Maybe the Sox shouldn't be concerned with who gets saves

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Maybe the Sox shouldn't be concerned with who gets saves

On a team full of question marks, the largest one has, in recent weeks, involved who closes games for the White Sox. In other words: Who's going to rack up saves?

Maybe that's not the question we should be asking.

Jonah Keri wrote an excellent piece for Grantland about abolishing the save statistic, which has shaped bullpen management for over a half-century. The idea of a "closer by committee" has been lambasted, while pitchers who rack up gaudy save totals make tens of millions of dollars.

But a "save" is just a created statistic. Usually, a team's closer is its best reliever. But all the save means is that pitcher was on the mound when his team won -- provided his team had a lead of three or fewer runs.

Not all saves are created equal. Yet a three-run save counts just as much as a one that requires a pitcher to retire the heart of the order with the bases loaded. But thanks to the save statistic, teams won't use their best pitcher if that bases loaded scenario comes up in the eighth inning.

Keri espoused Fangraphs' "shutdowns" and "meltdowns" statistics, which track if a pitcher increased or decreased his team's chances of winning. Essentially, it puts all relievers on equal ground for evaluation.

So here's where the White Sox come into play. Four relievers are apparently vying for saves -- Addison Reed, Hector Santiago, Jesse Crain and Matt Thornton -- but nobody has separated himself from the pack. Thornton is the best and most experienced of the bunch, Reed has the most upside, Crain is a solid veteran and Santiago is an up-and-comer.

With no defined closer, the Sox have a chance to look less at saves and more at matchups. If the Sox need big outs in the eighth inning, they can turn to Thornton. The same goes for Reed in the seventh, eighth, or ninth innings. If both pitchers have already been used, Santiago or Crain could slide into the ninth.

So looking at the Sox bullpen as having a "closer by committee" wouldn't be the right approach. Not putting someone in a rigid closer role allows the Sox have have the flexibility to pick and choose when to use relievers based on the situation.

It appears Ventura's going that route -- at least publicly -- making it the first real stamp he's put on his new team. And he deserves praise for it.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Tim Anderson gives revealing interview about his first season

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Tim Anderson gives revealing interview about his first season

In this episode of the White Sox Talk Podcast, shortstop Tim Anderson joins the podcast and gives a revealing interview with Chuck Garfien about his first season with the White Sox and how adversity he faced in high school still drives him today.

Dan Hayes calls in from Arizona to break down the White Sox-Cubs game. They talk about Lucas Giolito’s White Sox debut, Jose Abreu’s first home run of the spring and the latest Jose Quintana rumors.

CSN’s Siera Santos talks about her conversations with Yoan Moncada and much more.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Fast Break Morning Update: White Sox, Cubs meet in spring training

Fast Break Morning Update: White Sox, Cubs meet in spring training

Here are some of Monday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Tuesday on CSN: Bulls shoot for five straight wins as they battle Nuggets

In midst of career season, Artem Anisimov still not satisfied with overall game

Bobby Portis relishing his chance as starter

Facing Cubs for first time, Rick Renteria happy with White Sox

Draft pick at No. 3 demands guiding 'concept' of what Bears ultimately want to be

Improved defense high on list of White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada this spring

Brett Anderson’s main takeaway from Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio

Fire putting finishing touches on roster as season nears

Bears reportedly won't franchise tag Alshon Jeffery, so what's next?

Prospect Lucas Giolito debuts for White Sox in tie against Cubs