The White Sox’ bullpen wasn’t all it was cracked up to be during the first few weeks of the season, but with components such as left-hander Garrett Crochet finding a groove since he came off the injured list four weeks ago, the relief corps is shaping up.
Crochet hasn’t allowed a run in his last 11 outings, including eight since returning from the IL with a strained upper back May 7. It’s a welcome development, especially with prized righty Michael Kopech on the IL with a hamstring strain.
“Now I’m just kind of attacking the zone and finding my rhythm from there,” said Crochet, who owns an ERA of 0.49 in 17 appearances. “It was really just kind of a mindset change after going on the IL, and that’s helped me a good bit.”
Crochet said he’s attacking from the first pitch on.
“You saw it at the beginning of the season to now,’’ manager Tony La Russa said. ‘‘Every time he goes out there, he’s got more confidence, he looks more like the guy that ended [the 2020 season with five dominant, scoreless appearances]. Sometimes you’ve got to work on stuff to get it all together, and it’s coming at a perfect time for us.”
Still only a year removed from getting drafted 11th overall last June, Crochet pitched a perfect eighth in the Sox’ 6-1 victory Tuesday against the Blue Jays and picked up a win. He struck out Teoscar Hernandez and Lourdes Gurriel to keep the score tied at 1.
“That was a big-time assignment, and he took care of it,” La Russa said.
According to FanGraphs, the Sox’ bullpen ranked second in the majors at 2.8 wins above replacement. The Mets were first at 3.1. Per FanGraphs, Crochet (0.5) trails only Liam Hendriks (0.9) and Kopech (0.6) among Sox relievers.
Reopening Night on June 25
As promised, the Sox will return to 100% capacity June 25, when they host the Mariners at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The official announcement came Wednesday. The event will be called Reopening Night, marking the end of seating pods and the return of season-ticket holders to their own seats. Postgame fireworks will go off for the first time since 2019.
Single-game tickets for the rest of the home games go on sale to the general public at noon Tuesday on whitesox.com only.
Mobile ticketing, cashless transactions, level restrictions, enhanced cleaning measures as well as the no-bag policy (except for medical bags, small clutch purses that are 9” x 5” or smaller and diaper bags) will remain in place. Fans who are not fully vaccinated are encouraged to wear a face covering or mask.
Mercedes takes a seat
His .291 average at its lowest in 2021 on the heels of a 2-for-32 (.063) slump with two RBI in his last 11 games, designated hitter Yermin Mercedes sat in favor of Jake Lamb on Wednesday.
After his historic start, pitchers have adjusted, as expected.
“And he needs to make those adjustments,” La Russa said. “I can see that he is.”
Mercedes might have started if not for Andrew Vaughn’s big game Tuesday, La Russa suggested.
“I do believe it’s a combination of making the adjustment to how he’s being pitched,” La Russa said, “gaining experience and how they’re working him over.”