There have been questions as to who will end up closing for the Chicago White Sox heading into the 2014 season. Nate Jones has dealt with injuries, as has Matt Lindstrom, who has closing experience. The other arms in the bullpen have have either had their own issues, or have just not performed. It seemed as though Jones would get the role not just by default, and based on his excellent fastball and his potential.
However, the White Sox have added another possible option to close games, picking up Javy Guerra off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Guerra was, at one point in time, the closer for the Dodgers, assuming the role at the end of an excellent rookie campaign in 2011. For the season, Guerra saved 21 games, with a 2.31 ERA and a 1.179 WHiP, striking out 38 batters in his 46.2 innings of work.
While Guerra put together a solid season in 2012 just looking at the regular statistics, he struggled during much of the season. Eventually replaced at closer by Kenley Jansen, Guerra put together a solid 2.60 ERA, but had a 1.489 WHiP. Guerra not only became more hittable, allowing more hits in fewer innings, but he struggled with his control as well, walking 4.6 batters per nine innings. Those numbers indicated that Guerra should have had a 4.29 ERA, according to his xFIP.
Last season, the wheels completely came off. Javy Guerra appeared in nine games, all during the month of May, where he posted a 6.75 ERA and a 1.969 WHiP. While Guerra managed to strike out 12 batters in his 10.2 innings, he also allowed 15 hits and six walks. Guerra was banished to the Albuquerque Isotopes of the Pacific Coast League, where he remained for the rest of the season.
Now, with all the additions that the Dodgers made to their bullpen, they simply did not have room for Guerra any longer. Yet, just because he flamed out in Los Angeles does not mean that he could not be a viable option for the White Sox. He has struggled at times during Spring Training, but has managed to post a 2.25 ERA despite allowing nine hits and four walks in his eight innings. Yet, Guerra still has that mid 90’s fastball to go along with a decent curve and slider.
If the White Sox are able to get Javy Guerra straightened back out, he could emerge as a possible candidate for the closer spot during the season. As it stands, Guerra may slot into a middle relief role in the bullpen until he proves that he is able to recapture his form from the 2011 season.
There may not be a lot expected from Javy Guerra, but he could well prove to be a useful part of the White Sox this season. If he performs well, then the White Sox have identified another piece to their bullpen. If not, Guerra did not cost them anything for the experiment.