The presence of Glen Perkins gives the Twins a reliable answer at an important position, because not every AL Central team can be as confident when its closer takes the mound. A look at the situation around the division:
Indians: Piling up 70 saves in his first two seasons in Milwaukee made John Axford a star, but home runs — 10 apiece the past two seasons — caused the Brewers to give up on him. Signed as a free agent by Cleveland, he entered Saturday 9-for-11 this year but had a 7.08 ERA in May and had surrendered three homers already.
Royals: One of the few relievers in baseball as automatic as Perkins, Greg Holland is having another All-Star season. Kansas City’s closer had 13 saves in 14 chances, had struck out 25 batters in 17⅔ innings and had given up only four runs all year.
Tigers: Signed as a free agent to address Detroit’s nagging bullpen weakness, future Twins Hall of Famer Joe Nathan is having the good-but-not-great season that is to be expected from a 39-year-old veteran. His strikeout rate is at a career low, and Wednesday he blew his third save in 14 chances — but he is still a huge upgrade for the Tigers.
White Sox: Figuring a last-place team doesn’t need a lights-out closer, they dealt 40-save Addison Reed to Arizona for a hitting prospect, then held auditions for closer role. Matt Lindstrom won the job, saved six games and tore an ankle ligament; journeyman Roland Belisario gets the job for now.