Should the White Sox utilize right hand relievers to get out key left handed batters? The South Siders still have a strong bullpen, but lack multiple left handed pitchers.
With Zach Duke gone, there is only one left-handed pitcher in the bullpen with major league experience for the Chicago White Sox. That being Dan Jennings, who while having his ups and downs over the course of his two years on the South Side, will enter Spring Training as the go to guy when the Sox need to get a lefty out late in games. Can he get it done?
The answer to that question is unknown at the moment, due to the fact his splits are virtually even recently versus righties and lefties. Since 2014, Jennings has allowed a .263 batting average against lefties while surrendering a .265 average when facing righties. Given he faced 83 more right-handed hitters (339 to 256) in that time span, but nevertheless they both hit him about equally.
More from White Sox News
- The Chicago White Sox might have had a season ending loss
- The Chicago White Sox are expecting Tim Anderson back soon
- Miguel Cairo’s words spark life into the Chicago White Sox
- Dylan Cease should be the favorite for the AL Cy Young Award
- Ozzie Guillen speaks the whole truth about Tony La Russa
While there are many other numbers to comb through, batting average is key for one reason. In the case Jennings comes into a game with runners on, he needs to get an out. If he allows hits to righties and lefties at an equal distribution, it negates the point of being a left-handed specialist. Another concern with Jennings is his wildness (28 walks in 60.2 IP last season), indicating that he is unlikely to retire hitters at an high rate.
One problem with this is the Sox really don’t have anyone in their bullpen whose role is to come in, face one batter and then leave. Some pitchers even have had reverse statistics, which Sox righty Zach Putnam did in limited action last season (.229 LHB-35 AB’s, .258 RHB-66 AB’s). This is very common, and not just in Putnam’s case, where he only faced less than 40 batters in one category.
On the topic of reverse statistics, that may be the way to go when retiring lefties if Jennings can’t get them out. Whoever can, even if it is a righty should be given the duty of facing a tough left-handed hitter late in games. Any left-handed pitcher in the Sox pen should not be forced into specialist duties, but also be given the opportunity to retire righties due to how common reverse statistics are.
All in all, it is unlikely Jennings will be a full-time left-handed specialist in 2017. Many will get their shot at that role, and don’t expect all of them to be lefties. Fans and analysts alike get too caught up on the hand the pitcher throws with, and not the efficiency he retires batters. Whomever does, the latter best in each role should win it, not be given it by which hand they throw with. Pitchers and Catchers report to Camelback Ranch next Tuesday. Can you feel it yet, Sox fans?