White Sox manager Robin Ventura has avoided naming a closer or even giving strong hints about which way he’s leaning among Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain, and Addison Reed, but Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun Times reports that “the smart money” is on Thornton getting the job.
Thornton struggled with some save chances early last season before giving way to Sergio Santos as the full-time closer, but Santos was traded to Toronto and Thornton has been one of the elite relievers in baseball for the past six seasons.
During that time he’s thrown 370 innings with a 3.21 ERA and 10.0 strikeouts per nine frames, including a 3.32 ERA and 63/21 K/BB ratio in 60 innings last year. Crain has also been a very good setup man for a long time and Reed is a 23-year-old rookie who projects as a dominant late-inning reliever, but in the short term going with Thornton makes sense.
ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that talks between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players’ Association concerning pace of play changes have stalled, which makes it more likely that commissioner Rob Manfred unilaterally implements the changes he seeks. Those changes include a pitch clock and a restriction on catcher mound visits.
Manfred said, “My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players. But if we can’t get an agreement, we are going to have rule changes in 2018, one way or the other.”
The players have made several suggestions aimed at reducing the length of games, such as amending replay review rules, strictly monitoring down time between innings, and bringing back bullpen carts.
It is believed that MLB is proposing a pitch clock of 20 seconds. If a pitcher takes too long between pitches, he will have a ball added to the count. If the hitter takes too long, then he will have a strike added to the count.