White Sox will need an effective bullpen next season if they have any hopes of being a competitive team after a year in which they lost 100 games.
The White Sox bullpen was one of the worst in the major leagues this past season. With two playoff teams employing a bullpen game in separate postseason contests recently, the Sox path back to contention will rest on their relief pitchers in 2019.
On Thursday, the Milwaukee Brewers were the latest team to have a relief pitcher start a postseason game. The Brewers were able to do what the Oakland Athletics couldn’t do in winning a postseason game without utilizing a starting pitcher. Both the Brewers and Athletics had strong bullpens which helped them reach the postseason.
For the Sox, the second year of their current rebuild saw a much worse bullpen than in 2017. Although there were some veteran arms in the Sox bullpen, they would later trade Joakim Soria and Luis Avilan to contending teams. The Sox bullpen featured many young players who were looking to solidify themselves as major leaguers.
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There were some positive developments for some of the Sox younger relief pitchers. Jace Fry and Ian Hamilton showed signs they could handle high leverage situations. However, each player will need more development next season. If the Sox are going to strengthen their bullpen for 2019 and beyond, they will have to sign a few free agents this offseason.
While many fans are focused on the Sox signing a marquee free agent this offseason, the team would bode well by signing some relief pitchers that have experience pitching in high-leverage situations. Free agents this offseason the Sox could sign are Kelvin Herrera, Jeurys Familia, Craig Kimbrel, Zach Britton, and Andrew Miller.
If the Sox were to sign any of those aforementioned players, the team’s bullpen would improve dramatically. The Sox front office is well aware that this upcoming offseason is the perfect time to add players via free agency to a young team. In order for the Sox to take the next step in their rebuild, they will have to make key additions to their bullpen.
The Sox bullpen will be one area they will need to improve if they have any shot at contention in 2019. Without a strong bullpen, there could be more leads lost late next season. As the recent trend is showing, opening a game with a relief pitcher isn’t a bad idea if everything goes right. The Sox will need a better bullpen to even think of opening a playoff game with a relief pitcher.