h2h Corner ~ Bobby Jenks Takes a ride on the Closer Carousel (UPDATE)

So, the Twinkies and Indians have had issues with closers staying healthy/good. Now, it appears, the White Sox have trouble. It looks like Bobby Jenks will not be able to pitch on opening day.

This means Ozzie Guillen will be turning to Matt Thornton, a lefty who was drafted in the first round by the Mariners in 1998. Thornton, 33, has been better than Jenks over the last two years, posting a 2.71 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and a 10.6/9 K-rate. He has averaged 82 Ks over the last two years – a phenomenal number for a reliever in this era. While he has a better K-rate against lefties, he basically pitches just as well against right handers. This is important for any lefty closer as the majority of hitters are righties. If a closer can’t get out righties consistently, they won’t stick as closers long. Righties are hitting .232 against Thornton with a .319 OBP and .364 SLG. Meanwhile, lefties are hitting .232 with a .312 OBP and .367 SLG.

Thornton appears to be a safe beat for a handful of saves (which are incredibly valuable in some leagues) with clear upside to double digits.

In addition, Jenks has long been rumored to be on his way out of Chicago. So it’s possible Thornton will bookend the season as the White Sox closer. This gives him good value in mixed leagues, but great value in deep/AL-only leagues.

FB101’s 411: If you own Jenks, grab Thornton. If saves really matter, pay a bit more for Thornton or draft a bit higher.

According to ESPN Chicago, “An MRI on Bobby Jenks’ right calf revealed inflammation but no structural damage, and the Chicago White Sox closer will try to pitch through the injury.”

Still, if you are drafting Jenks, you better draft Thornton. In deeper leagues, JJ Putz also gets an uptick in value.

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