White Sox: The Mount Rushmore of middle relief

Phil Watson
Damaso Marte of the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Damaso Marte of the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /
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Damaso Marte of the Chicago White Sox. (Photo by G. N. Lowrance/Getty Images) /

Mount Rushmore of White Sox middle relief: Damaso Marte

Damaso Marte’s career with the Chicago White Sox began as part of minor three-player trade — the White Sox sent minor-leaguer Matt Guerrier to the Pittsburgh Pirates and got Marte along with minor-leaguer Ruddy Yan.

Marte would go on to pitch four solid seasons in Chicago, getting five outs and the win in the White Sox’ 7-5 14-inning win in Game 3 of the 2005 World Series over the Houston Astros.

Marte’s first two years with the White Sox saw him in a setup role with occasional opportunities to close; he saved 21 games in 2002-03. In 2004, he was converted into a role that no longer exists — the lefty-one-out-guy, or LOOGY. That role vanished when MLB made a rule change before the 2020 season requiring pitchers to face a minimum of three batters.

Indeed, Marte was very good against left-handed hitters in his career, allowing a .195 average and .575 OPS. But right-handed batters only hit .242 with a .726 OPS, so he could get hitters out.

In four seasons for the White Sox, Marte posted a 2.78 ERA and 1.212 WHIP in 279 appearances over 259 innings, saving 31 games and registering 71 holds while pitching in tough spots — his average leverage index was 1.536. He struck out 9.8 batters and walked 4.1 per nine innings.

Marte, a native of the Dominican Republic, originally signed with the Seattle Mariners in October 1992, and pitched five games for the M’s in 1999. He refused an outright assignment to the minors in October 2000 and signed with the New York Yankees. They traded him to the Pirates, where he returned to the majors in June 2001.

He was traded back to Pittsburgh by the White Sox in December 2005 for Rob Mackowiak and later pitched with the Yankees, missing the 2011 season — save for one disastrous rehab appearance in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League — after shoulder surgery in the fall of 2010. His career ended when he went unsigned after his contract expired in the fall of 2011.

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