Assuming the Chicago White Sox have a big turnaround season this year, the bullpen must improve tremendously.
Last season, the White Sox went through a litany of pitchers in their bullpen, many of whom didn’t belong anywhere near the big leagues. Here is the big question: Will the re-adjusting of roles and new acquisitions turn the fortunes of the White Sox pen around?
Feb 28, 2015; Glendale, AZ, USA; Chicago White Sox pitcher Zach Duke poses for a portrait during photo day at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
That would be Jesse Crain, who pitched for the White Sox previously between 2011-13.
While he has missed last season due to an injury, there have been a lot of positive reports about Crain in camp.
A report from Scott Merkin of WhiteSox.com says the following about Crain:
"“Getting into a game seems more and more likely for Crain, meaning having a chance to break camp with the White Sox moves from an outside shot to a slightly more realistic possibility.”"
Assuming Crain can come back and be a solid seventh-inning man for the White Sox, that would improve the team’s chances of winning dramatically.
The White Sox are going to need a good eighth-inning setup pitcher, and they may have found that last season in Jake Petricka. Petricka was solid last year, posting a 2.96 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP.
While he may have struggled in save situations (14-of-18), Petricka could be a good setup man for Robertson. Roles in the pen have yet to be determined, but Petricka and Robertson could be a solid eighth- and ninth-inning duo this season.
It is also possible for the White Sox to have three good relievers from the left side in ’15.
With the additions of Duke and Dan Jennings, the White Sox added two quality arms from the left side. Not to mention if they call up Carlos Rodon (and put him in the pen), the White Sox could have a major advantage in late-game situations.
While the White Sox have assembled a core of setup men who have the potential to succeed, Robertson is going to have to do his job closing the door in the ninth inning for all of this to work out.
Robertson has 39 saves last season (five blown saves) and also had a WHIP of 1.06. Robertson also showed moxie pitching in the Bronx, not to mention taking over for Mariano Rivera while with the New York Yankees.
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If Robertson struggles, the bullpen will have issues as well, due to the fact that they have no real proven options.
I believe it is possible for the White Sox to have a major bullpen turnaround this season. While they will need a lot to go right, they have added a lot of arms this offseason to make it possible.
The White Sox will also have arms in the pen that come out of nowhere, which always happens each season.
While a bullpen is the toughest part of a team to predict, the White Sox are in much better shape heading into this year than last.