The closer for any Major League Baseball team is a prestigious position. It is the closer that receives bigger contracts than other relievers and receives more glory due to making the final out.
With such importance placed in pitching the night inning, it is no wonder certain pitchers are misplaced when given the label of a closer. Brandon Kintzler, who despite an ERA of 1.80 and 11 saves across 12 tries, is the most unlikely closer in all of baseball.
Kintzler was drafted in the 40th round twice and released after just over a season by the San Diego Padres because of a bad shoulder.
He pitched for a number of teams in independent leagues though not very well and only following a strong outing in the All Star Game of the American Association did he land with another organization in the Majors.
Kintzler pitched that All-Star game against the advice of his agent, not due to an injury, but it meant he had to cancel his contract to appear in a movie as Tim Hudson.
Even with an opportunity to start another career in the film industry, Kintzler did not want to give up on his baseball dream.
Kintzler pitched against six batters and struck out five of them. The following day he was signed by the Milwaukee Brewers to a minor league deal.
In just over one year, Kintzler reached the majors and back in 2013-14 appeared to be a quality middle reliever. Injury struck once again and Kintzler lost his job.
Within one season he reached the majors again and became the closer for the Minnesota Twins, as the team had faith in him pitching the ninth inning.
Kintzler has a mid-90s sinkerball that he lets hitters beat into ground ball outs. However, this season 80% of his pitches have been fastballs and 59% of them are being put into play.
An occasional curve will throw a batter off, but Kintzler has become baseball’s most predictable reliever yet he continues to have success with the Twins.
Off course, the Twins do not have alternatives to choose from as Glen Perkins their established closer and Trevor May his heir apparent are injured.
Ryan Pressly and Matt Belisle have ERAs that average above 7.00. Tyler Duffy has become a multi-inning reliever so that leaves Justin Haley, Taylor Rogers and Adam Wilk and not any of them have pitched well enough to unseat Kintzler.
The uncommon is now commonplace in Minnesota.