Mount Rushmore of White Sox middle relief: Matt Thornton
The final face for the Mount Rushmore of Chicago White Sox middle relievers is left-hander Matt Thornton, who came out of the Chicago bullpen for 7½ seasons. Like the other White Sox relievers named here, Thornton was not originally a member of the organization.
In March 2006, the White Sox acquired Thornton from the Seattle Mariners for a former No. 1 prospect in the organization that just didn’t quite pan out, outfielder Joe Borchard.
He was a mainstay in the bullpen until July 2013, when he was traded to the Boston Red Sox for minor-leaguer Brandon Jacobs.
Thornton was used in big spots often, with an average leverage index of 1.441 over his 512 appearances for the White Sox, and he was credited with 146 holds and 23 saves. He was never the closer, but he was honored with an All-Star selection in 2010, when he had a career-high eight saves in 61 appearances.
In his Chicago career, Thornton had a 3.28 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 463.1 innings, with per-nine-inning rates of 9.4 strikeouts and 3.0 walks. He posted a sub-1.000 WHIP for the 2008 club that won the AL Central and pitched 3.1 scoreless innings in three appearances of the White Sox four-game loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS.
The Mariners took Thornton 22nd overall in the first round of the 1998 draft from Grand Valley State University in Michigan and he came through their organization as a starter before making his debut with Seattle in 2004. He made one start with the Mariners as a rookie, but that was the last time he took the ball to begin a game.
Thornton later played with the New York Yankees, Washington Nationals and San Diego Padres, retiring after he was released by San Diego in August 2016.