Commentary

Sale becomes White Sox closer

Updated: May 5, 2012, 1:56 PM ET
By AJ Mass | ESPN.com


Nobody on the Chicago White Sox coaching staff ever questioned how good Chris Sale's stuff would be this season. What they were concerned about was the wear and tear on his arm that would come as a result of his moving out of the bullpen and into the rotation.

[+] EnlargeChris Sale
David Banks/Getty ImagesChris Sale offers completely different fantasy value as a starter versus as a reliever.

With that fear possibly being reinforced by Sale's recent tenderness and tightness, Robin Ventura is taking no chances. He is pulling Sale from the rotation and moving him into the closer's role.

Sale wanted to keep his job as a starter, and truth be told, he was doing just fine in that capacity. A 3-1 record and 2.81 ERA has him tied for 26th among starting pitchers on the ESPN Player Rater. However, the fact that he is already experiencing some minor arm issues raises red flags that the team simply cannot ignore. Last season, Sale threw 1,105 pitches in relief over the entire season. In just over a month of 2012, he's already at 501 pitches.

Moving him to the 'pen, where his workload can be more easily spaced out, seems to be the correct move at this time. While Sale is obviously disappointed and reportedly unhappy with the decision, back in the spring he seemed to understand the wisdom of this move when he told reporters, "At the end of the day, it would be better for us as a pitching staff if I was throwing less pitches and feeling better next time out."

For now, Dylan Axelrod and Eric Stults likely will audition for the spot in the rotation, but neither pitcher is expected to have much fantasy impact. Owners of Hector Santiago, who will lose out on saves going forward, can probably feel free to cut the pitcher outright. With three left-handers in the mix for short relief to choose from ahead of Sale -- Matt Thornton and Will Ohman being the others -- it is unlikely any of them will get a ton of work going forward.

Addison Reed's chances of moving into the closer role also take a huge hit. With Sale available for the job, there's no reason for Ventura to push the youngster. Owners who speculated on Reed for saves might want to use that roster spot for other purposes.

For owners who already have enough closers, though, the move of Sale to the 'pen might well be an opportunity to deal some saves in order to improve your team in other areas. Certainly, Sale has a different kind of value going forward as a reliever than as a starter, but that value is still present.

The White Sox made a move that they feel is best for their team going forward. It behooves you to take stock of your own roster and do the same.

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