The Chicago White Sox's 1-2 punch at the top of the starting rotation will be complemented this season by the 1-2 punch at the back end of the bullpen.
Where Chris Sale and Jake Peavy are being looked upon to give the White Sox a chance to win each and every night they take the mound, a different pair will be entrusted to make sure late leads aren't squandered.
That's the initial thought, anyway, as closer Addison Reed figures to have a fellow flame-throwing co-conspirator in Nate Jones, who is primed to become a full-time setup man. Manager Robin Ventura tried to suggest over the winter that the closer spot is up for grabs, but the job clearly belongs to Reed for now.
Complementing that well-rounded collection of arms will be the versatile Hector Santiago, who can not only pitch late in games if needed, he can also be used in long relief. Add the fact that he is left-handed and Santiago could find himself in any of a number of roles this season, including spot starter if needed.
Depth has also shown itself this spring. Brian Omogrosso has pitched well and could land a roster spot if Crain isn't able to start the season on time because of a muscle strain in his right leg. Newcomer Ramon Troncoso appears to have recaptured some of the form that helped him to become a mainstay in the Los Angeles Dodgers bullpen for a few seasons.
THREE KEYS TO SUCCESS
If Reed hears Jones' footsteps behind him, that could end up being a good thing. For some, the idea that a teammate might be gaining on you and about to take your job could prove uneasy. More solid work from Jones could create that scenario, but Reed has shown that he can use pressure situations to his advantage. After all, last season he posted a 3.56 ERA over 30 1/3 innings of save situations and a 6.20 ERA over 24 2/3 innings in non-save situations.
As the veterans of the bullpen, Thornton and Crain will need to be steadying influences. For Thornton that means overcoming inconsistencies that have cropped up over the past few seasons and be the left-handed reliever the White Sox can rely on. Including this spring, Crain is starting to show he is susceptible to nagging injuries at age 31. When healthy, Crain has shown he is more than good enough to get the job done so avoiding the injury bug will be huge.
Lindstrom brings another live arm to go along with Reed and Jones and if he can get into a groove, the White Sox can be brutal to contend with after the sixth inning. Lindstrom has spent most of his big-league time in the National League, but in 34 games with the Baltimore Orioles last season he delivered a 2.72 ERA and had 30 strikeouts to 12 walks, while opponents hit .254 against him.