It’s been a rough go for closers in 2012

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Opening Day isn’t even over yet — only 13 games are in the books as of this writing — yet we’ve already seen three blown saves, two from very unlikely sources. The joke yesterday that this might be The Year of the Pitcher again. It doesn’t, however, look like it will be The Year of the Closer.

Let’s run it down:

NY Yankees: Mariano Rivera – future HOF takes blown save, loss in debut
Detroit: Jose Valverde – After going 49-for-49 in 2011, blows save in opener
Cleveland: Chris Perez – Blows three-run lead in ninth, Indians lose in 16
Chi Cubs: Carlos Marmol – Lost opener after entering tie game

And, of course, one-sixth of baseball’s closers are currently on the disabled list:

Boston: Andrew Bailey (thumb surgery, out 3-5 months)
Cincinnati: Ryan Madson (Tommy John surgery, out for season)
Kansas City: Joakim Soria (Tommy John surgery, out for season)
Tampa Bay: Kyle Farnsworth (elbow strain, out 4-6 wks)
Washington: Drew Storen (sore elbow, out 2 weeks)

So, maybe the eighth inning is a lot easier after all. Unless you’re Kerry Wood.

Report: Nationals sign Joaquin Benoit to a one-year deal

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Nationals have signed reliever Joaquin Benoit to a contract. Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post adds that it’s a one-year major league deal worth $1 million.

Benoit, 40, spent last season with the Phillies and Pirates. He put up a mediocre 4.65 ERA with a 46/22 K/BB ratio across 50 1/3 innings. Only 8/13 innings came with the Pirates as he dealt with a left knee injury that kept him out of action for much of the final month and a half. He also left the team in mid-September to attend to a family matter in the Dominican Republic.

Given his age and declining performance, as well as the Nationals’ bullpen depth, Benoit doesn’t figure to pitch in many high-leverage spots, but that could change with injuries.