Kevin Gregg Should Be Orioles Closer


I have to admit I have gone back and forth on what is sure to be a hot topic for Orioles fans come spring training. Who should be the Orioles primary closer this season?

First, I’m going to dismiss the closer by committee approach. I’m sure Koji and Gregg could share the closers job, but for the sake of this article let’s just try to decide who will be the primary closer. Second, I’m not even considering Mike Gonzalez. I’m sure you can make a case for him being the closer as well and he could even get save opportunities before the season is over, but it looks like he is locked in as the main left handed reliever in the bullpen.

I originally was going with Koji over Kevin Gregg as the Orioles closer because of his great command and the way the Orioles played last year with him closing games towards the end of the season. I wrote an article earlier in the offseason about how important it was for the Orioles to resign Koji and I am very happy they did.

The pros with Koji as the closer are that he has remarkable command and he doesn’t put runners on base. Koji is never going to make Orioles fans tear their hair out because he walked the leadoff hitter in a one run game. Koji also has the ability to put away batters with his split fingered fastball and he has proven he can close games in Camden Yards against the rest of the AL East. However, Koji has been injury prone and if he gets hurt again it will immediately shake up everyone’s roles in the bullpen. Koji is also susceptible to the long ball, but let’s be honest, what closer not named Mariano Rivera isn’t?

Kevin Gregg has a longer track record than Koji does. He has saved over 20 games the last four seasons and he has proven he can close in the AL East. Over a full season as closer for the Blue Jays, Gregg actually had his most impressive season saving 37 games with a 3.51 ERA. Gregg’s main detraction is that he walks too many hitters. His 30 walks in 59 innings is disconcerting, and he could provide for one too many close calls. However, he has proven he can get the saves and win the games, and isn’t that what really matters?

At this point, I would go with Kevin Gregg as the Orioles closer this season. He is not going to be a dominant closer, but he is reliable and he has proven over multiple seasons that he can close games. It has been a while since the Orioles went a full season with a closer who was at the very least reliable.

Gregg had a save percentage last year of 86% which is actually better than Papelbon’s 82.2% and just about equal to Rivera’s 86.8%. Sure Rivera and Papelbon are the bigger names, but if Gregg can save the same percentage of games as the Red Sox and Yankees closers I think the Orioles will gladly take that.