Patched-up bullpen kept White Sox above water in April, May
Subscribe for unlimited digital access.
Try one month for $1!
Subscribe for unlimited digital access. Try one month for $1!
What would have been the two-month forecast for the White Sox on Opening Day if people had known that, in addition to Chris Sale being traded, Jose Quintana would be 2-7 with a 5.60 ERA and Carlos Rodon had done nothing more than throw simulated games in Arizona?
And that James Shields would be limited to four starts because of a strained lat and that Nate Jones, Zach Putnam and Jake Petricka, who were expected to cover the key innings leading up to closer David Robertson, would spend significant time on the disabled list?
And that the Sox’ every-day lineup would be forging ahead without outfielder Adam Eaton, one of its most productive players from last season, who also had been traded?
And that the Sox would play 29 of their first 52 games on the road, with three lengthy trips of nine or 10 games?
There’s something to be said for the Sox taking a 24-28 record into their first game of June on Friday against the Tigers in Detroit. With pitchers such as Mike Pelfrey — who was released by the Tigers in late March — picking up slack, the Sox have held their own under the circumstances of a rebuild and all those injuries.
Some would say these Sox have been easier on their fans’ eyes than the 2016 team, which finished six games below .500, because expectations this season were much lower.
‘‘We’ve had some pretty good battles,’’ manager Rick Renteria said. ‘‘From the win-loss perspective, obviously, it’s not as good as we would want it to be at this point. But we’ve been in a lot of ballgames.
‘‘If we continue to battle and fight and do the things that are necessary to improve . . . and we give ourselves a chance daily, then we’re on the right track.’’
Renteria said his barometer for success, record-wise, is above .500. If not for the unexpected performances of Anthony Swarzak, Tommy Kahnle and, most recently, Chris Beck throwing a lifeline to the bruised and battered bullpen, the Sox wouldn’t even be in striking distance of that right now.
Swarzak’s rare failure to hold a lead in the sixth inning of a 4-1 loss Wednesday to the Red Sox led to the Sox’ first defeat this season when leading after the fifth, sixth, seventh or eighth inning. They are 19-1 when leading after five innings, 19-0 when leading after six, 20-0 when leading after seven and 21-0 when leading after eight.
That’s more than respectable for a bullpen that has been hammered by injuries. Kahnle has a 1.29 ERA with 39 strikeouts and five walks in 21 innings, Swarzak has a 2.59 ERA with 26 strikeouts and six walks in 24„ innings and Beck has lowered his ERA to 2.84. Swarzak was signed to a minor-league deal with an invitation to spring training, and the other two opened the season at Class AAA Charlotte.
‘‘It’s what you have to do to be a successful team,’’ said Beck, whose perfect seventh and eighth innings with four strikeouts Wednesday ran his scoreless streak to eight appearances. ‘‘I know people are counting us out as a rebuilding year, but guys in this locker room don’t see it that way.’’
NOTES: Shortstop Tim Anderson is batting .345 with four home runs and nine RBI in his last 19 games.
• After going 13-10 in April, the Sox were 11-18 in May despite outscoring opponents 140-136.
Follow me on Twitter @CST_soxvan.
White Sox at Tigers
Friday: Derek Holland (4-4, 2.37 ERA) vs. Michael Fulmer (5-3, 2.65), 6:10 p.m., Ch. 9, 890-AM.
Saturday: Miguel Gonzalez (4-5, 4.43) vs. Jordan Zimmermann (4-4, 6.47), 3:10 p.m., CSN, 890-AM.
Sunday: David Holmberg (0-0, 2.51) vs. Justin Verlander (4-4, 4.50), 12:10 p.m., CSN, 890-AM.