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9/15/1976 (40 y, 5 m, 8 d)
1998 June Amateur Draft - Round: 1, Pick: 22, Overall: 22, Team: Seattle Mariners
$7M / 2 Years (2014 - 2015)
Thornton was designated for assignment Saturday. (8/6/2016)
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Fans complained when Thornton got into the 2010 All-Star Game, but whatever you think of middle relievers in that game, the truth is that Matt Thornton has been one of the best relievers in baseball the past few years, including closers. The lefty just comes at hitters with his blistering fastball over and over, and is effective against both righties and lefties. He's got a good walk rate and an otherworldly strikeout rate. He should be closing for the the White Sox in 2011. Even if he isn't, he should be the first non-closing reliever off the board. If he is named closer for the North Siders, he should rank alongside Rivera and Soria in terms of draft position and value. (Matt Klaassen)
The Quick Opinion:
Thornton should probably be the first middle reliever taken in leagues where he is eligible, unless he is named the White Sox' closer, in which case he should be one of the most valuable relievers in almost all leagues.
Sample size gets cited quite often to explain away poor (or great) performances in baseball, but nobody gets bit by the sample size bug like relievers. Matt Thornton is no exception. After three straight seasons and 200.1 innings of sub-3.00 ERAs, matching FIPs, and more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings pitched, Thornton's 2011 looks ugly on the surface: his strikeouts per nine dropped to 9.50, his ERA jumped to 3.32, and he blew four saves in seven chances. But almost all of this damage was done in a brutal April, when he walked six and gave up two home runs in 8.1 IP. This was enough to get Thornton demoted from the closer's role. But by July, Thornton was the power lefty the White Sox had come to know and love -- back up over 10 strikeouts per nine, an FIP under 2.00, and just one home run over 30.1 IP. With Sergio Santos being traded to Toronto, Thornton may get another shot to close, at least before rookie Addison Reed takes the job for good. Either way, he is likely to put up great rates and high strikeout numbers, much like he did 2008-2010 and the second half of 2011. His draft cost will be low, but if he is closing, he could be a steal, especially in all ottoneu formats. (Chad Young)
The Quick Opinion:
Thornton had a brutal start to 2011, but don't let that overshadow the fact that for three and a half out of the last four seasons, he has been a shutdown bullpen arm. He will have fantasy value for strikeouts and rates alone, but if he gets a chance to close again, he could be a draft day steal.
After his disastrous stint as the White Sox closer in 2011, it was unlikely that Thornton was going to get a real chance at closing again in 2012 and that's exactly what happened. Addison Reed came in, grabbed the job early, and left Thornton as a set-up man with only a week or two of questioning in between. Where the lefty used to be a good option for those searching for strikeouts, he failed to strikeout even 20 percent of the hitters he faced for the first time in his career. Heading into his age-36 season, Thornton's fantasy value may be well and truly gone at this point. (Dan Wade)
The Quick Opinion:
How many times can Matt Thornton be the heir-apparent to the closer's role without ever actually becoming the closer? The answer: As many times as the role is available.
Once a sleeper closer candidate, Matt Thornton's strikeout rate has declined each of the last four years. Now 37 with a slower, straighter fastball, his swinging strike rate has nearly been cut in half. Yes, the Yankees still paid him 2/$7m this offseason, but leave him off your draft board.(
After toiling away in Chicago for years, Thornton has traveled a little more the past few seasons. He finally arrived in Washington for their stretch run -- promptly posting a 1.75 ERA (2.66 FIP) in 36 innings. His strikeouts have declined in recent seasons, thanks to a declining ability to generate swings on pitches out of the zone. After not allowing a contact rate over 78% in his first few seasons, hitters have been able to barrel the ball more the past three seasons, posting contact marks of 82%, 83%, and 84%, respectively. Washington’s bullpen should be good again, a blessing for them and a curse for Thornton. He isn’t likely to be high on the list if saves are needed, as he should be planted behind Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard at the very least. He’s good at getting left handed batters out, though, and he’ll surely continue that, although maybe not quite as well as he did in 2014. (Landon Jones)
The Quick Opinion:
Thornton should be good for a fair amount of holds. And he might even get a save opportunity or two. Other than getting lucky and having him those days, there will probably better options out there, preferably ones that miss more bats.
2015 was the tenth year in a row that Thornton saw action in 60 games or more. I don’t think there are many leagues out there that use appearances as a category, but if you’re in one, Thornton would be an asset for you. The aforementioned 18 holds would have been very useful, and would be again, regardless of where he winds up in 2016. He hasn’t saved a game since 2012, when he recorded three with the White Sox, and he can’t be counted on for more than maybe one save in 2016. His velocity has eroded a bit, but what can you expect from a 39 year old who toes the rubber 60+ times a year? He was consistently below 95 for the first time in his career last season, but 94 from the left side can still get the job done. He mixes that with a curve that he used as much as he ever had, and a relatively new splitter that he deployed 10% of the time. That’s replaced his sinker, and he scrapped his slider last year. You aren’t rostering him unless you play Scoresheet or you’re in a deep mixed with holds as a category, but you can get him very late, or for $1. (Darren Schienbein)
The Quick Opinion:
Matt Thornton threw 41.3 innings out of the Washington bullpen in 2015, garnering zero saves, but falling in the top 30 in holds with 18. He’s a free agent at the time of this writing, but if you need holds, Thornton wouldn’t be a bad pickup.
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Updated: Thursday, February 23, 2017 3:34 AM ET
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