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White Sox: Jake Petricka will have new role in bullpen

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Jul 6, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox relief pitcher

Jake Petricka

(52) throws a pitch against the Seattle Mariners during the ninth inning at U.S Cellular Field. Chicago White Sox defeat the Seattle Mariners 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The best thing that could have happened for the career of Chicago White Sox reliever Jake Petricka was the team signing free agent closer David Robertson, because it changes the role of Petricka for the 2015 season.

Part of last season, Petricka was the closer by default for the White Sox, because after Nate Jones was injured last spring, the White Sox went with a closer by committee, and all of us found out that didn’t turn out so well.

It isn’t that Petricka did a bad job, because he did have 14 saves, but it was evident that wasn’t the role Petricka needed or the White Sox wanted him to have, or they wouldn’t have signed Robertson to a four-year contract in December.

Don’t get me wrong, the White Sox have luck on their side by having a pitcher the caliber of Petricka in their bullpen, but his role needs to be a late-inning reliever, or even one as the eighth-inning set-up man, but not as the closer of the ’15 White Sox.

Last season, Petricka had a 1.37 WHIP with 55 strikeouts, 33 walks and an ERA of 2.96 in 67 games (73 innings pitched).

Being that he’ll be 27 years old this season, this could be the year Petricka really puts everything together as a big league reliever, and if that is the case, consider that just another weapon the White Sox will have at their disposal in their path to a possible AL Central championship.

Projecting Petricka for the ’15 season might have been done by a formula, but how correct or close will it be, considering all of the changing factors surrounding the right-handed pitcher?

The projections by Baseball Prospectus have the RHP on the mound for 58.1 innings this upcoming season with two saves, but pitching in just 24 games (eight starts), so right there you can see a flaw in the formula used.

Unless Petricka is injured in ’15, there is no way he pitches in that few games. Either way, the projections by the annual baseball publication have Petricka walking just 31 batters and striking out 43.

For Petricka, he’s impossible to predict this offseason, because it is tough to say how the White Sox will use him since he hopefully won’t have to make a save opportunity this season. There is also the addition of Zach Duke in the rotation as well (another free agent signing), so that could also and most likely will change roles for Petricka.

In a CBS Chicago article by Bruce Levine earlier this week, the longtime Chicago reporter wrote about Petricka:

"“Petricka will most likely get the first shot at the right-handed setup role, alternating with lefty Zach Duke behind Robertson … Petricka can also provide a security blanket for the closer’s role if Robertson needs a day off to recharge.”"

Any way you look at it, Petricka is a very nice piece of the puzzle to have for the White Sox … now the interesting part will be to see if the White Sox place him in the right spot in the bullpen this upcoming season.

Next: John Danks projected for 9 wins

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