Nate Jones pushes his way into White Sox closer competition

March 12, 2018

Chicago White Sox – The closer gig on the South Side — seemingly in the hands of Joakim Soria at the outset of camp — has turned into a full out competition thanks his bumbling spring (2 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 0 K) and the re-emergence of Nate Jones, who has put together a sterling line in the exhibitions thus far (4 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 5 K, 0 BB). The Chicago Tribune speculates that Jones has actually done enough to take the lead, while other sources are less committal, but we consider this a full tossup, with the remaining spring outings to be the likely determinant to who lands this job.

Updated hierarchy: *Soria | Jones | Minaya.
* = closer-by-committee

Arizona Diamondbacks – There has been no resolution as of yet in the closer competition in Arizona. Both Archie Bradley and Yoshihisa Hirano have been knocked around a little bit this spring, while Brad Boxberger has been clean, but has only thrown 2 innings thus far due to lingering arm soreness. Bradley said recently that he didn’t necessarily want the job, and that he enjoyed his multi-inning role last season — and for what it’s worth, that’s how he’s been deployed so far this spring. We still consider him the slight favorite, though, with Boxberger close behind and Hirano in third.

Hierarchy remains: *Bradley | Boxberger | Hirano.
* = closer-by-committee

Los Angeles Angels – Blake Parker got off to a rocky start this spring, but has settled down over his last few outings and, we believe, is still in the lead here. Cam Bedrosian has looked sharp this spring (3 IP, 0 ER, 4 K), but if Mike Scioscia sticks to his script from last year, then Bedrosian will be his pre-9th-inning relief ace, while Parker will get the saves.

Hierarchy remains: *Parker | Bedrosian | Middleton. 
* = closer-by-committee

St. Louis Cardinals – It’s been nine days since Luke Gregerson last appeared in his first and only spring training game thus far, as an oblique injury has kept him sidelined since then. Gregerson began as the presumptive favorite for the St. Louis closer gig, but his absence means that the door is now open for offseason acquisition Bud Norris. And while Norris hadn’t done much to stake his claim, getting shelled in his first two spring appearances, he did post a clean inning on Saturday. We’ll continue to monitor Gregerson’s injury.

Hierarchy remains: *Gregerson | Norris | Lyons.
* = closer-by-committee