In a season chock full of the unexpected for closers, this is icing on the cake. Heath Bell has been one of the most reliable and consistent closers over the past three seasons in MLB baseball. After changing teams and venues, it has been a totally different set of results for the ace closer. In 2012 Heath Bell is 3/7 in save opportunities and in 11 appearances has an ERA over 11.00. He has been anything but effective and has now been temporarily removed from the closer role by manager Ozzie Guillen. That took a lot from Guillen being he is so committed to Bell, but if you know Guillen, you will know he has only so much patient with closers.
So what is wrong with Heath Bell? Could it be the change of venue? Not likely. Not only is the weather just about the same in sunny Florida as it is in SoCal (San Diego) that shouldn’t change much either. THen I thought about the ballpark he is pitching in. I have the dimensions of ech park below.
The dimensions of both PETCO (at TOP) and Marlins Park (at Bottom) are nearly the same. Both are considered pitchers parks and Bell should be comfortable in both. He has only given up one home run this year and that was in Cincinnati. Of course moving to the Marlins kept him in the same league, so not much difference in the batters he is facing as well. So the change of scenery shouldn’t have been the reason for his terrible start.
Then I checked out his pitches and mechanics. While his mechanics seem fine, his control hasn’t. His BB/9 has skyrocketed to 10.38, while is K/9 has sunk to 6.23. His career BB/9 even with 2012 added in is only 3.14 and his K/9 is 9.17. With control problems comes different pitch selection. The problem has been primarily with his fastball. He has been forced to throw less fastballs and therefore depend on his curveball and change-up even more. In fact, on an average night, he has ben throwing a lot more secondary pitches than before. His control issues cause his more problems as well like HIGH PITCH COUNTS. We all know that once a closer has hit 20 pitches and certainly 25 pitches, fatigue can set it. Heath Bell has thrown more than 20 pitches five of eleven appearances and in all of those appearances he blew a save or was hammered. In his three saves, where he appeared to have good control, he needed a total of 35 pitches. That is less than the 46 pitches he needed when he blew his third save of the season.
Ozzie Guillen was correct to remove Bell from the closer role and give him time to work on his control issues earlier in the game. This is a completely fixable issue and Bell should be back in the closer role within a week to ten days.
If you are looking to acquire Heath Bell, now is the time. His value is at a all-time low. Managers will likely give him up for very little. Edward Mujica is not the answer at closer for the Marlin. Guillen knows that as well as Mujica and Bell.
If you own Heath Bell, remain patient. You will get your stud closer back.