FriarBall: 2008 Previews: Closer

Thursday, February 14, 2008

2008 Previews: Closer

Trevor Hoffman is and always will be the closer until he retires. With that said, how much longer can the aging saves leader keep hitters off-balance with an 85 mph fastball and a changeup as his only pitches?

The key to the changeup is obviously making the pitch look like a fastball in relation to release point and arm speed, but when the velocity drops on your fastball as you get older (and don't use PEDs) how much are the two pitches really different.

Hoffman has always been one of my favorites and to me, signifies the post-Tony Gwynn era Padres but sometimes time just runs out. However I am predicting that will not be this year.

Saves are about as easy to predict as wins with a lot of the actual results dependent on others but I am going to say Hoffman posts another 40+ save season, blows less than 5 and keeps his ERA in the 2.50 range.

However, if the last week of last season really was indicitive of how much longer Hoffman can hold on, I am still confident we will get those numbers out of our closer. The only difference may be that Heath Bell would be the one posting the numbers.

The 'pen will again be the strength of this team and us making the playoffs will once again come down to how much work it can conceivably do without running down.

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