Baseball Prospectus (premium) has an article abouthow the save statistic, and not game situations dictates the usage of closers. They use the Tigers as an example of this:
Now I don’t post this to be critical of Trammell, and if you read the rest of Sheehan’s article he’s not picking on the Tigers either. He’s just using them as a point of illustration. Sheehan’s main point is that the closer isn’t necessarily the best pitcher in the bullpen, and that managers use the closer position as a crutch. No one will question using Urbina in the 9th of a close game, so it’s an easy decision.
Trammell is definitely an old school manager, who subscribes to old school theories, and I don’t expect him to change anytime soon. But thinking back to the debacle in Texas, when the bullpen was faltering, why not bring in your closer in the 5th inning to stop the bleeding, instead of recently called up Craig Dingman. I know that Urbina actually lost the game later, and Dingman did end the inning. However, was Dingman really the best option at that point?
I must admit that it didn’t occur to me to put in Urbina in the 5th inning either, but it makes sense. If you get those outs in the 5th inning, then maybe the outs in the 9th inning aren’t as important.