Sunday, July 3, 2022

Who Should Be The White Sox Closer Without Liam Hendriks?


Liam Hendriks is going to be out for at least three weeks with a forearm strain, adding to the long list of major injuries to the White Sox in 2022. The White Sox will now need a new closer through the end of June, but who should it be with Hendriks on the injured list?

Joe Kelly Gets First Shot At Closer For White Sox

Right-handed pitcher Joe Kelly returned from the injured list this week after missing three weeks with a left hamstring strain and for now he’s been given the first shot to be the closer for the White Sox. He struck out two batters in a perfect eighth inning, retiring Detroit’s heart of the lineup Tuesday night.

While that wasn’t a save situation it was the middle of the Tiger’s batting order and Kelly shut them down to keep the White Sox ahead with a comfortable 5-1 lead.

Kelly, now in his 11th MLB season, hasn’t had much experience being a closer, racking up a total of five saves in almost 300 relief appearances. However, Kelly does have a lot of experience pitching in the postseason with the Cardinals, Red Sox and Dodgers, posting a 3.55 ERA in 58.1 playoff innings. That includes his marvelous playoff run in 2018, when Kelly allowed one earned run in 11.1 innings, as he helped the Red Sox win the World Series that year. He also had one save in five appearances for the Dodgers in 2020, when they won the World Series.

So, a veteran guy, with nasty stuff and he has previous experience pitching in big moments.

Kendall Graveman As Closer

For now at least it seems like Kelly is the go-to guy in save situations, or at least the most important situations late in games, which could leave the door open for Kendall Graveman as the closer. Although he hasn’t been available as much as some White Sox fans would like this season, Graveman has been good for the most part. The right-hander has a 2.51 ERA, while striking out 27 batters in 28.2 innings, recording two saves in his 27 appearances.

While Graveman doesn’t have a long track record of being a closer, starting games for the Oakland A’s from 2015-18, he had an incredible run as Seattle’s closer before he was traded to Houston in 2021. Graveman had 10 saves, posting a 0.82 ERA and 0.70 WHIP in 30 games for the Mariners last season.

Outside the Box: Reynaldo Lopez Closer?

Reynaldo Lopez was once thought to be an important member of the White Sox starting rotation, but those expectations quickly declined with each passing start made by the righty. Nevertheless, Lopez has still been able to give the White Sox some value out of the bullpen and the occasional spot start since 2021. He pitched the ninth inning of Tuesday’s 5-1 win over the Tigers and in one-inning appearances Lopez has shown the ability to light up the radar gun.

A guy who can reach 100mph could certainly give Tony La Russa another viable option to close games in the absence of Hendriks.

Pinwheels And Ivy Podcast

So, obviously the big news of the week for the White Sox is the Hendriks injury and what they’ll do with the closer position in the meantime. That’s how we start this week’s Pinwheels and Ivy Podcast, Chicago’s #1 Cubs and White Sox podcast. Hosted by Matt Zawaski, Aldo Soto, Kevin Fiddler and Mitch Kaminski.

Follow them on Twitter @SouthsideZo, @AldoSoto21, @KFidds and @MitchKaminski99. Join the conversation live every Wednesday night at 8 p.m. as they recap all the latest news and rumors about the Cubs and White Sox and cover the biggest stories around MLB. Download and listen to every episode on your preferred podcast app and follow the show on Twitter @PinwheelsIvyPod.

Plus, more encouraging signs from the White Sox offense, that got a great confidence boost with their sweep of the Tigers. Also, what happens at second base and who is the odd-man out once Eloy Jimenez returns. Oh and when is Eloy returning???

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