It is safe to assume that the White Sox will not make the post-season, so it’s safe to start questioning what will happen in the 2019 season.
But, once he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers prior to the July Trade Deadline, the question of who will be the ChiSox closer has been a bit of a mystery.
Since Soria’s departure, closing duties have been more of a committee duty than a single pitcher’s duty. By the time Soria left, he accumulated 16 saves in 19 opportunities. Nate Jones also closed several games, earning four saves in seven chances. After the July Trade Deadline, Jace Fry has had the majority of opportunities and saves, recording four saves in five opportunities. This does give Fry the best save percentage, especially among men who are still on the team.
But, a few other pitchers have also been tagged as closer in the last six weeks. Along with Fry, Luis Avilan closed seven games and earned two saves, but he – like Soria – is with another team. The White Sox traded him to the Philadelphia Phillies on August 22. Xavier Cedeno is another reliever who is with another team, too. He went to the Brewers at the last minute on August 31.
So, that leaves just a few arms who could take the closing role in the next season. In fact, Jeffrey Flanagan with MLB.com named a few players as he tried to answer five questions about AL Central. He claims that a few other players could be considered for the role, along with Fry –
"“Jose Ruiz, Aaron Bummer, Ryan Burr and Caleb Frare make up that list.”"
September could provide opportunities for these young arms to show what they can do. With veteran Hector Santiago signed through the end of the season, the young pitchers will be able to learn from his skills. But, after 2018, he’s a free agent. If Fry, Ruiz, and company can figure out how to get the job done, the White Sox may not need to sign a veteran reliever for big bucks.
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Of the young arms, Fry has the most experience in the Big Leagues. He had a cup of coffee in 2017 and didn’t really have the right stuff. But, 2018 has been very different. His performance as a real rookie reliever has been notable. In his first month in Chicago, his ERA in May was 0.75. It would have been something for him to maintain an ERA like that, but as of September 6, he’s accumulated an ERA of 3.86 in 50 games and 44.1 innings.
Fry was given one save opportunity prior to Soria’s departure and it was exactly what fans wanted to see. He closed a 3-0 win over the Rangers and in the ninth, he faced three batters, threw 14 pitches, and struck out two. He finished some games prior to the July Trade Deadline, but he didn’t get his second save until August 19 against the Royals.
Fry looks confident on the mound. In his short time as Renteria’s closer of choice, he’s managed to get saves against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit, the Yankees in New York, and the Royals in Chicago. He has also managed to get a win pitching in the ninth inning against the Indians. He has faced some tough teams and succeeded, making him an ideal candidate to be the closer for the 2019 season and beyond.