Before the 2004 season, I blogged about Jeremy Affeldt. In the post, I mentioned that I thought Affeldt could be one of the best pitchers in the AL.
Something has gone awry. Affeldt had such promise coming up. He's a left handed power pitcher who throws a strong fastball and a wicked curve. At times, he's been absolutely unhittable.
Before last year, he had his troublesome fingernail surgically removed to prevent his blister problems and started the season in the rotation with promise of establishing himself. But, for some reason, Affeldt didn't try to pitch for strikeouts. Rather, he pitched to contact. He was quoted in the KC Star as saying that he was coached to pitch this way. This makes absolutely no sense. Why take a chance by letting a batter put the ball in play when you could get a strike out?
Either way, this "coaching" seemed to ruin Affeldt. The Royals moved him to the closer role after it was obvious Mike MacDougal would be out with injuries and ineffectiveness. He recorded 13 saves, but I never felt he was in control. He'd get a save, but only after allowing a runner or two.
Today, in the Royals' first win of 2005, Affledt pitched the ninth and gave up 1 hit, 1 run, and 1 walk. He recorded 1 strikeout. I'll have to look, but has there ever been a successful left-handed closer?
I have always felt that Affeldt should be a starter (a fifth starter) just long enough to show promise and then be traded. Let MacDougal earn the closer's job again. He is more of a prototypical closer with is nasty slider following a fastball that touches 100. His violent windup that at times whips his cap off his head is intimidating to batters.