There’s no shortage of sources of frustration from Monday night’s 5-1 loss to the Red Sox. A borderline dominant start from Dylan Axelrod was flung to the wayside as if it came from a replenishing resource, and Vicente Padilla was credited win the win, which means the anti-perspirant industry was dealt a crushing loss.
But worst of all, the Sox lost because* unvarnished LOOGY Leyson Septimo let three straight lefties best him while Matt Thornton sat out, fully rested.
*They also lost because they couldn’t scrape any runs together off of the strikeout-less wonder Aaron Cook, but that’s another topic.
There’s plenty of second-guessing to be done for Septimo staying in the game after walking the first two hitters in the 8th. The spottiness of his control was known when he arrived from Charlotte, and Ventura has already had to give him a quick hook this season when it was evident that his command wasn’t there, so a tie game in the 8th inning in Boston was a less than optimal time to give Leyson his first crack at ‘working through it’.
Pressed for answers, Ventura gave a generalized ‘what would you have me do?’
"“Right now you don’t have a choice,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “That’s what we are. Whether it’s reasonable that you can do it, we don’t have a choice. We’ve got guys who need to grow up quick and be able to get it done. That’s just where we’re at until guys get healthy.’’"
That may not completely explain why Septimo pitched to Adrian Gonzalez, but certainly points to where the temptation came from.
Right now at the end of games Robin Ventura has a closer who can’t find his slider (Reed), Nate Jones (who has been scored upon in his last three appearances), and the Matt Thornton.
Thornton finding his form and returning to the land of the sub-3.00 ERA’s has been incredibly useful, but Ventura is already riding it for all its worth. Matt’s on pace for 70.1 innings pitched in 77 appearances for the year. If he breaches 70 innings, that would be his highest total since 2009, but the appearances total would be a career-high.
Age 35 is not an ideal time to start setting career-highs in appearances.
With that in mind, and since Matt Thornton is not just the top lefty in the pen, but the top reliever by a mile, Ventura is understandably looking for any opportunities that can be managed by his lesser options. If he wasn’t, he’d be finding himself calling upon #37 every time, and creating a new set of problems.
Ventura certainly wasn’t flawless Monday, but he’s in a situation that’s pushing him to be more aggressive. He could certainly use a lot of Jesse Crain right now, and hopefully that’s about to be fixed.
But since he’s a rookie manager, it might behoove the Sox to make his margin of error a bit larger. Calling for trades or additions is an annoying fan trait, but if the White Sox are going to talk about being the best team they can possibly be, relief help isn’t especially expensive or hard to find.