The White Sox bullpen has been bad. Really bad. While there have been a few bright spots overall this group has failed to live up to their lofty expectations.
On paper, the bullpen was supposed to be a strength of the team. Before the season Aaron Bummer even went as far as to say that he expected the White Sox to be undefeated when leading after the fifth inning.
Failing To Live Up To Expectations
The problem with bold statements during spring training is that they don’t always come to fruition. A couple of months later the White Sox were looking for relief arms to bolster their struggling bullpen. They found help in Ryan Tepera and Craig Kimbrel. With these additions, the bullpen looked like a strength of the team once again.
Liam Hendriks is leading the American League in saves. Craig Kimbrel is a Hall of Fame-caliber closer. Ryan Tepera has a sub-three ERA. Micheal Kopech and Garrett Crochet have provided a lethal flame-throwing option late in games. But baseball is a game of what have you done for me lately. The White Sox bullpen has simply not been good enough.
The starting pitching has looked championship caliber. Lance Lynn, Dylan Cease, and Lucas Giolito turned in three stellar performances in Toronto. Unfortunately, two of the three were wasted because of a lack of a faltering bullpen. The bullpen also came dangerously close to blowing the only win of the series. While part of these losses can be attributed to lack of offense, but there is no overlooking how bad the bullpen has been.
On August 6th Kimbrel blew a three-run lead in the eighth inning against his former team when he served up a three-run homer to Cubs shortstop Andrew Romine. On August 12th Liam Hendriks gave up two home runs in the 9th inning against the Yankees to blow a save against the Yankees. Two days later Craig Kimbrel grooved a pitch to Aaron Judge in the eighth inning that broke a 3-3 tie. Jose Abreu bailed him out with some late heroics but Liam Hendriks made sure his efforts went to waste by giving up three runs in the 10th inning, which including a two-run moon shot given up to Joey Gallo.
Micheal Kopech was touched up for two earned runs on August 19th that ultimately cost the White Sox the game against the Oakland Athletics. Craig Kimbrel threw a wild pitch that cost the White Sox on Monday. Aaron Bummer allowed three consecutive hits with two outs to cough up the game on Wednesday.
Even when the White Sox win they look shaky. Liam Hendriks earned a save on Tuesday but he was charged with an earned run and allowed the tying run to reach the plate. Craig Kimbrel and Aaron Bummer allowed a combined three runs in the eighth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays which flipped a 4-2 lead into a 5-4 deficit.
The bottom line is that there are red flags popping up everywhere with this unit. The talent of these pitchers is unquestionable, the results have been. If the Chicago White Sox want to make a deep playoff run the bullpen needs to pitch up to their championship-caliber ability.