The Chicago White Sox waited until the last possible moment to reveal who will be their closer to begin the 2014 season.
With a two-run lead still intact, Robin Ventura called upon Matt Lindstrom to close the door. In came the veteran Lindstrom instead of the young flame thrower Nate Jones. Ventura officially announced the decision a few hours prior to first pitch, but many fans did not know the news until they saw Lindstrom jog through the bullpen doors in the ninth.
Lindstrom was injured for most of Spring Training and Jones only gave up two runs in seven plus innings, meaning the veteran did not really “win” the job. The only logical explanation for Ventura’s choice of Lindstrom is experience. Jones is entering only his third season while Lindstrom is in his eighth. Much should not be put in this move at this point in time.
It was the first game of the season, not Game 7 of the World Series. Fans saw in 2012 how quickly Ventura pulled the plug on the “Hector Santiago as closer” experiment. With the Sox in full rebuilding mode it only makes sense to suspect that they would have the guy they expect to have for years to come starting the season in the closer’s role. Lindstrom’s 1.42 career WHIP and 3.55 ERA indicates that he may not last the whole year in such a key role playing home games in a hitter’s ballpark.
Fans started to feel nervous after a Chris Colabello double. Even Ventura was feeling some nerves as he began to warm up Jones.
Lindstrom was able to get the next two batters out to shut the door and ensure a White Sox Opening Day victory. While his first appearance was not flawless, he got the job done. Lindstrom’s off speed pitches were effective and he was able to hit his spots. Jones did not help his cause by giving up the lead today. He could not locate his pitches and his fastball did not have the late movement White Sox fans have seen.
While there is still much to be decided this season, Lindstrom’s first attempt at closing this year was a positive. It is expected that Ventura will call his number the next time a save opportunity comes around, but that is not a guarantee for the rest of the season.