Twins set to use situational approach at closer

Left-hander Rogers and right-hander Belisle will share role for time being

August 2nd, 2017

SAN DIEGO -- Twins manager Paul Molitor said he's not going to name a closer after was traded to the Nationals, but will instead turn to left-hander and right-hander Matt Belisle based on matchups.

Rogers doesn't have a save in his two seasons in the big leagues, but does lead the Majors with 24 holds this season. Belisle, a 14-year veteran, has five career saves, but the last was in 2012, when he had three saves with the Rockies.

"He just said yesterday he's going to treat it as lineup dependent," Rogers said. "But we obviously have to have the lead. But anything goes really. It's whoever is ready and based on the lineups and things like that."

Rogers has posted a 3.79 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings, but has scuffled in his last five appearances, allowing nine earned runs in three innings. Belisle has a 4.64 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings, but has pitched well recently, tossing 12 1/3 scoreless innings in July with 13 strikeouts. Belisle, though, hasn't pitched on back-to-back days since July 7-8, which could limit his availability to close.

Rogers said Kintzler gave him advice on what it's like to close, as pitching in the ninth with a lead has a different feel than any other inning.

"Kintzler always talked about the difference between [the ninth inning] and the seventh and eighth is that there's nobody behind you," Rogers said. "Just that feeling of being the last guy kind of changes the ballgame. But you still have to treat it like it's the seventh or eighth. You have to execute your pitches."

Rookie right-hander has also been solid since getting called up in late June, posting a 3.12 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings. He's expected to be used in high-leverage roles going forward, and could even figure as a closer later in the year depending on how Belisle and Rogers fare. Belisle, a free agent after this season, is also a candidate to be placed on waivers and traded in August.

"I think you have to eventually challenge these guys a little bit more, especially when they've been successful," Molitor said. "[Belisle] has had a nice run. I wouldn't hesitate to look for situations deeper in the game to get him in there and see how he responds."