White Sox

Maybe the Sox shouldn't be concerned with who gets saves

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Maybe the Sox shouldn't be concerned with who gets saves

On a team full of question marks, the largest one has, in recent weeks, involved who closes games for the White Sox. In other words: Who's going to rack up saves?

Maybe that's not the question we should be asking.

Jonah Keri wrote an excellent piece for Grantland about abolishing the save statistic, which has shaped bullpen management for over a half-century. The idea of a "closer by committee" has been lambasted, while pitchers who rack up gaudy save totals make tens of millions of dollars.

But a "save" is just a created statistic. Usually, a team's closer is its best reliever. But all the save means is that pitcher was on the mound when his team won -- provided his team had a lead of three or fewer runs.

Not all saves are created equal. Yet a three-run save counts just as much as a one that requires a pitcher to retire the heart of the order with the bases loaded. But thanks to the save statistic, teams won't use their best pitcher if that bases loaded scenario comes up in the eighth inning.

Keri espoused Fangraphs' "shutdowns" and "meltdowns" statistics, which track if a pitcher increased or decreased his team's chances of winning. Essentially, it puts all relievers on equal ground for evaluation.

So here's where the White Sox come into play. Four relievers are apparently vying for saves -- Addison Reed, Hector Santiago, Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton -- but nobody has separated himself from the pack. Thornton is the best and most experienced of the bunch, Reed has the most upside, Crain is a solid veteran and Santiago is an up-and-comer.

With no defined closer, the Sox have a chance to look less at saves and more at matchups. If the Sox need big outs in the eighth inning, they can turn to Thornton. The same goes for Reed in the seventh, eighth, or ninth innings. If both pitchers have already been used, Santiago or Crain could slide into the ninth.

So looking at the Sox bullpen as having a "closer by committee" wouldn't be the right approach. Not putting someone in a rigid closer role allows the Sox have have the flexibility to pick and choose when to use relievers based on the situation.

It appears Ventura's going that route -- at least publicly -- making it the first real stamp he's put on his new team. And he deserves praise for it.

White Sox Talk Podcast: What it would take for the White Sox to sign Manny Machado

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: What it would take for the White Sox to sign Manny Machado

It might be a long shot for the White Sox to sign free agent Manny Machado, but here on the White Sox Talk Podcast, we like dark horses. Chuck Garfien, Ryan McGuffey and Vinnie Duber discuss what it would take to bring Machado to the South Side. Plus, is he "the" guy the White Sox are targeting this offseason? Will the Rockies listen to trade offers for Nolan Arenado a year before he reaches free agency? Plus, Chuck talks about a cost-controlled, All-Star on a rebuilding team that could be an answer at third base.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

On this day in 2005: White Sox pitchers put the CG in Chicago

On this day in 2005: White Sox pitchers put the CG in Chicago

Mark Buehrle. Jon Garland. Freddy García. José Contreras.

The 2005 White Sox had four consecutive complete games to finish off the 2005 ALCS — Contreras took his turn in Game 5 against the Angels 13 years ago Tuesday. How special was that run of starting pitching to finish that series? Consider the following six statements:

— No team has had more than two complete games in a single postseason, let alone a postseason series, since.

— There has been a grand total of four complete games in 188 postseason games (through Monday) since the beginning of 2016.

— Those 2005 White Sox remain the only team with four complete games in a single LCS (which went to a best-of-seven format in 1985).

— They are the only team since the 1968 Tigers (in the World Series) with at least four complete games in any postseason series.

— They are the only team since the 1956 Yankees (in the World Series) with at least four consecutive complete games in a series. (The Yankees had five in a row: Games 3 through 7.)

— They are the only team since the 1928 Yankees (in the World Series) with at least four consecutive complete-game wins in a series (Games 1 through 4).

Take a moment to look back and appreciate what Don Cooper’s troops were able to accomplish in that series. The way the game is played nowadays, we will never see it again.