Evan Marshall, White Sox’ bullpen holding down the fort
As the White Sox’ rotation bobs and weaves in a fight against an early-season injury bug and while talented young right-hander Dylan Cease works to establish his footing, the bullpen has more than held its ground.
As the White Sox starting rotation bobs and weaves in a fight against an early-season injury bug, and as talented young right-hander Dylan Cease works to establish consistency, the bullpen has more than held its ground.
Closer Alex Colome, Evan Marshall and Ross Detwiler own 0.00 ERAs. Aaron Bummer is at 1.69, Cori Heuer at 1.59. Jimmy Cordero (4.15) has recorded important high-leverage outs.
Colome has avoided some ninth-inning traffic jams to convert on his three save opportunities. Bummer, perhaps a closer in the making, has the best stuff of the group. Detwiler has enjoyed early stellar results transitioning to the bullpen after getting his hip fixed in the offseason.
And Marshall has picked up where he left off after putting his career back on track in 2019.
“We love getting to come in the game and locking it down, that’s a really cool feeling,” Marshall said. “It seems like our lineup is going to get you at some point during the day and once they give us the lead, being able to shut it down is something we can take pride in. Last year, we had a good group, and this year, the same group of guys, just better.”
No one has been better than Marshall, who owns a 16 1/3 scoreless innings streak over his last 16 games dating to Sept. 7 of last season, limiting opponents to a .132 average with 18 strikeouts during the streak. Marshall’s four-seam fastball is average, at 92 mph this season, but he’s commanding it well and his changeup has been outstanding. His slider complets a mix that has helped him strike out at least two batters in four of his first six outings this season.
“My changeup has taken over as a go-to pitch,” Marshall said. “My ability to use it when I’m behind in the count or going for a strikeout, really any time, for a strike, in the dirt, because I’ve been able to locate it pretty well, that makes my other pitches play up more because the changeup’s always in the back of their mind. It’s a threat, whether I use it or not.”
Signed to a minor-league contract in October 2018 with an invite to spring training after pitching most of that season with the Indians’ Class AAA club at Columbus, Marshall, 30, set career bests in innings (50 2/3), ERA (2.49) and opponents batting average (.228) last season.
The Sox took a 7-5 record into their game against the Brewers Thursday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.
Marshall says watching the Sox lineup slug from his seat in the bullpen has been fun.
“There is no feeling like that,” he said. “In Kansas City, we’re in a 2-2 ballgame and it’s the eighth inning or whatever and me and Bummer and Colome are looking at each other like ‘Who’s going to do it?’ And then all of a sudden we put up seven. That’s a scary feeling for every other pitching staff around the league, knowing that they can’t ever let off the gas because we can put them up in a hurry.
“Looking at last year, we sort of had to piece our offense together a little bit, we had the guys but you had development happening at the same time. TA [Tim Anderson] was on his way up. YoYo [Yoan Moncada] was on his way up. [Jose] Abreu is always good. The emergence of Eloy [Jimenez]. And then this year, Luis Robert is probably the MVP in the AL right now and you add that to a more experienced group of hitters than we had last year, I think it’s got to be at least a little intimidating.
“I know in summer camp, it wasn’t a good feeling matching up against those guys, but that’s kind of an iron sharpens iron type of thing.”