One wouldn't want to make the Rays out to be more unconventional than they are, however. Ace lefty J.P. Howell is getting most of the chances, and rightly so -- one of the real marvels of baseball, he has run up a 2.01 ERA since the beginning of last year and struck out 139 in 129.2 innings while serving straight slop, including a fastball that may touch 90 on days when he's feeling really good. Still, the team has yet to name him their capital-C closer, something he explains as well as anyone might. "I think just naming a closer would limit our bullpen," he recently told MLB.com.
That's the player saying that. The player who would make a lot more money just by having the label and meaningless stat following him around. He said that. Just a few weeks ago we had to endure the FOX 'analysts' bashing on 'sabermetrics' for not having a closer. As it turns out, even the player with the most to gain gets it. Good Betsy, J.P. Howell is awesome.
Also, Tim Marchman really does know his stuff:
Dale Thayer, whose greatest virtue may be his fabulous moustache