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White Sox' Jenks hearing footsteps

Mark Gonzales on the closer situation on the South Side:

Now that manager Ozzie Guillen has raised the possibility of employing someone other than Bobby Jenks to save games for the White Sox, let's examine the options.

--snip--

It appears a change is imminent, although Guillen didn't rule out sticking with Jenks, who has a 6.75 ERA. More alarming is that opponents are batting .351 against Jenks.

"Whoever is out there, that's the one I think (will be used as a closer)," Guillen said. "I never say I going to do this, and all of a sudden I don't do it. That's not the way I do stuff. You might see Bobby back.

"I got options back out there until (Jenks) comes back and throws the ball the way we think he can. Right now we are going to sit down and see what the options are, and the game is going to dictate who I use, and we go from there."

As the result of his struggles, Jenks' value to other teams may have sunk. But his velocity is back around the 96 mph range, which pins his struggles on poor location.

I snipped all the options: J.J. Putz, Matt Thornton, and rookie Sergio Santos. All of those guys have pitched better than Bobby Jenks. And I suppose all of them might be better than Jenks.

But Jenks has thrown a dozen innings this season. He's throwing hard and getting strikeouts. He's given up a couple of home runs, and issued two or three more walks than you'd like your closer to issue. But for the last four years, Ozzie Guillen believed Jenks was good enough to be his closer, and nothing has happened this season that should change Guillen's mind. If Guillen makes a switch now, it'll be a PEM (Pure ERA Move).

Which, oddly in this case, might not be such a bad thing. With Jenks, you're never quite sure what you're going to get. In his relatively brief career, Jenks has shown high strikeout rates and moderate strikeout rates, high walk rates and low walk rates, low ground-ball rates and moderate ground-ball rates. In 2007 he gave up two home runs in 65 innings; in 2009 he gave up nine home runs in 53 innings.

Much of this is due to the variability that comes with pitching 50-70 innings per season. When you get a minute, take a look at Mariano Rivera's wildly fluctuating strikeout-to-walk ratios over the years. But for whatever reasons, Jenks has never seemed like that sure thing, that blow-'em-away guy every manager (and fan) prefers.

But you know, Putz hasn't been that guy since 2007, Thornton seems a little long in the tooth for a new role, and Santos has pitched the grand total of 41 professional baseball innings.

Let's talk again a month from now.