The Chicago White Sox were an elite team in 2021. There were a lot of reasons for it but their bullpen was one of the biggest ones. It had its tough moments but it was stellar on a lot of nights. A big reason for that is closer, Liam Hendriks.
The postseason didn’t go their way as the entire pitching staff crumbled but the Houston Astros being an even better team had a lot to do with it. None of that will erase the outstanding regular season that they had which led to them winning the AL Central for the first time since 2008.
A big key to their bullpen was the strong back end led by Hendriks. They also had Michael Kopech, Garrett Crochet, and Aaron Bummer there to throw heat as well. The White Sox also acquired Craig Kimbrel at the trade deadline which was very interesting.
Craig Kimbrel is one of the best closers in the history of the sport. He was having a stellar season with the Chicago Cubs so the White Sox felt the need to pay a premium price for him. Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer are both gone as a result.
Liam Hendriks just loved having Craig Kimbrel on the Chicago White Sox.
When the trade happened, a lot of us wondered what the dynamic would be like with him and Liam Hendriks who already established himself as the team’s ace closer. Tony La Russa decided to primarily use Kimbrel in the setup role and it failed miserably. He simply isn’t cut out for that role.
There are rumors that the White Sox are going to trade Kimbrel after picking up his option before the lockout. That may or may not happen but keeping him might be worth exploring if they can’t get a fair return for his services.
Hendriks went on the Crosstown Crosstalk podcast this week and was asked about the Kimbrel situation. According to Hendriks, he and Kimbrel are good friends and he enjoyed having him on the team. Liam was also adamant that he doesn’t care when he pitches. All he wants to do is win a championship on the south side.
This is a very interesting listen if you are wondering what the relationship between those two is like. They seem to enjoy each other and he goes into some pretty nice detail about the whole thing. Hopefully, with or without Kimbrel, Hendriks can repeat what he did in 2021 in 2022.