Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Another Carmona meltdown

The score: Save-situation anxiety 2, Fausto Carmona 0
Admittedly, Fenway Park is not a good place to carry out an experiment with a rookie closer. It is second only to Yankee Stadium in terms of intimidation factor.
Wednesday, Carmona's second attempt at a major league save started off much better than the first, but ended just as badly. Unlike Monday's blown save, he got the first two outs in rapid succession. Then, he performed one of the most spectacular meltdowns any closer has ever performed.
After running out the count on Doug Mirabelli, one teeny tiny strike from that elusive save, the yips returned, and Fausto plunked Mirabelli on the arm. Right then, we should have known his composure was gone. He hit the next batter, then walked Kevin Youkilis to load the bases.
With each ball, we could see the frustration growing on Carmona's face. Much like David Ortiz's homer Monday, the game-winning hit for Boston was the product of a fastball heave from an exasperated Carmona. This time, it was Mark Loretta's double off the Green Monster.
We can't rush to judgments about Carmona. The crucible of trying to nail down a save for the visiting team in Fenway corrupts any clear picture we can get of Carmona as a closer. If he starts gagging like this in front of Jacobs Field crowds, then we'll really know something.
Still, I wonder if this will open a door for Jason Davis. Once upon a time, Davis was vetted as the closer of the future, and found lacking. Perhaps parts of five seasons in the big leagues might give Davis the upper hand of experience, something Carmona is very obviously and very painfully lacking at the moment.
But, like I have said before, good closers are the product of the right mental skills first, and the right physical skills a close second. Both Carmona and Davis are showing that they have the latter, but at the present time, lack the former. If neither can calm down enough to nail down saves, we are looking at a long two-month stretch that will make the 2004 Tribe bullpen look like the Nasty Boys.

No comments: