Balfour Out Four-to-Six Weeks
Incumbent A’s closer Grant Balfour will be sidelined for four to six weeks following surgery to repair his right knee which specifically has a torn meniscus. In another wonderful showing by the A’s medical staff, it seems this problem existed last year but now again has returned in time to have him miss basically all of Spring Training. Balfour started the 2012 season as closer, stopped being closer, then ended the season being closer, posting a 2.53 ERA, 3.03 FIP in 75 appearances across 74 2/3 innings. He had decent peripherals with 8.7 K/9, 3.4 BB/9 and 0.5 HR/9 and had a strong 37 shutdowns to just eight meltdowns (for traditionalists he had 24 saves with two blown).
While it looks like this surgery may jeopardize Balfour’s ability to be the closer to start the year, it may not given the timeframe. That said one has to expect Bob Melvin to prepare alternatives and my guess is that Sean Doolittle gets the gig, though Ryan Cook will clearly be in the mix. Cook spent a bit of time in the closer role for the 2012 A’s, accumulating 14 saves to go with his Balfour matching 37 shutdowns and eight meltdowns. Cook was the A’s lone representative in the All-Star Game in Kansas City in 2012. On the year Cook posted a 2.09 ERA, 2.89 FIP, with 9.8 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and 0.5 HR/9 and strong 46.8% GB%. Doolittle however provides a little more panache, as in his 47 1/3 innings of work he had 11.4 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and 0.6 HR/9 for and impressive 3.04 ERA and even more impressive 2.08 FIP.