Arguably the most underrated and overlooked position in baseball is the right-handed middle reliever. If you aren’t a closer and a dominant lefty in the bullpen, chances are no matter your success, you’ll go somewhat unnoticed.
This is exactly what has happened to Chicago White Sox reliever Jesse Crain.
Striking out the side in his one inning of work Wednesday night, Crain continued his stellar start to 2013 as the White Sox defeated the New York Mets 6-2.
Crain now has 21 strikeouts in just 15 innings pitched this season. The 31-year-old veteran also owns a 1.20 ERA, yet little has been made of his brilliant start to the year.
What’s made Crain so successful this season is his ability to throw both his fastball and curveball effectively. With an explosive heater and a hard-breaking hook, Crain appears to be completely locked in and ready for a big year.
Although I highly doubt he’ll be given the chance to close this year, Crain does have the opportunity to claim the Sox setup-man role.
For the first month of the season, skipper Robin Ventura has used a setup man by committee. This can easily change, however, if Crain continues to show he’s deserving of the job.
A strong bullpen is always a vital key for any playoff-hopeful team, and Crain bolsters Chicago’s pen by giving them an experienced right-handed arm. Although he may not get all the credit he deserves, Crain has been a true difference maker for the Pale Hose in 2013.