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Looper Not the Closer for sure Now


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Uggy is the closer for sure now. He will go solo. There are very good Comments here by loop.


Looper demoted but not down on himself


By Harvey Fialkov

Staff writer

Posted September 25 2003


Although slumping Marlins closer Braden Looper has been treated roughly by fans and opposing teams recently, his confidence level remains high.


Unfortunately, with the wild-card berth at stake, Marlins manager Jack McKeon doesn't have the luxury of time to baby Looper, so he officially named Ugueth Urbina his closer before Wednesday's game.


"Right now, I'm going with Urbina to be the closer," McKeon said. "He's a proven guy, and he's been effective of late. Loop hasn't been as effective as he has, but we still have faith in Loop. He'll be all right, and he'll be out there again."


After converting 28 of his first 32 save opportunities and establishing himself as one of the league's top closers, Looper ran into the Braves, the top offensive club in the NL. They have been responsible for three of his six blown saves, with the past two coming on Sept. 14 and 20.


In Looper's past three outings, he has allowed seven hits and eight runs with five walks in 11/3 innings for a 54.14 ERA, sending his ERA from 2.91 to 3.78.


"I have to try not to throw a billion [mph]," Looper said. "I have a lot more confidence in myself than anybody else.


"I had three bad games in 70 appearances. ... It's like if Mike Lowell came back and went 0 for 8 and you said he had a terrible year."


Urbina, 29, a proven closer who has had three seasons with 34 or more saves, was acquired from Texas on July 11 to set up Looper. He has been superb, going 3-0 with a 1.49 ERA, so McKeon reversed their roles Tuesday and brought Looper in to protect a two-run lead in the eighth. Looper walked the first two batters and essentially was booed off the mound.


Chad Fox bailed him out and Urbina pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save in six chances with the Marlins. He had 26 saves in 30 opportunities with Texas.


After watching video, Looper and pitching coach Wayne Rosenthal conferred in a 10-minute bullpen session Wednesday in which he threw about 25 pitches at 80 percent speed. Rosenthal said Looper was landing too soon with his front foot.


"I have to stay upright, more of a rotation side to side instead of up and down like a seesaw," Looper said. "I'm trying to get that good feeling again.


"I've been a big part of this team, and for this team to get where we want to get, I still feel I'll be a big part of it," Looper said.


Rosenthal, a former reliever, said he worked with Looper's mind as much as his delivery.


"A closer needs confidence. They're either a hero or the goat. Sometimes you've got to accept the goat to become a hero again," Rosenthal said. "You've got to go out with confidence even if you're not perfect mechanically."


Rosenthal said by the end of the session, Looper's out-pitch, a two-seam sinking fastball, was back on track.


"The head is an issue with every pitcher whether you're a starter, middle guy or closer," he said.



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