There will be a night-and-day difference between this years left-handed relievers compared to last season in the Chicago White Sox bullpen.
To have three good lefties in a bullpen is a big deal in the current landscape of MLB, due to the fact that it will make it much easier for manager Robin Ventura to manage in late-game situations.
Here is why I think having three lefties is such a big deal.
First, look at all of the platoons that exist in baseball today. If the White Sox can manipulate them late in games, it gives them a huge advantage. That is something they had zero ability to do last season, because they had no legitimate lefties in the pen.
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Due to the fact that a lot of late-game situations in a bullpen have to do with matchups, the White Sox were at a serious disadvantage with no MLB caliber lefties one season ago and it showed.
Second, many left-handed hitters struggle versus left-handed pitchers. There are also some teams whose lineups are very left-handed dominant in baseball. There is no question that having two or three solid arms in the pen from the left side is huge.
Would I bring in any lefty to face Joe Mauer? Of course not, but that is why the White Sox signed Duke and traded for Jennings. If Rodon can come up and pitch out of the bullpen, the White Sox would be able to make Jennings their third lefty in the pen.
Doing so would make them tough due to the fact that Jennings has the ability to also get righties out, and has done so at a better clip during his career (LHB: .289, RHB: .238).
Finally, the ability of the White Sox to get the ball to closer David Robertson is going to be huge.
Considering he is a shut down closer, having three lefties will help them immensely. Jake Petricka and Zach Putnam has closing roles last year, and will not be relegated to them in ’15 giving the team some late-inning depth.
With the White Sox opening up with Duke and Jennings from the left side, and Putnam and Petricka from the right it should be much easier for the team to finish games this year.
And that is before Robertson gets the ball in the ninth inning.
I understand that the whole lefty-lefty issue can be blown out of proportion. There is no doubt about that concept. I ask this question: Would you rather have three good lefties facing three good left-handed batters over 3 good righties facing those same batters?
My answer is any day of the week.
The key this year with the White Sox is that they will have good lefties. Any team can put two of three solid lefties in the bullpen, but if they are good, that is when a team gets tough in late inning situations.
I also realize that Rodon will likely start the season in Triple-A, but when he is called up I hope they put him in the bullpen to get his feet wet at the MLB level.
It would help the White Sox short-term and long term, considering the fact that it would give them a strong bullpen this year.
While I think the bullpen will be drastically improved over ’14, a lot will ride of the arms of the lefties, and if they produce, the White Sox could be a legit contender this year.