Alfredo: Pasta Topping or O’s Closer?
Well, the O’s certainly know which option they would pick as of now.
Alfredo Simon started off this season at AAA Norfolk. That lasted a few weeks. After having a very strong spring in Sarasota, impressing coaches all around like Trembley and Kranitz, the Orioles decided to bring him up from the minors only 3 weeks into the season. Simon had a 1.59 ERA at Norfolk, going 1-1 in 17 IP and only 3 ER. With a solid 14:5 K:BB ratio, Simon came to the Orioles home in Baltimore yesterday ready to play. The stat that shows his ability to pitch an inning of strong relief is his career WHIP in the minors, 1.394.
When Trembley asked him pre-game if he was scared, and Simon answered no, that was all Trembley needed to hear. Or at least in his mind. Without going in depth right here on Trembley, people question him lately, and a quick decision to throw the guy in at closer right away seems odd. I know he is shuffling things around, but he hasn’t closed since his 2005 season with Norwich when he recorded 19 saves.
Simon had Tommy John surgery just last year, and he has recovered more than perfectly from such a procedure. Here is the summary of the inning he pitched last night (courtesy of Yahoo! sports):
Top 9th: NY Yankees
|- J. Lugo at second|
|- A. Simon relieved J. Johnson|
|- C. Granderson struck out looking|
|- N. Swisher singled to shallow center|
|- N. Johnson hit for R. Winn|
|- N. Johnson walked, N. Swisher to second|
|- R. Pena ran for N. Johnson|
|- D. Jeter struck out swinging|
|- B. Gardner safe at first on shortstop C. Izturis’ fielding error, N. Swisher scored, R. Pena to third|
|- M. Teixeira singled to shallow right, R. Pena scored, B. Gardner to third|
- A. Rodriguez grounded into fielder’s choice, M. Teixeira out at second
Simon topped out at 97 with his fastball. Not just once, but consistently throwing 96 and 97 MPH heaters through the end of the inning. That was impressive. Although he was a starter in Norfolk, throwing mid-90s in a close situation past 20 pitches shows a true fight he had. He ended the inning with 29 total pitches, 20 of which went for strikes. His 2-seamer was shocking, and even moreso on replays when they tracked the motion of his 96 MPH throw that got Jeter to swing and strike out. With 2 Ks in the inning, and what should have been 0 runs scored, Simon had a very strong outing. Luckily, the score table counted both runs as not earned, due to Izturis’ error on Gardner’s ground ball that should have ended the inning with 2 outs. He kept his composure strong through the third out, eventually barely made my a flip from Lugo high to Izzy.
Trembley post-game said that he would feel 100% confident going with Simon again if his arm is feeling loose and ready to go. It will be interesting to see how this situation pans out. He is the most successful closer for the team so far this season, being the first to come through on his first save opportunity in the season.