Fireballing lefty Matt Thornton is the highest ranking non-closer in Baseball Prospectus‘ opposition-adjusted win-expectation-based relief pitcher statistic WXRL. If that doesn’t move you, his traditional stats should: 2.44 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 11.0 K/9, 4.2 K/BB. A former first-round draft pick and minor league starter, Thornton’s wildness out of the Mariner pen led Seattle to trade him to the south side for Joe Borchard in March 2006, and he’s been a Second City mainstay ever since. He had a breakout season at age 31 last year and has been even better this year, shaking the LOOGY role for proper setup work in early June. Since July 1, he’s posted a 1.71 ERA, 0.86 WHIP and walked just four men in 21 innings for a staggering 6.5 K/BB.
Didn’t Kenny hand-out a 4-year/$19-million contract to get another setup guy? For some reason he’s not on the list.