Sunday, February 03, 2008

Milwaukee's Eric Gagne Has Help Waiting in Wings

The Brewers closer's job belongs exclusively to Eric Gagne, who has been reported by various sources to be in good shape despite some relatively minor health issues at the close of last year, and a bit of a stumble in Boston attributed to trying too hard.

Though Gagne may never again be the phenom he was in Los Angeles, the Milwaukee brain trust saw enough of him in Texas to believe he can still be effective now at age 32. But just in case, former Royals middle reliever David Riske has been brought in as insurance.

Though Riske failed previously as a closer in Cleveland, he continues to be envisioned as possible late inning specialist, as his three-year, $13 million Brewers contract contains a number of incentives for saves.

Riske -- also 32 -- has been shown to be surprisingly durable after several seasons of hard throwing, and his 2.45 ERA over nearly 70 innings last year in Kansas City shows he may finally have matured enough to discover what it takes to pitch under pressure.