Aug 6, 2010, 6:30 PM EDT
Unwilling to mess with a bullpen arrangement that has worked very well for the White Sox this season, manager Ozzie Guillen said Friday that Bobby Jenks remains his closer.
Questions were again raised about Jenks’ status after he blew a three-run lead in the ninth Thursday against the Tigers, raising his ERA to 5.13. He’s still a fine 23-for-26 in save chances this season, but he has had three ugly outings since the All-Star break, two of which resulted in losses.
The thing is that even though Jenks isn’t the White Sox’s best or even second-best reliever, reserving him for the ninth inning has worked out quite well for the team this year. Guillen has done a terrific job of playing matchups with Matt Thornton and J.J. Putz earlier on and has gotten great results out of the duo.
It’s just very hard to believe that the White Sox would have a better record with either Putz or Thornton working regularly in the ninth and Jenks drifting in between middle relief and setup work. Putz is currently limiting right-handed hitters to a .131 average. Thornton has held lefties to a .158 average. Both have such exceptional ERAs at the moment in no small part because Guillen can use them to the best of their abilities.
The White Sox are 48-6 when leading after five innings this seasons. Only three AL teams have better winning percentages in that category:
Oakland – .935
Detroit – .921
Minnesota – .920
Chicago – .889
Tampa Bay – .882
Boston – .865
Cleveland – .861
They’re also fifth in the AL when leading after six innings:
Oakland – .977
Minnesota – .962
Tampa Bay – .930
Detroit – .925
Chicago – .911
Boston – .889
Los Angeles – .885
No, Jenks probably isn’t worth his current $5.6 million salary, and it’s doubtful that he’ll be back with the White Sox next year. But, for now, the White Sox are quite likely better off with him pitching the ninth than they would be with any other arrangement.
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