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Is the White Sox bullpen unusually difficult to manage?

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The White Sox would seem to have a shutdown bullpen that should be the envy of baseball.  

  • They have two All-Star closers in Liam Hendriks and Craig Kimbrel.
  • They have a lefty who can crank it up into the high 90s in Garrett Crochet.
  • They have another lefty who has an unhittable slider in Aaron Bummer.
  • They have a future TOR starter who can hit 100 mph on his fastballs and then break off some wicked breaking pitches in Michael Kopech
  • They have a journeyman reliever in Ryan Tepera.
  • And they also have former starter long man/spot starter who's having the best stretch of his career in Reynaldo Lopez.
  • Then they have Jose Ruiz, Ryan Burr, and sometimes Matt Foster.  Still injured is Evan Marshall

Yet, from game to game, do Tony LaRussa and Ethan Katz know what they are getting when they call these guys in from the bullpen?  

We all know about Hendriks twin meltdowns against the Yankees. 

Kimbrell also gave up a HR to the Yanks that put the Sox behind in the 8th inning of another game.  Kimbrell also came in with a 4-2 lead in the 8th and threw 7 balls in a row last night. 

Aaron Bummer can be devastating, but also seems to have stretches where he can't locate his pitches.

Michael Kopech seems dominant, but gave up a 2-run HR to Matt Olson that lost the series finale to the As. 

You get the picture. 

My question -- is this volatility from game-to-game unusual for such a highly touted group?  Why can't they be like the Royals pen that locked down every 7th-8th and 9th inning in their World Series run?  

What do you think?  

I'm hoping they figure it out over the next month+ going into October.  One benefit then is the Sox could move another starter into the pen, and they can likely shorten the list of relievers they might need.  But that's not going to solve the ups and downs of their top guys.  They really need their "A" list pitchers to pitch like "A" list pitchers. 

The 2005 Sox seemed to have a much easier job of it.  Just rely on your starters to carry the load.  They won the ALCS with 2/3 of one inning pitched by someone out of the bullpen!  Crazy.  

This year, how far this team goes may depend on that bullpen locking down leads or keeping the Sox close enough for a late game strike of their own.  Sorting that out is going to be a challenging task.  

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Ruiz has established himself above that Burr/Foster group.

The 13 playoff pitchers look pretty clear-cut: 5 starters, Hendriks/Kimbrel, Kopech/Tepera, Crochet/Bummer, & Lopez/Ruiz. I am worried about Evan Marshall taking Reynaldo’s or Ruiz’s spot. 

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3 hours ago, IWokeUpLikeThis said:

Ruiz has established himself above that Burr/Foster group.

The 13 playoff pitchers look pretty clear-cut: 5 starters, Hendriks/Kimbrel, Kopech/Tepera, Crochet/Bummer, & Lopez/Ruiz. I am worried about Evan Marshall taking Reynaldo’s or Ruiz’s spot. 

Dallas could make the playoff roster, but we aren’t using five starters in the playoffs.

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1 hour ago, Chicago White Sox said:

Dallas could make the playoff roster, but we aren’t using five starters in the playoffs.

I agree...but they won't cut someone of his stature.

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29 minutes ago, poppysox said:

I agree...but they won't cut someone of his stature.

Then he can be a reliever only used in emergencies.  Dude has been a gas can most of this year and we should avoid using him at all costs in the playoffs.  La Russa better realize this or it will cost us come October.

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3 minutes ago, Chicago White Sox said:

Then he can be a reliever only used in emergencies.  Dude has been a gas can most of this year and we should avoid using him at all costs in the playoffs.  La Russa better realize this or it will cost us come October.

No one has been to more October games than TL.  I will assume he and Katz will have this well thought out by the time decisions are made.

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Posted (edited)

The bullpen plain and simple and for whatever reason just hasn't been consistent this year. 

Edited by The Mighty Mite
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46 minutes ago, The Mighty Mite said:

The bullpen plain and simple and for whatever reason just hasn't been consistent this year. 

Actually, they have been consistent. Consistent in giving up multi-run leads. They can make any manager look dumb.

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7 hours ago, IWokeUpLikeThis said:

Ruiz has established himself above that Burr/Foster group.

The 13 playoff pitchers look pretty clear-cut: 5 starters, Hendriks/Kimbrel, Kopech/Tepera, Crochet/Bummer, & Lopez/Ruiz. I am worried about Evan Marshall taking Reynaldo’s or Ruiz’s spot. 

I think they go with 12 pitchers in the playoffs and Ruiz is the odd man out.

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2 minutes ago, WhiteSoxFan1993 said:

I think they go with 12 pitchers in the playoffs and Ruiz is the odd man out.

I agree...and extra bench-bat like Sheets or legs like Hamilton are more useful in playoff baseball IMO.

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37 minutes ago, poppysox said:

I agree...and extra bench-bat like Sheets or legs like Hamilton are more useful in playoff baseball IMO.

Way to far away to project that.  Injuries will happen and some guys will die in September and others will rise from the dead. These decisions will come in very late September. 

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There is no doubt that TLR's biggest failure this year has been an almost across the board regression in his bullpen.

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40 minutes ago, southsider2k5 said:

There is no doubt that TLR's biggest failure this year has been an almost across the board regression in his bullpen.

Don't see how that's on TLR.  He's not pitching the baseball. 

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40 minutes ago, VAfan said:

Don't see how that's on TLR.  He's not pitching the baseball. 

TLR needs to manage the bullpen usage though. He needs to consider how their arm is feeling, how much rest they’ve had, when they might be needed in the next few days, and what the matchups look like. I’m sure I’m missing a few more details but it’s not as straightforward as telling guys to go out and pitch. If you’re putting good relievers in bad situations then they are going to look like bad relievers

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54 minutes ago, VAfan said:

Don't see how that's on TLR.  He's not pitching the baseball. 

I think he was being sarcastic

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24 minutes ago, MackowiakYakYak said:

TLR needs to manage the bullpen usage though. He needs to consider how their arm is feeling, how much rest they’ve had, when they might be needed in the next few days, and what the matchups look like. I’m sure I’m missing a few more details but it’s not as straightforward as telling guys to go out and pitch. If you’re putting good relievers in bad situations then they are going to look like bad relievers

That is why you have a pitching coach.

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The Sox pen is good at the top but lacking a bit of depth. Hendricks, crochet, kopech ruiz and bummer have been good but they also have thrown foster for 33 innings and marshall for 27 innings. 

 

Sure occasionally Hendriks will blow one too but most of the time he is OK. Most important is that the Sox likely won't need those bad relievers anymore after the trade for kimbrel. 

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47 minutes ago, Dominikk85 said:

The Sox pen is good at the top but lacking a bit of depth. Hendricks, crochet, kopech ruiz and bummer have been good but they also have thrown foster for 33 innings and marshall for 27 innings. 

 

Sure occasionally Hendriks will blow one too but most of the time he is OK. Most important is that the Sox likely won't need those bad relievers anymore after the trade for kimbrel. 

A lot of that is by choice, not necessity. Hendriks pitched 85 innings in the 2019 regular season and it will be surprising if he gets to 70 this year. People insisted Kopech would get plenty of innings in the bullpen to be transitioned to a starter next year and while injury played a role he is on pace to throw just over 60. Same statement about Crochet, no injury for him, and he’s thrown 42 innings all year. Bummer threw 67 innings in 2019, he’s on pace to throw about 55 this season.

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1 hour ago, Balta1701 said:

A lot of that is by choice, not necessity. Hendriks pitched 85 innings in the 2019 regular season and it will be surprising if he gets to 70 this year. People insisted Kopech would get plenty of innings in the bullpen to be transitioned to a starter next year and while injury played a role he is on pace to throw just over 60. Same statement about Crochet, no injury for him, and he’s thrown 42 innings all year. Bummer threw 67 innings in 2019, he’s on pace to throw about 55 this season.

 

I like that though. The Sox lost a few games due to that but it will mean the pen is fresh in the playoffs. I rather blow a few games now and have Hendriks, crochet, kopech and kimbrel fresh in the playoffs. 

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36 minutes ago, Dominikk85 said:

 

I like that though. The Sox lost a few games due to that but it will mean the pen is fresh in the playoffs. I rather blow a few games now and have Hendriks, crochet, kopech and kimbrel fresh in the playoffs. 

Well that doesn’t address the Kopech and Crochet issue, but aside from that we will see. A rested pen on a team that gets the number 3 seed and gets beaten up it’s first 2 games in Houston isn’t much to brag about. A well rested pen where we wind up with threads about how difficult it must be to use that bullpen since they’re so inconsistent despite talent doesn’t inspire confidence.

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On 8/21/2021 at 9:54 PM, VAfan said:

My question -- is this volatility from game-to-game unusual for such a highly touted group?  Why can't they be like the Royals pen that locked down every 7th-8th and 9th inning in their World Series run?  

I think you answered your own question.  When you refer back to a Royals pen from several years ago and we all get what you are saying means it is not that common.

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I have a feeling we are gonna see a postseason star in Kopech. Save this prediction. Used properly in the 7th and or 8th if needed, he's going to dominate maybe (knock on wood to avoid possible jinx).

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