There seems to be this false belief shared across the MLB that the closer of a team must be the guy with experience. If there is a battle to discover whom should begin the year as the closer, the one with experience usually wins. It does not matter how much closing experience or when it was, the manager will hand the ball to the veteran in the ninth because he has done it before. Disregard who has the better stuff or who can help win games in the future. The man whose done it before gets the first shot.
Throughout Spring Training, questions were brought up in Chicago White Sox camp about whom should be penciled in to the closer’s role after the Addison Reed trade. Despite an injury, Nate Jones was the favorite to take over the vacated role, while Matt Lindstrom was another possibility. Jones dominated in Spring Training with a 2.35 ERA and a WHIP of 1.17,while Lindstrom was on the shelf with an injury of his own. Just based on the eye test, it was clear that Jones should be the Opening Day closer.
Manager Robin Ventura waited until hours before the first regular season game to name his closer, and he chose Lindstrom. After recording a save in his first opportunity, Lindstrom picked up the loss after giving up two runs in his second outing. Meanwhile, Jones was unable to record an out in his two appearances and was placed on the disabled list with a muscle strain in his left hip.
Now the Sox find themselves back at square one. The man they labeled their closer of the future is out with an injury that clearly affected his performance, and their veteran has shown that, contrary to what the team brass believed, he does not have the makeup to record the final three outs of a ballgame. It is time to give another person a chance to shut the door in the ninth. Someone who, in Spring Training, was just fighting for a roster spot. That man is Daniel Webb.
Webb was acquired by the White Sox in the Jason Frasor deal in January 2012. In 2012, after trying Webb as a starter, the organization moved him to the pen. Their belief was that his lively arm and array of off speed pitches could make his transition to a long relief role smoother than most. Webb impressed many in his two years in the bullpen while skyrocketing through the Sox minor league system. With a fastball that is clocked around 95-97 MPH, Webb possesses the same ability that Jones has of being able to throw the ball by hitters. What sets him apart from Jones and Lindstrom is that he couples his devastating fastball with a wicked slider and change up. His secondary pitches still need some fine tuning, but as fans saw in his first appearance of the season, they have the capacity to keep major league hitters off balance.
For a team in rebuilding mode, every single player on the major league roster deserves a chance to show that they can be an important part of the future.Plugging guys in a bunch of different spots, and watching them work is what the Sox need to continue to do. With a closer’s makeup, Webb deserves a shot to rack up save opportunities.
Two years ago, the Sox let another budding flame thrower take over in the ninth inning, Reed, and he developed into a quality closer in no time.With the two other options not performing up to par, it only makes sense to give Webb a shot.
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