White Sox added depth to its bullpen over this past offseason with additions of veteran arms. Can this group surprise many people with success in 2018?
Considering how poorly the White Sox bullpen pitched at times last season, most would assume going into 2018 that area will be a weakness. However, with enough luck, could the bullpen actually perform fairly well? While there are many moving parts to this equation, let’s take a look at why it is possible.
First and foremost, the Sox have a significant amount of talent even though many have major question marks attached to their names. Thyago Vieira comes to mind, who is a young flamethrower capable of touching triple digits with ease. He has very little big league experience, but no one would ever say Vieira lacks the ability to throw a baseball.
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Another name to bring up is Nate Jones. I have mentioned him in previous articles, with his history of injuries being a serious concern. Jones is an electric talent who has late-inning ability when healthy, however, that word is crucial when discussing him. He has missed countless games in his career due to injuries, so Jones tearing something would surprise no one.
Here is where there is the potential for success but also failure. When the Sox are counting on guys such as Juan Minaya, Hector Santiago, Jeanmar Gomez and others, many times their performance ends in disappointment. What Rick Hahn is doing is smart, rolling the dice with as many arms as he can in hopes of coming up sixes with one or two. That is as much luck as skill when forecasting a bullpen, due to the volatile nature of such players.
Thankfully, there are a pair of veterans at the back end the Sox do think they can rely on. When you have Joakim Soria closing out games and Luis Avilan retiring lefties, it makes manager Rick Renteria’s job a bit easier than if he had no one with a history of getting those final three outs. Given Soria is aging, but his experience should help him groom any of the youngsters in the bullpen.
So, will everything come together? Due to the talent level Rick Hahn amassed, it is possible for enough lottery tickets to be cashed in. However, with so much uncertainty in regards to many of the pitchers involved, it could just as easily go in the opposite direction.
All in all, this area of the club is likely to experience some subtractions over the summer. My question is how many, considering that bullpen production can be volatile from season to season regardless of who comprises it. So while we might be enjoying excellence, it is even more possible that many Sox pitchers struggle to record outs. Hope for the former, Sox fans.