Chicago White Sox: Jimmy Cordero could become top reliever

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

The Chicago White Sox could have one of the best bullpens in baseball if a certain reliever takes the next step.

The Chicago White Sox made one of the best waiver claims of the season in June of 2019 when they got Jimmy Cordero from the Seattle Mariners (MLB Trade Rumors).

Cordero, 28, went on to make 30 relief appearances with the South Side down the stretch and registered a 2.75 ERA, 0.972 WHIP, 3.74 FIP, 7.8 K/9, and 2.8 BB/9.

While his previous track record at the major league level didn’t impress as much, there’s no reason to believe that performance was simply a fluke.

In the minors, he registered a 2.89 ERA last season, so he definitely has the ability to succeed at the professional level.

On top of it, his stuff, which includes a 97.8 MPH fastball, 97.6 MPH sinker, 91.1 MPH slider, 88.6 MPH changeup, and 83.7 MPH curveball (FanGraphs), has the makings of a dominant reliever.

What could pose a problem for him is that he throws five pitches as a reliever.

Starters throw four or five pitches, but relievers usually ditch fourth and fifth pitches if they are not elite ones given they aren’t necessary for one inning of work.

Cordero should especially consider ditching his slider (-1.4 runs above average) and curveball (-0.5 runs above average).

That should coincide with increased usage of his changeup that registered 6.2 runs above average.

In fact, that is likely what led to his success in 2019 as he went from throwing it only 8.7% of the time in 2018 to 17.8% of the time the following season.

Another decision that was made by him was to throw his sinker 50.3% of the time as compared to only 21.7% of the time in 2018.

His four-seam fastball, meanwhile, was only used 17.9% of the time as compared to 40.1% of the time in 2018.

What is becoming very clear is that his sinker and changeup are likely his two best pitches and that Cordero really should consider ditching two of his other three pitches.

At the very least, they should be used even less in 2020 as they clearly are the pitches holding him back.

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If he continues to make his changeup and sinker a weapon, hitters are going to have an awfully difficult time in the latter innings with Jimmy Cordero, Steve Cishek, Aaron Bummer, and Alex Colome in the back end of the Chicago White Sox bullpen.