White Sox manager Pedro Grifol on beleaguered bullpen: ‘I believe in these guys’

White Sox relievers own the highest ERA in the majors.

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White Sox relief pitcher Aaron Bummer covers home after throwing a wild pitch on Opening Day in Houston.

White Sox relief pitcher Aaron Bummer covers home after throwing a wild pitch on Opening Day in Houston.

Kevin M. Cox/AP

The White Sox’ bullpen had a staggering 7.57 ERA and .308 batting average against going into the doubleheader Tuesday against the Phillies, alarming numbers for a unit that only a year ago touted itself among the best in baseball.

Those numbers ranked last in the majors.

Granted, closer Liam Hendriks, a two-time American League Reliever of the Year, is not part of the pen as he battles non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. And left-hander Garrett Crochet isn’t expected to be part of the bullpen till next month as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery. Hendriks could be back, too.

That said, the holdovers expected to hold down the fort while they’re away have dropped the ball in the first 16 games, a big reason why the Sox were off to a 6-11 start after losing Game 1.

Joe Kelly (10.13), Jake Diekman (9.00), Aaron Bummer (7.50), Reynaldo Lopez (6.23) and Kendall Graveman (5.40) own the biggest ERAs, although Graveman, Bummer and Lopez lowered theirs with three innings of scoreless relief in the Sox’ 3-0 victory in Game 2.

Manager Pedro Grifol stood behind them Tuesday morning.

“I believe in these guys,” Grifol said.

Jimmy Lambert (3.72 ERA), who along with Diekman is shouldering a heavy workload with 10 appearances each, was a pitch away from a scoreless outing but served up a two-run homer to Josh Harrison in a 7-4 loss in Game 1.

“This game can get tough, and our guys are really good,” Grifol said. “They’re going to figure it out quick.”

Now would be a good time for a team that hasn’t won a series.

“They are going to continue to battle through it, and we’ll be sitting here a few weeks from now saying how these guys have made adjustments,” Grifol said.

The Sox’ bullpen hasn’t come cheap. The front office invested $17 million over 2022 and ’23 for Kelly and $24 million for Graveman for the 2022, ’23 and ’24 seasons. Last season, Diekman was acquired in a trade and is getting paid $3.5 million this season.

Hendriks is in the third year of a three-year, $54 million contract. The club holds a $15 million option for 2024.

Injury updates

Third baseman Yoan Moncada can come off the injured list Friday, but it doesn’t seem like a sure thing. He landed on the 10-day IL retroactive to April 11 with a sore lower back.

“Not sure how close he is to getting back,” Grifol said. “When he does come back, I want him to be feeling good, not at 80%. There is still a lot of season left. I want him to get rid of this thing and give us his best.”

Kelly, who strained a groin muscle running on the field during the bench-clearing dustup in Pittsburgh on April 9, threw a bullpen session Monday. He would be eligible to return from the IL Monday.

Shortstop Tim Anderson (sprained left knee) is “progressing,” Grifol said, and did some light jogging and work Monday.

When Anderson landed on the 10-day IL last Tuesday, the Sox said he would be out two to four weeks.

This and that

Right-hander Nick Padilla was called up from Triple-A Charlotte to serve as the 27th player for the doubleheader.

u Infielder/outfielder Nick Solak, claimed off waivers by the Sox from the Mariners on Friday but designated for assignment two days later, was claimed by the Braves.

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