I put plenty of thought into my choice not to pick the Detroit Tigers to win the American League Central at the beginning of the season. Sure, they added Prince Fielder, but the loss of Victor Martinez nearly made that a wash. And as White Sox broadcaster Hawk Harrelson says just about every year, “the best bullpen in the division will win the race.”
Now, I couldn’t have been more off on my pick to win the AL Central, as the Cleveland Indians have vastly underperformed from even the most mediocre of expectations. But as the race to a division crown nears its end, the White Sox find themselves with a bullpen full of some guys who have little to no experience in the position.
Be it Nate Jones, Donnie Veal, Hector Santiago, Addison Reed, Leyson Septimo or even Phillip Humber, the bullpen is full of pitchers with no playoff experience. Jones has been the star of the bullpen down the stretch, with a 0.00 ERA and a WHIP of just 1.04 over the last 30 days. Veal has also been outstanding, compiling a 1.29 ERA and a WHIP of just 0.57 over the same time frame.
But on the other end, Reed and Humber have not been good. Some may argue they haven’t even been average. Over the last 30 days, Reed has a 9.64 ERA in 9.1 innings, while Humber has a sky-high 16.20 ERA. The rest of the bullpen falls somewhere in the middle of those two poles.
The veterans of the staff have stepped it up as of late, including lefty Matt Thornton, who struggled for a good portion of last year and much of the first half of this season. Thornton has a 1.35 ERA in Spetember during the eight games he has pitched.
Then there is Brett Myers. General manager Kenny Williams went out and got the closer from the Houston Astros mid-season, and manager Robin Ventura placed him in the set-up role to help get the game to the closer Reed. Since Myers has come over, he has a 2-3 record with a 3.46 ERA, although the ERA in August and September has been a bit higher.
What we are left with in the final couple weeks of the baseball season is a bullpen that has been largely inconsistent for much of the year, but has often found itself getting the job done. It isn’t going to make watching the games down the stretch any easier, and with many White Sox pitchers only going six innings in many games, Ventura has had to go to the bullpen a little quicker that he would like to. The results remain to be seen, but one thing is certain…the best bullpen in the division will be going to the playoffs.
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