Hear me out before you start throwing things at me…
This idea came to me after his relief appearance when Cory Kluber came out of the game after one inning. With no warning or warmups, Joe Palumbo was thrust into the game. He started out fantastic. He went two innings with 4 strikeouts before the wheels started to come off. He started his third inning walking the first batter.
Then, Odor misplayed a double-play ball on a weird bounce. Palumbo made a bad throw on another double-play ball. He ended up leaving the game with the bases loaded and one out. (A strikeout)
For anyone who has followed the career of Joe Palumbo, there is one consistent thing he does. He misses bats.
In 357 minor league innings, he has struck out 425 hitters. In 19 major league innings, he has struck out 26 batters.
His minor league career ERA is 2.72 with a 9.47 major league ERA. Joe is 25 years old with only 19 innings in the big leagues. That’s not because he is a late bloomer. That is because he missed time recovering from a UCL tear that required Tommy John surgery. He also seems to be better from the windup, rather than the stretch.
The Rangers like Palumbo as a starter. He is comparable to Mike Minor. Both are left-handed. Both have very high spin rates on their fastball, which fools hitters into thinking a pitch is faster than it appears. The major league average spin rate is 2200 RPMs. (Revolutions Per Minute) Both Minor and Palumbo average around 2500 RPMs.
So, how does this translate into being a closer?
Well, closers for the most part have to be able to get the strikeout. (Read above and see where he does that) Most closing situations are high leverage. That means you have to be cool and collected – just find out who the experts picked tonight and you’ll see why. Talking with Joe he never seems rattled. Two errors in one inning of his first game this season. He never showed frustration. He kept his composure and walked off the field with his head up. Most closers have an attitude.
Palumbo was on a hard pitch count. He left the game after 86 pitches with two outs in the fifth.
“He’s gonna be upset”, Joe Sr said. “He wants to finish the inning.” I nodded in agreement. He continued, “that kid is the most competitive kid I have ever seen. He hates to lose.” I could see that on his face as he left the game.
Joe Palumbo is a Northeastern, blue-collar Long Island kid. He wanted to play pro baseball so bad, that he joined a men’s league his senior year of high school so he could be scouted. He was not eligible to pitch on his high school team because of some obscure transfer rules from his junior year. An opposing coach complained.
So, the question has to be asked…Why not Joe Palumbo at closer?
Pros and Cons
- Pro: He attacks hitters and misses bats
- Con: He can walk a batter
- Pro: He has the stuff of a fantastic closer
- Con: He has the stuff of a fantastic starter
- Pro: If on, he would be a shutdown closer
- Con: He is not ready to pitch on back to back games
- Con: He could be ruined as a starter which is what he came up as (especially since he has been stretched out this season)
There are more cons than pros, but if the ultimate goal this season is to make a run at it, then Palumbo has to be a serious contender for the closer role. (Or at least a back of the bullpen piece) Especially with the problems, we have seen with the bullpen.
Again, this is my opinion and the only other person I have heard suggests anything like this is Sean Bass of The Ticket and Rangers On Deck Podcast.
Are we way off base?
Featured Image: Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images