I just can't hold DT/CT back any longer. In this season's debut, we take a look at the situation with Jonathan Broxton in LA and the new closer in Chicago.
Jonathan Broxton was reportedly going to be given a "break" from his closer duties. However, news has been trickling out that Manager Don Mattingly has told Broxton that he is still the closer. We'll see.
So far, 2011 has been a continued disappointment carried over from the second half of last season. Broxton is simply not the pitcher he used to be. The dominant fastball, gone. The swagger, gone. The confidence, shattered (seemingly). At this point, it is hard to tell with any sense of certainty if Broxton will ever recover.
If the dodgers do in fact decide to give Broxton a break from the closer's role, they'll reportedly look to mix-and-match their closer role using Hong-Chih Kuo and Vincente Padilla. However, neither of those names scream solution right now.
Kuo is just now returning from the 15-day DL, where he was out with a back strain. In his early season work, Kuo's velocity and command were both off, so it would be best to wait and see him throw an inning or two before making any moves.
Padilla is also coming off of an injury and a fairly serious one. He had elbow surgery on February 24th of this year and is just now back with the big club. If anything, it's encouraging to see that his velocity is fine, but command/control can be one of the last factors to come around for a pitcher coming back from an arm surgery.
No matter how Don Mattingley decides to handle this situation, there are question marks abound.
It might be time to put Matt Guerrier on your watch list, as he's probably that bullpen's most consistent option.
On the south side of Chicago, a storm of bullpen blowups has been ravaging the White Sox. Matt Thornton is still throwing gas, but his command has gone MIA to start the season. Chris Sale has been hit-or-miss so far, striking out 11 in 9.1 innings, but also allowing 11 hits, two of which have been home runs.
Enter Sergio Santos.
Santos has been perfect as far as his ERA is concerned and when the Sox needed to shut the door against the Yankees last night, Ozzie Guillen turned to Santos to get a four-out save. He faced the heart of the Yankee lineup in the ninth, allowing a line-drive single to Curtis Granderson, but then getting a double play ground-out from mark Teixeira and strikeout of Alex Rodriguez to end the game.
The way Ozzie goes about things, it's a pretty safe bet that Santos will be the closer as long as he is getting the job done. He doesn't come without risk, however. Santos has some nasty stuff, but he doesn't have the command to keep from allowing a few too many free passes. As long as he continues to rack up the strikeouts, he has a chance to keep his walk rate from hurting him down the line.
While Santos looks like the main man now, it's still extremely early in the season and the south side closer situation is far from settled.