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Nate Jones: Setup Man Poised to Leap Forward in 2014 Fantasy Baseball

By Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Setup Men Poised to Leap Forward: Nate Jones

With closer Addison Reed closing for the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Chicago White Sox will be searching for a new closer among the relievers they possess. Of the names on the White Sox roster, the player that could be considered first for the closer role is veteran Matt Lindstrom who has previous experience as a closer. There is, however, a sophomore reliever that shouldn’t be overlooked. Reliever Nate Jones could lock up the closer role in the Chicago White Sox bullpen for years to come.

By Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Nate Jones, 27, is a two-pitch reliever with a very live fastball. According to FanGraphs, Jones’ two-seam fastball averaged around 97.7 MPH. His second pitch is a slider that improved over the course of the 2013 season. He has also been known to throw a curveball on occasion and he has a developing changeup, but neither offering is used very much. The two-seam fastball has helped him get a nearly 51% ground ball rate.

In 2013, Nate Jones had a 4-5 record with a 4.15 ERA. He struck out 89 batters over 78 innings for a K/9 of 10.3 with a WHIP of 1.22. In fact, not many would realize that among American League relievers, Nate Jones had the fourth most strikeouts. While the ERA is quite high, the White Sox hard-throwing right-hander did show that over the course of a season he can adjust and improve.

Nate Jones 2013 Season

 First Half

Second Half

ERA

4.34

3.86

K (K/9)

47 (8.9)

42 (12.5)

WHIP

1.32

1.06

 

During the 2013 season, Nate Jones found himself pitching in the eighth inning in 41 of the 70 games he made an appearance in.

At 27, Nate Jones still has time to improve. His BB/9 (3.0) is a fine for a high-powered reliever, and his HR/9 (.58) is excellent for high leverage situations. His BA against was .240 which is also very solid. This was Jones's second season in the majors and since most of his statistics improved in his sophomore year, we can also expect improvements going into 2014. He had a 61% first-pitch strike percentage that should help reduce the walks and should keep him ahead of hitters, leading to a consistent strike out rate and weak contact.

With the Chicago White Sox rebuilding and determining who is worth keeping and how their developing talent can handle large roles on the team, Nate Jones could be poised to take on the role of closer. The Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians are frontrunners for the title and the Wild Card spots are difficult to come by, so it’s hard to see the White Sox competing as a team. The White Sox should eventually begin searching for the pieces they need to be competitive in the long-term and in the future. Nate Jones may not be the closer on Opening Day but by season’s end, there is a good case for giving the hard-throwing RHP the ball in the ninth inning to shut the door.

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