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Chicago White Sox: Good bullpen help is on the way

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 07: Jace Fry #57 of the Chicago White Sox pitches in the seventh inning during the game against the Seattle Mariners at Guaranteed Rate Field on April 07, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - APRIL 07: Jace Fry #57 of the Chicago White Sox pitches in the seventh inning during the game against the Seattle Mariners at Guaranteed Rate Field on April 07, 2019 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /
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It’s no secret that the Chicago White Sox bullpen has not lived up to expectations. They entered the season boasting a group of talented arms. Aaron Bummer went as far as to say he wants the team’s record to be 90-0 when they lead after the sixth inning. Things haven’t quite worked out that way.

In April, the White Sox bullpen had a 4.50 ERA to go along with seven blown saves. Those seven-blown saves were tied for the most in the majors. Matt Foster is sporting a 6.59 ERA while the usually reliable Evan Marshall has a 6.11 ERA. Meanwhile, Codi Heuer has a 5.57 ERA and José Ruiz has given up at least one run in his last six appearances.

The Chicago White Sox might be getting some much-needed bullpen help soon.

Help is on the horizon, however. The Charlotte Knights announced that left-handed reliever Jace Fry will begin his MLB rehab assignment with them today. Fry underwent a microdiscectomy on January 7th which forced him to miss the start of the season.

Fry has been a durable reliever for the White Sox the past couple of seasons. In 2018 Fry notched four saves in his first season with the White Sox. In 2019, he ranked fifth in the American League for allowing the fewest percent of inherited runners to score.

His IRS percentage was a mere 23.1. He led the White Sox with 68 appearances that season, tied for the second-highest total among Major-League left-handers. Fry held opponents to a .218 batting average. Lefties particularly struggled against him, hitting just .193.

In 2020 Fry appeared in 18 games for the White Sox. He served mostly as a long reliever, throwing 1.0 plus innings in 13 of his 18 outings. He struck out at least two batters eight times and posted a 3.66 ERA. Unfortunately, Fry was placed on the 10-day injured list on September 3rd and did not return to action until the 14th.

On September 15th Fry matched his career-high four strikeouts against the Minnesota Twins. Fry has had issues with walks in the past. His 43 walks in 2019 were the most allowed by a White Sox reliever since Sean Lowe in 1999.

His focus in Charlotte should be getting ahead of hitters and attacking the strike zone. In 2018 he did just that and led the White Sox bullpen in holds and strikeouts. His 70 strikeouts rounded out to an impressive 12.2 per nine innings.

When he is ahead in the count he can use his slider more effectively, a pitch that he has primarily relied on in the past. Fry’s slider is thrown extremely hard at 87 mph. It has generated a high number of swings and misses compared to other pitchers’ sliders. Getting ahead in the count also allows him to break out his curveball and 90 mph sinker.

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Fry has proven to be a useful left-hander out of the bullpen. So far, the White Sox have relied on Aaron Bummer and Garrett Crochet as their only lefties out of the pen. While both have been effective, adding another veteran to the mix should provide Tony La Russa with more options from innings five through eight.

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