About a month ago, I wrote an article about the status of the White Sox bullpen. Since then, the White Sox have acquired Brett Myers and regained Jesse Crain and Phil Humber from disabled list. They have also moved Septimo onto the disabled list and replaced him with Donald Veal.
I was a bit skeptical of the Myers acquisition in the sense that he wasn’t striking batters out, is a bit vulnerable to the long ball, and because he’s a bit of an awful guy. However, since joining the White Sox he has been pitching beautifully. Even with last night’s blow-up, in Myers’ 13.1IP in Chicago, he has 8Ks to only 2 walks and has managed a 3.38 ERA. Prior to allowing 4 runs yesterday, which didn’t really wind up mattering all that much, he had only allowed 1 run.
Crain wound up giving up the runs that did in the White Sox today, but then again, the offense has been far more of the issue. If they were scoring like they should be off of marginal pitchers like Chen, Mendoza, and Guthrie, Crain having a bad outing wouldn’t really be on our radar screens. Coming into today’s game, Crain was striking out 11.3 per 9, and boasted an ERA of 1.93.
I’m not entirely comfortable trying to draw conclusions about Humber pitching out of the bullpen given the sample size, but generally speaking: Pitching out of the bullpen is easier than starting. You don’t have to pace yourself, you don’t have to worry about hitters seeing you more than once in a game, and if you have platoon issues, the manager should generally be able to mitigate that as best as possible as situations dictate. From what I’ve seen, Humber’s picked up a few ticks on his fastball and his breaking ball looks a little bit sharper. That could be that he’s healthy now, or it could be that he’s going all out in the bullpen. Or it could be random. Who knows? But the jump from an Omogrosso to a Humber is pretty large.
Having these guys as options out of the bullpen slides the guys like Nate Jones further down the pecking order (and leverage order), which makes him play up. Nate Jones as your 4th or 5th best reliever is quite nice. When he’s option 3, you have to worry quite a bit. Further, it pushes Brian Omogrosso back to AAA where he really belongs – at least, for a team that’s trying to win a division.
As the White Sox come out of this three game sweep, as has been the case for some time with this organization, the worries should really lie with the offense and not with the pitching.