Dan Kolb is to blowing saves for the Atlanta Braves what Jessica Simpson is to losing a spelling bee -- both are a sure thing.

These days, Kolb is looking more like a human piata than he is a major league pitcher. You could blindfold batters and they would still get good swings on him -- that's when he's not issuing free passes right and left.

In only 21 innings this year, Kolb has already walked 19 batters, as opposed to only 15 walks in 57 1/3 innings last season with the Milwaukee Brewers. Many of those 19 walks have come to the leadoff batter, a bad sign for any pitcher.

The Braves' so-called closer this season is slowly closing the door on what appeared to be a promising career.

Kolb is 1-5 this season, with four blown saves after saving 39 games last year for the Brewers. In his previous two years, Kolb's ERAs were a fantastic 1.96 and 2.98. This year it's an abysmal 7.29.

Kolb's latest catastrophe came Thursday night against the Washington Nationals. After the Braves had what appeared to be a safe enough lead to bring the struggling closer into the game in the eighth inning.

But Kolb could only record an out and was taken out of the game.

His stat line featured numbers that make Braves' fans feel sick at their stomach: 3 hits, 4 runs and one walk.

Yet, what amazes me, is the guy still is playing at the major league level.

After the second or third blown save, I would have had serious thoughts about demoting the poor soul to the minor leagues to get his act in order. After what happened against the Nationals, those thoughts would have become reality Friday morning.

But watching this guy struggle as bad as he has makes me wonder what happened to him to make him fail as miserably as he has.

Maybe it's the pressure of playing for a perennial title contender. Lets face it, there's not much to get excited about playing with the Brewers after June 1. But with the Braves, every game down the stretch is crucial and could have division or playoff hopes hanging in the balance.

His failure is similar to what Mark Wohlers went through in the late 90s. After dominating the league for a couple of years with the Braves as a closer, he quickly lost his control, his job as a closer and then his job period.

I hope Kolb can figure it out because the Braves need stability in the bullpen if they want to contend in October. A closer-by-committee just won't get the job done.

If Kolb can somehow regain the form that made him a top-notch closer in 2004, the Braves will be a tough out in the playoffs. If his struggles continue, a familiar phrase comes to mind -- the hits just keep on coming.

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