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.
José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.