/9 and K% are both better than average, but his BB/9 and BB% are decidedly average if not below average.
Interestingly over at Fangraphs two of the services that do projections are slotting Jones in at the closer role and two are not. There isn't much of difference in the projected numbers, with the exception of the number of saves they foresee, naturally. Also when compared to Addison Reed's numbers, Jones are very similar all things considered, with the exception of the save total. It basically comes down to what inning Jones does most of his work. If it is the ninth inning, then he's the closer; anywhere else and he is just a part of the bullpen. If he hits the save projections that are predicted for him, 29 and 31 respectively, it demonstrates at least a little bit, that closers are made and not born. It also would demonstrate that Don Cooper is an even more valuable asset than previously believed.
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