What to do about the Chicago White Sox bullpen?


May 14, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Matt Lindstrom (27) throws a pitch against the Oakland Athletics during the ninth inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

As many of you have noticed, the Chicago White Sox bullpen has struggled this season. Injuries to their top two closers, Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom have been a huge setback, but the problem is nobody else has stepped up after they went down.

Here are some of stats of the White Sox bullpen.

Aug 13, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Javy Guerra (41) pitches the ball against the San Francisco Giants during the seventh inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

In total, seven relief pitchers have blown a save for the White Sox in ’14 with Javy Guerra having the most with five, while Ronald Belisario has four and Jake Petricka/Lindstrom each having three.

Three other pitchers have blown saves as well, but have not been given as many chances as those listed above.

The White Sox have used 24, yes … 24 pitchers in ’14, and at least 15 of them have pitched out of the bullpen, with many of them making their big league debut.

While Zach Putnam (2.21 ERA, 12 holds) and Petricka (2.30 ERA, eight saves/holds) have had their bright spots, most have struggled.

Frank Francisco, Taylor Thompson and Maikel Cleto have all struggled mightily this season. The problem with the three players I just listed is that they were all ‘Plan C.’

Injuries and a lack of MLB-level talent caused the White Sox to get desperate, therefore the Sox are struggling out of the pen.

To make matters worse, Scott Downs was picked up in the offseason to be a reliable veteran left-hander. His performance was terrible, struggling to get the ball over the plate. The White Sox released him, and now he is pitching for the Kansas City Royals.

There have been some good spots in the pen this year. Even though it has gone downhill quickly as of late, it looks as though Putnam and Petricka could be mainstays in the bullpen for a while.

Putnam was picked up off as a free agent in the offseason, and was not expected to contribute much considering he didn’t even make the opening day roster.

Petricka could have some ability to close, however, I am not sure if he is a type of pitcher that will be a 40-plus save a year pitcher. Maybe he’ll be more of a second or third option to close, after the team finds a legit closer this offseason (hopefully).

Daniel Webb has the ability to be a good reliever in the future, but he needs to get the ball over the plate. Webb has 43 strikeouts which is good, but he also has 32 walks in 53 innings pitched. (I didn’t add intentional walks).

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If the White Sox are serious about contending, they need to repair this bullpen before next season.

However, there are other issues to fix first such as the back of the rotation, and there needs to be a change at certain positions. Bullpens are needed in todays game to win, and a bunch of rookies or washed up veterans that can’t get the ball over home plate will not win you games.

If the Sox can get some solid bullpen arms, as well as fix some of the back of their rotation, they will be in pretty good shape for ’15.

How long that will take I don’t know, but it needs to happen before they can win on a consistent basis.

Stats are from www.fangraphs.com