CHICAGO (WSCR) — So far this season, Matt Thornton has struggled to close out games for the Chicago White Sox. He has three blown saves, an 0-1 record and a 2.73 WHIP.
But a closer’s struggles can lead to confidence issues, and that, according to one former All-Star closer, can be extremely detrimental to a team.
“The most important part, and the most underrated part of a ball club is the confidence of your closer,” former MLB closer John Smoltz said on the Mully and Hanley Show. “And you can put your closer into some unwinnable and unsavable situations, and that could add to the demise of a bullpen.”
LISTEN: John Smoltz On The Mully And Hanley Show
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Ozzie Guillen will now have to figure out how to keep Thornton actively pitching so that he can restore his confidence, but also put the best pitcher out there to ensure that the team wins games.
“I can tell you, it’s an under appreciated role, and it’s an under appreciated part of your club,” Smoltz said. “And those guys have to get up, they have to their best stuff every time they get up. A starter can work his way out of trouble, can work his way deep into a game and not have his best stuff, but a closer can’t.”
In essence, a closer has to be able to flip the switch and get themselves ready to pitch at their best, against the best that the batters have to offer, sometimes with short notice.
“In the ninth [inning], everybody knows what’s at stake,” Smoltz said. “And they’re locked in. And that’s the nature of the beast, and that’s why you have to have a bad memory as a closer, and you have to be able to go out there, and one hitter at a time, get them out.”
With pretty much everything else clicking for the White Sox, the closer struggles can be either minimized, or in games like Monday night, can come under a microscope.