White Sox sticking with rookie Hector Santiago as closer

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Robin Ventura gave Hector Santiago a public vote of confidence following his first blown save of the season and the manager made it clear last night that he’s sticking with the rookie after a second blown save.

“I think stuff happens, but we’re still going with him,” Ventura told Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune. “He’s going to be fine.”

Maybe, but it seemed pretty clear when Ventura named Santiago the closer and seems even more obvious now that he’s no better than the White Sox’s fourth-best reliever behind Matt Thornton, Addison Reed, and Jesse Crain.

And now Santiago has two blown saves with an 8.53 ERA in seven appearances, canceling out an excellent 10/1 K/BB ratio by serving up four homers in just 6.1 innings. Meanwhile, the trio of Reed, Thornton, and Crain have combined for a 1.13 ERA and 28/3 K/BB ratio in 24 innings with only Crain serving up a homer.

Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland avoid arbitration

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Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that the Diamondbacks and reliever T.J. McFarland have avoided arbitration, agreeing on a $1.45 million salary for the 2019 season. McFarland, in his third of four years of arbitration eligibility, filed for $1.675 million while the Diamondbacks countered at $1.275 million. McFarland ended up settling for just under the midpoint of those two figures.

McFarland, 29, was terrific out of the bullpen for the D-Backs last season, finishing with a 2.00 ERA and a 42/22 K/BB ratio in 72 innings. While the lefty may not miss a lot of bats, he does induce quite a few grounders. His 67.9 percent ground ball rate last season was the third highest among relievers with at least 50 innings, trailing only Brad Ziegler (71.1%) and Scott Alexander (70.6%).

McFarland was dominant against left-handed hitters, limiting them to a .388 OPS last season, but the D-Backs deployed him nearly twice as often against right-handed hitters, who posted an aggregate .764 OPS against him. It will be interesting to see if the club decides to use him more as a platoon reliever in 2019.