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The Two Joes

2007/09/06

Joe Borowski earned his AL-leading 40th save Tuesday night in the Indians’ 138th game, on pace to tie or break Jose Mesa’s club record of 46 saves set in 1995. He’s also a virtual lock for a more dubious honor – the worst 40-save season ever.

Prior to this year, Antonio Alfonseca had posted the highest ERA in a 40-save season. El Pulpo gave up 4.24 earnies per nine while saving 45 games for the 2000 Marlins. Barring a sudden bout of unhittability, JoeBo will blow that out of the water.

And yet, Borowski has been strangely effective. His save percentage (87%) compares favorably to elite closers Francisco Rodriguez (87%), Trevor Hoffman (88%) and Mariano Rivera (88%). While 12 of his saves are of the one-inning, ahead-by-three variety, Borowski hasn’t exactly been spared from pressure. According to Baseball Prospectus, no AL pitcher with more than 7 relief innings has been used in higher leverage situations than Borowski. But, oh, that ERA! How can one reconcile his historically bad ERA with the fact that Eric Wedge trusts this man in pressure situations? Simple – the Theory of the Two Joes.

Iron Joe Borowski has appeared in 52 games, saving 38 and winning 3 with an ERA of 2.52 in 50 IP. Glass Joe Borowski has appeared in 7 games, saving 2 and losing 3 with an ERA of 31.76 in 5-2/3 IP. Iron Joe has held hitters to a composite line of .237/.287/.317 over 186 AB. Hitters have pummeled Glass Joe to the tune of .575/.578/1.000 in 40 AB.

Borowski’s split personality may be due to his unhinged right shoulder. The Indians’ playoff fortunes may hinge on whether Borowski can punch out Glass Joe once and for all.

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