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Sports Saturday

White Sox’ Alex Colome closing to contact

Alex Colome’s 7.6 strikeout rate is two K’s per nine innings below last season, but he’s still getting the job done with 25 saves in 26 chances.

White Sox closer Alex Colome. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
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Alex Colome’s rate of 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings is two strikeouts below last season and almost four fewer than his career high of 11.3 in 2013, but with an ERA (2.34) a half run below his career ERA and 25 saves in 26 chances going into the White Sox game against the Braves Friday, no one around the Sox is complaining.

Especially Colome.

“I don’t try to strike out people,” Colome said. “I pitch to contact. As fast as I can, three pitches and out is what I try to do.”

Colome had 37 saves and a 1.91 ERA averaging 11.3 Ks in 2016 and 47 saves with a 3.24 ERA averaging 7.8 strikeouts in 2017 for the Rays. He averaged 9.5 strikeouts between the Rays and Mariners last season, primarily in a setup role with the Mariners.

“In the past I tried to strike out guys, but I threw too many pitches,” said Colome, who has been effective with a two-pitch cutter-fastball mix. “When you try to get strikeouts, you throw too many pitches because you’re throwing the ball in the dirt, throw high, inside and outside. Now I try to make as little pitches as possible, so I can pitch more often and on as many [consecutive] days.

“If I want to strike guys out, I can do it but I don’t care if I don’t. I just want to get three outs. Keep the ball down, make good pitches and get ground balls or popups.”

Colome entered Wednesday ranked third among American League relievers in opponents average (.170), fourth in saves and 10th in ERA.

At home, he is 3-1 with a 0.91 ERA. With 16 saves in 16 chances he was looking to become the first Sox closer since 1913 with a 100 percent percentage at home (minimum 20 chances). Keith Foulke was 23-for-23 at home in 2001.

The Sox acquired Colome from the Mariners in a trade for Omar Narvarez last offseason. They can offer arbitration and bring him back next season. He’ll become a free agent after 2020.

Thought to be a trade piece before the trade deadline , he expects to be back.

“Anything can happen in the offseason, but for now I think I’m coming back,” he said.