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The White Sox ended their save drought Monday. Santos, the quencher, now has the inside track on closures, per Ozzie Guillen. Jump into the saves chase; at least this one isn't a blind expedition. Santos has not given up a run since spring and, more importantly, showed some sturdiness in a role that has been otherwise shaky.
The righty, who has pitched for only a few years, showed his work-in-progress command (eight of 16 pitches in the zone) but also his filthy arsenal. A closer can get away with less-than-ideal control if he possesses dominant stuff.
Sale and Thornton have looked better lately, and this is far from locked up for the righty, but Santos took advantage of his opportunity in a time of chaos, which is sometimes all that matters. That feat, especially against an offense like the New York Yankees', means something to Guillen, who mentioned Santos as a possibility at the first early-season signs of trouble.
Job security score: 1
Health score: 5
Closer: Jonathan Broxton
Understudy: Hong-Chih Kuo (DL)
General manager Ned Colletti's suggestion of using other options, mainly Kuo and Padilla, in the ninth wasn't a proclamation of a committee setup as originally reported by various outlets. Mattingly spoke to Broxton and assured him he is still the Dodgers' closer. His owners can breathe easy for now, but they're not out of the woods yet.
He's still struggling, and if those issues continue, in the near future he could easily lose the job for the second straight season. Broxton has shown little life on his fastball or between the ears in his 2011 chances; his outings were as clean as a mud bath. Poor heat, corrupted pitching approach, questionable physical fitness - not a promising profile.
Kuo (back), who has had physical and mechanical issues going back to spring training, is eligible to be activated Friday. He gave up a run in a Class A rehab inning Monday and still needs to regain control, and they likely still aren't comfortable pitching him on back-to-back days. When he's right, though, his skills are the best among the backup options.
Padilla has recorded a hold in each of his two appearances since returning to action, including an eighth-inning job Monday. LA views him as a reliable, versatile commodity. Padilla hasn't had many chances to close, but he boasts capable velocity and has displayed a suitable K/9 throughout most of his career.
Kuo remains a solid speculation, and Padilla can still be on your radar if you're in a cavernous league and grasping at straws.
As for the others: Jansen still has capable skills and long-term upside, but he has suffered some blow-up outings and might be losing some trust. Bright side: Mattingly remembers Jansen doing the job with the 'pen under siege last year.
Guerrier is viewed as an important piece of the 'pen, but LA didn't mention him as an option. That probably means they want to keep him in the seventh and eighth innings, where he'd be more useful. Though he has filled in admirably in setup duty, it's hard to trust MacDougal over the long haul in any role.
Job security score: 3
Health score: 4
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