The White Sox bullpen has forged ahead in the absence of left-hander Aaron Bummer, perhaps its best commodity.
Their 7-2 victory over the Tigers on Monday night was the latest case in point. Veteran Steve Cishek, who has struggled, allowed a sharp single to Jonathan Schoop, then got Jeimer Candelario on a soft liner to shortstop Tim Anderson to end the fifth inning in relief of starter Gio Gonzalez.
The only Tigers baserunners after that against Codi Heuer, Zack Burdi, Evan Marshall and Jose Ruiz came on a leadoff walk issued by Heuer in the sixth and Schoop reaching on third baseman Yoan Moncada’s error leading off the eighth.
Burdi struck out JaCoby Jones and Willi Castro and retired Miguel Cabrera on a soft tap toward the mound.
While the more experienced Marshall (2.61 ERA) continues to be manager Rick Renteria’s most trusted late-inning bridge to closer Alex Colome (0.00 ERA, 5-for-5 in save chances), Matt Foster (0.00 ERA in seven appearances), Heuer (3.24 in seven appearances) and Burdi (2.25 ERA in four appearances) are getting increased opportunities late in games as they pitch in the major leagues for the first time.
“What Matt Foster and Codi Heuer have done has been fantastic in terms of seizing their opportunities and putting themselves in the position to help us for the long term,” general manager Rick Hahn said before Monday’s game. “Hopefully we will continue to have the opportunity to see other young guys do the same thing here which in the process should lead to more Ws.”
Burdi struck out Jones with a 99-mph four-seam fastball and made Cabrera look uncomfortable on three consecutive sliders. Heuer features a 98-mph sinking fastball.
“These guys continue to show us that they’re capable of attacking the strike zone,” manager Rick Renteria said. “Obviously these guys have very good arms and their ability to hammer the strike zone with good stuff is showing.”
The bullpen has been unscored on in four of the Sox’ last five games. Veteran lefty Ross Detwiler hasn’t allowed an earned run in eight games.
Bummer (biceps strain) is getting treatment after going on the 10-day injured list Aug. 8 and there is not timetable for a return yet, Hahn said.
“Regardless of the player or injury, the first step is calming down and healing the injury and the second step is building back up to game play,” Hahn said. “We are still on that first stage with Aaron in terms of calming down the biceps and after that is officially all behind him, then we will come up with a program.”
Signed to a five-year, $16 million extension in the offseason, Bummer owns a 1.23 ERA in seven appearances.
“The good news is as a reliever, we don’t have to get him quite as stretched out as we would as a starter. His ramp up hopefully won’t take too long.”