May 21, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Grant Balfour (50) throws a pitch during the ninth inning at Tropicana Field. Oakland Athletics defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tampa Bay Rays remove Grant Balfour as closer

Just hours after Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon announced that Grant Balfour was still his closer, the reliever has been yanked from the role.

Balfour shockingly hasn’t blown many saves this season (at least in comparison to his league counterparts) but his blown save on Sunday pushed his season ERA to an absurd 6.46, prompting Maddon to make the move for the struggling Rays.

So who is to take over? Nobody has been anointed as the incumbent with Maddon suggesting he wants to go with a committee approach, though not shockingly those never seem to work as one pitcher seems to emerge over the others.

The most likely to do so in this case are either Jake McGee and Juan Carlos Oviedo, though, again, neither has been officially announced as a closer.

As for Balfour, it’s not known if he will ever get the job back. Maddon announced that he wanted the pitcher to re-gain his confidence, so it sounds like it’s a possibility though he’s going to have to pitch much better if such is to become an option.

You may recall, during the past offseason, Balfour was let go by the Oakland Athletics after requesting too much money and opted to sign with the Baltimore Orioles. However, Orioles doctors found that Balfour had an issue which resulted in a failed physical, allowing the reliever to sign with the Tampa Bay Rays late in the offseason.

It’s not known if Balfour’s poor pitching is due to any type of injury or just a lack of command/pitch speed.

Tags: Grant Balfour Joe Maddon Tampa Bay Rays

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