Charlie at Bucs Dugout has a good read in "How will Torres be used next year?" where he addresses how Torres may be used. He uses Tracy's history of how he handled Gagne in LA as a measuring stick. It is a very good read and very insightful. It would be a good idea to read Charlie's entry as a point of reference before continuing.
I decided to take a look at things from a similar, but different, angle. Looking back over the last 7 seasons, I wanted to see how many games the Pirates played that were one run games. I also wanted to see how many games were considered a blowout, five run difference in the final score.
I found some interesting things. Some of the things shocked me, some just made me realize there will be plenty of opportunities for Torres to get in games.
Here is what I found...
Over the 7 seasons since 2000, the Pirates have averaged approximately 48 1-run games per season. Their average record in those games was 21-27, with 2 seasons above .500.
The Pirates have averaged approximately 44 blowout games in the 7 seasons. The average record was 17-28 in those games.
Taking the number of blow outs from a 162 game season leaves approximately 118 non-blowout games. Plenty of opportunities for Torres to get his games in.
Taking it a step further, the median between the number of non-blowouts and the number of 1-run games is roughly 83.
Why did I take this number? Figuring Torres would likely appear in most games that are close and every game that is 1-run, I took the number of most likely games he would appear in and assumed he would appear in some other games that were close. It is a stretch I know, but it gives a good idea of how many games he could appear in.
How close is the number 83 to Torres' season averages in the last 3 years? He has appeared in an average of approximately 85 games a season.
The workload will be there, it depends on how Tracy handles Torres. If Gagne is an accurate measuring stick, Torres will maintain his recent workload. If the Pirates continue to play in close games, the workload will not change for Salomon.
If we look at last season with Gonzalez, Tracy tried to limit Gonzo's appearances. He used Torres in the role of shutting teams down when they were ahead, giving the Pirates a chance to get the lead in the 9th. Torres already has handled the closer role, just not the glamor position of saves. He was used to shut down teams for a chance to get the lead late, just not strictly in protecting a lead.
A true closer, in my mind, is the shutdown guy who ends a game, whether ahead or behind, giving his team the chance to win.