With less than two weeks of Spring Training remaining, teams including the Chicago White Sox need to set their 25-man rosters.
Some White Sox positions are already established including the majority of the infield and most of the outfield.
But, the bullpen is not yet set and one of the spots in it should go to Chris Volstad.
Earlier in the week, MLB.com’s Scott Merkin predicted the Opening Day roster for the Sox. His bullpen prediction did not include Volstad. But, after his performance this spring, that seems like a mistake.
A brief history
The 6’8 31-year-old veteran began his career as a starting pitcher with the Florida Marlins where he posted a career ERA of 4.59. In his four seasons in Florida, he averages 20 starts per year. But, after being traded to the Cubs, his numbers dropped off. Between 2012 and now, he’s been up and down in the minors and majors and only short-term contracts with teams.
A notable exhibition season
The Sox signed him for the 2017 season, granted him free agency, then re-signed him for the 2018 season. He pitched 19.1 swing innings and posted an ERA of 4.66 and a WHIP of 1.086. But, when you look at his stats for relief innings, he had an ERA of 1.08 and a WHIP of 0.84 in 8.1 innings.
While that’s not a large amount of work to analyze, he’s on a similar roll in Spring Training. He has pitched 9.1 innings in six games and has not yet given up a run. His WHIP is 0.21 and he has only walked one batter. He has five strikeouts.
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Proving he can do the job
In Spring Training, Volstad has the fourth most innings pitched and he has the best numbers, by far. This is impressive considering how the Arizona atmosphere favors batters and the batters he has faced are averaging .037 against him.
Volstad’s numbers should not be ignored.
In his article, Merkin predicts the Sox will have eight relievers in the bullpen. He wrote:
"“Manager Rick Renteria told reporters he wants a number of relievers to be able to throw multiple innings…”"
As a swingman, Volstad can pitch several innings. Of his six starts in Spring Training, he has only two that where only one inning. Volstad pitches well and the Sox should give him a spot on the 25-man roster.