Ozzie Guillen has been playing musical relievers after Opening Day closer Matt Thornton blew all four of his early save chances (with the help of some shoddy defense).
Sergio Santos was the latest White Sox reliever to be handed a late-inning lead last night and the converted shortstop closed out a 2-0 win with 1.1 scoreless innings against the Yankees.
He looked good enough converting the four-out save (or the rest of the bullpen has looked bad enough) that afterward Guillen indicated Santos is now at the top of the closer heap.
Thornton hasn’t pitched nearly as poorly as his four blown saves would suggest and he has a long enough track record of excellence as a setup man that sticking with him as closer wouldn’t be a bad move, but giving Santos a shot with ninth-inning duties isn’t a bad idea either.
Santos was the Diamondbacks’ first-round pick in 2002 as a shortstop, but after hitting just .248 with a .699 OPS in more than 3,000 trips to the plate in the minors he moved to the mound in 2009. He cracked the White Sox’s bullpen coming out of spring training last year and has a 2.44 ERA with 70 strikeouts in 63 innings since, averaging 95.7 miles per hour with his fastball and serving up a grand total of just two homers.
Chicago’s bullpen has been ugly early on, but Thornton is a good bet to get back on track and join Santos, Chris Sale, and Jesse Crain in a potentially dominant late-inning quartet.
The Game: Los Angeles Dodgers @ Chicago Cubs NLCS Game 6
The Time: 8:00 PM EDT
The Place: Wrigley Field, Chicago
The Channel: FS1
The Starters: Kyle Hendricks (Cubs) vs. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)
We’re pulling out the big guns for this one. The Cubs took Los Angeles by storm again in Game 5, closing out their road trip with an eight-run spread over the Dodgers, and tonight they’ll try to clinch the NLCS on home turf in Game 6.
Pitching-wise, it’s a rematch of Game 2 with Kyle Hendricks (16-8, 2.13 ERA) and Clayton Kershaw (12-4, 1.69 ERA) on the mound. Kershaw took the first set against the Cubs, going seven scoreless innings with six strikeouts in Game 2 while Hendricks held the Dodgers to a single run over 5 1/3 innings. Adrian Gonzalez was the only Dodger to capitalize on Hendricks’ cutter, going yard in his first at-bat to generate a 1-0 lead.
The Cubs’ biggest strength so far this series has been an electric offense, something the Dodgers have struggled to replicate against left-hander Jon Lester and Joe Maddon’s airtight bullpen. While they’ve already beaten Hendricks at Wrigley Field once this October, they’ll need Kershaw to go the distance in another playoff gem if they intend to keep the Cubs’ championship hopes at bay with a 3.4-run average. Should Kershaw and his crew knot the series again, the tiebreaker will fall to Rich Hill and Jake Arrieta in Game 7.
In a show of good sportsmanship, the Cleveland Cavaliers have moved their championship ring ceremony start time back to 7 PM EDT to avoid conflicting with the start of the World Series opener on Tuesday. The Indians are set to host Game 1 at Progressive Field on October 25, while the Cavs will open the 2016-17 NBA season against the New York Knicks at the nearby Quicken Loans Arena, preceded by a ceremony recognizing their first franchise title.
In the event that the Indians clinch a World Series title, it’ll be the first time Cleveland has seen two championships in the same calendar year since 1948, when the Indians’ last Series title came on the back of the Cleveland Browns’ All-American Football Conference championship against the Buffalo Bills. The same was true for the Dodgers in 1988, when their World Series win against the Athletics coincided with the Los Angeles Lakers’ 11th championship, while Chicago has yet to see a multi-title year among their NBA, NHL, NFL, and MLB franchises.
Regardless of the Series’ outcome, Cleveland fans will get the chance to revel in one long-awaited championship win on Tuesday before watching the beginning of a nail-biting conclusion to another long-awaited playoff run. The Cavaliers are scheduled for 7 PM EDT on October 25, while the Indians will take the field at 8 PM EDT.