Handling a closer's slump no easy feat

Updated: April 10, 2013, 10:53 AM ET
By Buster Olney

If a starting pitcher has a couple of bad starts, Milwaukee Brewers general manager Doug Melvin mused Tuesday, he can always work on some stuff in side sessions in the bullpen. There is time for process, and progress.

If a hitter struggles, he can come out for early batting practice, tinker with his mechanics. There is time for process, for progress.

"But when closers go into slumps," Melvin said, "how do they practice to get better?"

There is no way to replicate the specific conditions that a closer faces, standing on the ledge at the end of each game, and relievers can't throw a lot on the side because of the daily possibility that the bullpen phone could ring for them. Mostly, closers have to work through their problems in games, not an easy thing to do.