Daniel Webb Should Not Close for the White Sox


David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Southside Showdown editor Stephen Forsha noted that there is not yet a good alternative to Ronald Belisario as closer for the White Sox.

I agree.

First, I stand by what I wrote, despite Wednesday’s blown save. Second, alternatives remain scarce.

Rob Flot of The Catbird Seat analyzed early season White Sox bullpen usage.

He pointed out that roles within the White Sox ‘pen shifted because of performance and injuries. Belisario’s performance got him into the closer role when injuries opened up the job. Of course, his performance may lose him that job as well.

Because of his two blown saves in four days, I cannot say with certainty that Belisario will remain the closer, I just don’t think he shouldn’t be the closer, certainly not because anyone else should be.

Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune thinks the White Sox should give Daniel Webb a shot at the closer role.

Sullivan wrote that:

"“If the Sox are really thinking long term, rookie Daniel Webb seems like a better option than Belisario. Is it a risk? Certainly. But so is Belisario.”"

Sullivan then confessed that Webb walks practically everyone in sight, but he waves a rhetorical magic wand over that fact:

"“The drawback is Webb’s control. He has walked at least one hitter in 12 of his 19 appearances, and 18 overall in 26 1/3 innings. But Webb still has a respectable 2.39 ERA over his last 11 appearances, including 10 scoreless outings.”"

There is a fallacy at work here.

Just because Webb has stranded the batters he walked during his 11-game stretch does not mean he will continue to strand base runners at the same rate.

If we look at Webb’s  left-on-base percentage (LOB%), we see it is 84.7 percent, which is 12.7 percent above the league average of 72 percent.

Sullivan mentions Webb’s ERA over this stretch of appearances as a reason to believe he can continue to strand runners at that extraordinary rate, implying we should ignore all those bases-on-balls. This serves only to distort the fact Webb has been as lucky as Belisario has been getting unlucky.

And, wow, has Belisario been getting unlucky.

It’s not that he’s giving up hard contact; it’s that he’s giving up bad contact that ends up in bad places for the White Sox. On Wednesday night, for example, the hardest hit ball he allowed hit him above his right hip.

That’s not good luck.

If you think Belisario is high stress, imagine base runners getting free passes left and right while still depending on batted balls not avoiding fielders. That is what Webb’s tenure as closer would be, and that is why he should not close for the White Sox.

Whoever closes for the White Sox, they will be entertaining.