Tag:Matt Thornton
Posted on: May 12, 2011 2:41 pm

Thornton doesn't like flawed blown save rules

By Matt Snyder

White Sox relief pitcher Matt Thornton, formerly the closer, has four blown saves this season against just one save. Just as anyone reliever should, Thornton hates blown saves. Except he actually hates how they are scored.

"If you are not in the ninth inning, I don't think it should be a blown save. Also, when you come in with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning, that's not a blown save. It's ridiculous. You start the inning clean yourself and you are the last pitcher out there. You come in and don't get the job done. That's a blown save." (MLB.com)

Well, he does have a few good points. I always think it's weird to see guys who threw in the sixth or seventh inning tagged with a blown save, because there was no chance the guy was going to get a save. And obviously if you inherit runners from someone else, it's hard to place the blame solely on the shoulders of the guy who followed the real problem.

Here's the thing, though: Stats aren't perfect and they aren't always intended to be. It's a pretty rudimentary measure of a player's worth to just look at saves and blown saves, just as it is wins and losses for starting pitchers. Thornton is trying to ensure individual stats are purely individual stats, but in a team sport like baseball with so many moving parts, there are few stats that are not partially to blame (or aided by) teammates and opposition. But let's just focus on the save here.

First of all, what if the closer is brought in in the eighth with no baserunners and loses the lead then? According to Thornton, that shouldn't be a blown save, but it's the closer and if he finished the game -- which you would guess was the manager's intent -- he would get a save. Are official scorers supposed to read the minds of the managers and decide who was going to get the shot in the ninth before tacking on blown saves? Better yet, why not go ask the manager, Thornton's manager -- the great Ozzie Guillen -- surely would love to talk about the blown save rule after a late blown lead. Who wouldn't?

Secondly, the save -- in and of itself -- is a pretty easy stat to accrue. Sure, there are high-leverage saves that are incredibly difficult and Mariano Rivera is definitely a Hall of Famer for all the ones he's handled over the years. But let's remember the save rules. A closer can enter the game with a three-run lead and pitch one inning to get a save. Imagine if pitchers in any other inning were handed the ball and told "just don't give up three runs." Really? It's tough to get three outs before allowing three runs? That's too easy to be a "save," regardless of whether or not it's harder to pitch in the ninth.

How about this one? A closer can enter with the tying run on deck and record one out to get the save.

So let's say the White Sox are leading 6-1. Sergio Santos enters the game, records two outs and then walks the bases loaded before having to be pulled with an arm injury. Thornton is summoned from the bullpen. He allows a grand slam and then walks the next three hitters. (Yes, he would probably be pulled from the game, but please stay with me here, there's a point being made). Then he allows a rocket in the gap that is caught by a diving Alex Rios. Yeah, that's a save for Thornton. Five batters faced, a home run, three walks and a diving catch to bail him out -- and it counts the exact same as if he'd entered the game with a one-run lead in the eighth and struck out the only six batters he faced. I wonder if he'd complain about that?

It's obviously a flawed rule. But that's OK. Just see what Thornton has to further say about it.

"Honestly, blown saves don't matter. Who cares if you blew a save? If the team wins a game, it doesn't matter."

Well, Matt, you care. You don't rant about a subject you don't care about. See, I don't talk about Jersey Shore because I couldn't care less about it. I do care about baseball, which is why I just wrote a few paragraphs about why the save rule is flawed. There's a difference.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: May 1, 2011 1:43 am
Edited on: May 1, 2011 1:51 am

3 up, 3 down: Shields, Halladay baffle batters


By Evan Brunell

3 UP

James Shields, Rays -- Shields delivered a dominating performance and may be on the way back towards being an ace. However, Shields is an inconsistent player, so we'll have to see how he performs more. Still, he twirled a beautiful start against the Angels, going eight strong with an eyebrow-raising 12 strikeouts against one walk, six hits and an earned run. He combined to strike out the first three batters of the game six times, holding them to 1 for 13 with a walk. This game pushes Shields' ERA down to 2.14.

Roy Halladay, Phillies -- What else do you expect? Halladay rivaled Shields for best pitching performance as he pitched a complete game seven-hitter, allowing a walk and punching eight out. The Mets -- especially Jason Bay in an 0-for-4 night with three whiffs -- were helpless as Philly squeaked out a 2-1 victory. That offense is starting to run a little cold in Philadelphia, who were lifted by reserve outfielder John Mayberry Jr.'s first home run of the year plus a sac fly by Placido Polanco. Carlos Beltran did have two hits, continuing a nice return from knee problems.

Michael Brantley, Indians -- The league's best hitting performance that also directly won the game for Cleveland by Brantley, who sparked the team to victory by first tying the game at two-all in the sixth by ripping a solo home run and then scoring the winning run on an Orlando Cabrera single. All in all, the leadoff man who was playing center as Grady Sizemore took a breather, stepped up to the plate with a 3-for-6 night (so did Cabrera), scoring those two runs and driving in himself on the homer to edge the Tigers 3-2. Top Indians pitching prospect Alex White got throw his start by throwing six innings and allowing just two runs despite coughing up four walks and six hits -- two home runs -- and whiffing four.


Matt Thornton, White Sox -- Ozzie Guillen must be furious. In his house, that is, as he was suspended two games for his comments about the umpiring earlier in the week and then tweeting about it. Matt Thornton was called in by bench coach Joey Cora to keep the ChiSox in the game as they trailed 2-1 in the eighth. Phil Humber had a two-run, seven-inning start, calling into question whether he should be demoted when Jake Peavy returns. Against the Orioles, Thornton went as such: single, stolen base, strikeout plus Pierzynski error allowing a run to score and batter to reach, single, wild pitch, walk, infield RBI single, sacrifice fly, and -- that was it for Thornton as Jerry Gray sandwiched two outs around a hit by pitch. Not a good day at the park for Chicago's closer at the beginning of the season who has already lost his job.

Red Sox offense -- What can the Red Sox offense do for you? Well, it can mount a seven-hit attack on Doug Fister, walk six times, and ... leave 11 men on base in a 2-0 defeat. Awesome. David Ortiz want 0-for-4 with two whiffs, coming up in a key situation that could have changed the complexion of the game. The Red Sox left the bases loaded in the first (yes, really) and fourth, with Jacoby Ellsbury ending the threat in the fourth by getting doubled off second in a mistake. Oh, and no Mariners game is complete without a Milton Bradley ejection. The mercurial outfielder delivered a RBI double in the second to send Seattle up 1-0 then argued with the second base umpire about a play in which Miguel Olivo grounded to first and got the heave-ho. Skipper Eric Wedge was in the process of leaving the field after mounting his own complaint, but he didn't get tossed.

Kyle Drabek, Blue Jays -- Drabek got a little lesson in humility Saturday night, lasting just 2 1/3 innings. Drabek has been a bit up and down in his first full major-league season, but was still doing decently enough. Now his ERA rests at 4.45 after giving up five runs on seven hits, four walks and four strikeouts against the Yankees. He was dinked to death, but those runs count and can be even more deflating than a single big blow. You can attribute giving up a grand slam to one misplaced pitch, but you can't justify any of your stuff when everything is being rifled. Oddly enough, no Yank had more than one hit, but everyone did sans Derek Jeter (all together: when will he be demoted to No. 8 in the lineup? -- hey, look a reunion of the top two in the order from last season... at the bottom).

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Posted on: April 20, 2011 1:05 pm
Edited on: April 20, 2011 1:43 pm

Closer watch: Franklin, Nathan, Thornton out

By C. Trent Rosecrans

John AxfordAs we're getting deeper into the first month of the season, some of the "small sample size" arguments are losing their luster and managers are getting itchy. There's no position in baseball that causes more consternation than the closer's spot -- and few are easier to change. 

On Tuesday, Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said Ryan Franklin was out as his closer, joining Ozzie Guillen and Ron Gardenhire in making changes in closers already this season, a common April occurance.

Here's a look at where all the closers in baseball stand at this moment:

Out -- Ryan Franklin (Cardinals), Joe Nathan (Twins), Matt Thornton (White Sox).

We won't know who the replacement for Franklin is until it comes to a save situation (Matt Snyder took a look at who may get the call -- and I'll agree that Mitchell Boggs gets the first shot) and even then, we'll have to have a few save situations until we get there.

Matt Capps has taken over for Nathan, who is not back 100 percent from Tommy John surgery, in Minnesota.

Thornton may get the call if the White Sox get in a save situation, but Ozzie Guillen has no confidence in anybody in his bullpen and has said he just doesn't have a closer.

Hanging by a thread -- John Axford (Brewers), Sean Burnett (Nationals), Kevin Gregg (Orioles).

Axford (pictured) started his season off by blowing a save in Cincinnati and added another Monday night. He's struggled with his command this season, but the Brewers don't have too many better options.

The Nationals have gone from no closer, to Burnett back to no set closer. After Burnett blew a save on Friday, Drew Storen closed with two innings on Sunday against the Brewers. The two are expected to share the job, but Burnett's not "out" because he's still half in.

Hand wringing -- Jonathan Broxton (Dodgers), Joakim Soria (Royals), Francisco Rodriguez (Mets).

These are three marquee names, but there's plenty of worry surrounding the trio.

Soria has struggled and has a 5.59 ERA, blowing one save, while Broxton hasn't blown a save, but has given up plenty of runs. He has an ERA of 6.14 and his manager's vote of confidence.

K-Rod, well, he's got plenty of issues, including a contract with a vesting option that the Mets aren't really interested in seeing him meet. That said, it's not like he's getting a lot of chances to close out Met victories for the team with the National League's worst record.

Nobody's perfect --  Brian Fuentes (Athletics), Carlos Marmol (Cubs), Jon Rauch (Blue Jays).

Rauch has been good, converting all three of his saves this season, but the return of Frank Francisco complicates things for him in Toronto.

Solid -- Mariano Rivera (Yankees), Heath Bell (Padres), Neftali Feliz (Rangers), Huston Street (Rockies), Joel Hanrahan (Pirates), Leo Nunez (Marlins), Chris Perez (Indians), Brian Wilson (Giants), Craig Kimbrel (Braves), J.J. Putz (Diamondbacks), Jose Contreras (Phillies), Jose Valverde (Tigers).

Sure, Rivera blew a save last night. I think Joe Girardi may give him another shot.

If a save falls in a forrest -- Francisco Cordero (Reds), Jonathan Papelbon (Red Sox), Brandon Lyon (Astros), Brandon League (Marienrs), Kyle Farnsworth (Rays), Jordan Walden (Angels).

If the rest of the closers are in a "small sample size" argument right now, these guys have a "tiny sample size."

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Posted on: April 15, 2011 7:54 pm
Edited on: April 15, 2011 7:56 pm

White Sox have AL's best bullpen?

By Matt Snyder
It's no secret the White Sox have had issues closing out games this season. Matt Thornton entered the season as the closer, with Bobby Jenks out of the way, and has yet to record a save in four chances. Chris Sale has the team's lone save, though he's blown two. Tony Pena also checks in with a blown save. Now, the White Sox appear ready to use Sergio Santos as the closer.

Regardless, Ozzie Guillen is tired of talking about it and went a little too far in trying to make an emphatic point.

"Nobody in the American League has a better bullpen than the White Sox." (Chicago Tribune )

Taken as a stand-alone comment, it's pretty ridiculous, even while keeping in mind the small sample of what we've seen so far and that a few of them (specifically Thornton and Sale) haven't pitched nearly to their ability.

Still ... the White Sox have a 6.14 bullpen ERA. Only the Red Sox are worse in the AL. They've blown six saves and closed only one. No one has fewer saves and no other team has more than four blown saves. Opposing teams are hitting .310 off the White Sox relievers, which is the worst mark in the league. They relief corps has also allowed the highest on-base percentage and slugging percentage to opposing teams. They're tied for the most doubles and home runs allowed, while sporting a pretty big lead in most total bases allowed.

Basically, the numbers actually say the complete opposite of what Guillen. The White Sox have, to this point, had the worst bullpen in the AL.

But let's remember the context of what was going on here. Guillen was simply trying to say he had confidence in his guys and that the performance to this point isn't indicative of the potential they possess. I'd agree that they're far better than they've pitched and I'm not surprised one bit Ozzie went a bit overboard in his statement. He's Ozzie Guillen. That's what he does.

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Posted on: April 13, 2011 10:13 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 11:50 am

Guillen: 'I don't have any closer'

By C. Trent Rosecrans

I don't really root for or against teams, but there is some fun as a blogger in the White Sox losing, because it means the most entertaining manager in the game, Ozzie Guillen may have something fun to say.

After the White Sox blew another lead on Wednesday, he had didn't disappoint:

"I don't have any closer," Guillen said. "I don't. Then we will see. From this point on, you just scratch your head and second guess yourself what you're doing wrong, bringing people to the mound with a  three-run lead for the third time and we can't hold the lead. That's not a good sign. 

"I see the same [stuff] you guys see. Exactly same [stuff.]

You can see the video of Guillen here:


The White Sox bullpen has been a disaster, blowing a late lead three days in a row. The White Sox were able to bounce back to win in extra innings on Tuesday. In just 12 games this season, the White Sox have blown six saves, four of them were blown by Matt Thornton. Chris Sale, who has the team's only save, also has a blown save.

Guillen said he went into Wednesday's game ready to use all three of his potential closers -- Sale, Jesse Crain and Thornton -- and he did just that.

After John Danks allowed just one run in eight innings, Sale allowed three straight hits to start the ninth, before he was replaced by Crain, who walked a batter and struck out another. Thornton came in with bases loaded and one out, gave up a bloop single to Josh Willingham to tie it before getting out of the inning, only to give up the lead in the 10th.

Back-to-back walks in 10th and then a single by Coco Crisp, Daric Barton, another single to score two more, giving the A's a 7-4 victory.

The only one, it seemed, that was stepping up their game was Guillen's son Oney, who actually had a good tweet on the situation.

Oney Guillen

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Posted on: April 9, 2011 2:14 pm

Despite blown save, Thornton's job secure

By Evan Brunell

ThorntonMatt Thornton blew his second save of the season in as many opportunities Friday night when the White Sox gave the Rays their first win of the season.

Dan Johnson provided the killing blow with a three-run blast in the ninth inning, all too fitting for Tampa Bay as Johnson was tabbed as Manny Ramirez's replacement in the DH spot. Johnson's home run capped five runs off the lefty, although all five were unearned thanks to a throwing error by Alexis Ramirez later followed by an error by Juan Pierre on a fly ball.

"Other than the homer, I thought I was throwing well," Thornton told the Chicago Sun-Times of the disastrous ninth inning.

Manager Ozzie Guillen, for his part, refused to create a closer controversy as he realizes that what happened was largely out of his control.

"That’s a game to save or lose, but obviously we didn’t help ourselves," he said. "[Thornton] gave up the runs, but we didn’t help him."

Thornton is in the first year of being a closer after replacing Bobby Jenks. Guillen never seemed to warm to Jenks and the two had a much-publicized war of the words over the season that Boston manager Terry Francona had to step in to quell. Guillen has at times had a quick trigger finger to replace his closer and with Chris Sale in the bullpen, has someone to turn to. But Thornton's role will not change.

"He’ll get most of the save situations," he noted. "[There were] a couple broken-bat hits, and the only ball hit hard was the home run. We made a couple mistakes, and that was the game. We played very bad baseball in the ninth."

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Posted on: March 17, 2011 12:26 pm

Thornton grabs closer's gig for White Sox

ThorntonBy Evan Brunell

It appears that Matt Thornton will be the White Sox's new closer, as Peter Gammons relays Ozzie Guillen's intention to give Thornton "first dibs."

This will be Thornton's first time closing, but he has quite the pedigree for it. The 34-year-old has been one of the game's best left-handed relievers over the last three seasons, posting a 2.70 ERA in 200 1/3 innings, punching out 245 and walking just 59. The stuff made of out closers is what Thornton is made out of: those who limit hits and strike out a ton of batters.

Thornton ranked second in WAR among all relief pitchers in the last three years with a 6.6 mark and only Mariano Rivera higher at 6.9. Coming in third, perhaps surprisingly, is Jonathan Broxton at 6.2 and then Jonathan Papelbon at 6.1, rounding out relievers who accumulated at least six WAR. In terms of xFIP, Thornton actually beats out Rivera, 2.71 to 2.77. (Broxton came second at 2.73.)

So yeah, Thornton should do fine.

The one drawback is that the lefty has marginal experience as closer, but did notch eight saves last season, totaling 17 for his career. The questions surrounding Thornton's adjustment to closing is enough Guillen wouldn't hesitate to remove Thornton from the gig if required, using a shorter hook than he admitted he deployed with ex-closer Bobby Jenks.

Should Thornton fail, the role would likely fall to Chris Sale, who was in college at this time last year. Sale was drafted in June, debuted in the majors by year's end and is now slated to be Thornton's setup man.

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Posted on: March 6, 2011 12:53 pm

White Sox give Thornton an extension

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Matt ThorntonThe White Sox agreed to a two-year extension worth $12 million with reliever Matt Thornton, the team announced.

Thornton will make $3 million this season and is guaranteed $5.5 million for 2012 and 2013. The team holds a $6 million option for the 2013 season with a $1 million buyout.

An All-Star last season, Thornton went 5-4 with a 2.67 ERA with eight saves in 61 appearances. He struck out 81 batters in 60 2/3 innings, while walking 20.

With Bobby Jenks gone, Thornton, 34, is the favorite to take over as Chicago's closer.

This spring, he's made two appearances, giving up four hits and no runs, striking out one in two innings of work.

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Category: MLB
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