Two starting pitchers. One promising starting pitcher prospect.
And now, the best relief pitcher on the club.
You have to wonder how many hits to the pitching staff the White Sox can withstand.
On Saturday, before a 7-1 loss to the Indians at Guaranteed Rate Field, they put left-hander Aaron Bummer on the injured list with a strained biceps, the latest tough loss for a team piecing together an early run at the postseason with an 8-7 start in this 60-game season.
Forced to have a bullpen day Saturday to fill the rotation spot voided by injured lefty Carlos Rodon, the Sox got clean outings from starter Matt Foster (two innings), Ian Hamilton, Zack Burdi in his major-league debut, Jace Fry and Ross Detwiler. But Drew Anderson, whose contract was purchased from Schaumburg, got drilled for six runs in the fourth inning. With Zach Plesac dominating the Sox for the second time this season, it was pretty much game over.
The loss of Bummer is significant. Manager Rick Renteria didn’t reveal much about the severity of the injury, but even if it’s 10 days in this short season, it’s a big blow. Bummer was 1-0 with a 1.23 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 7⅓ innings covering seven appearances, taking the ball in high-leverage situations, as he did Friday when he was hurt.
The Sox signed him to a five-year, $16 million extension before the season.
“He was moving around pretty good [Saturday],” Renteria said. “Hoping it’s not anything of significance. We have some power arms, so they’re going to have to pick up the slack.”
The high-leverage innings leading to closer Alex Colome in the ninth will belong to Evan Marshall (0.00 ERA) and Jimmy Cordero (4.15 ERA) and perhaps Codi Heuer (1.69 ERA). Steve Cishek, signed to a one-year, $5.25 million deal with a club option in the offseason, was supposed to be counted on for some of those, but he got a mop-up inning Saturday as he tries to pitch himself back to being competitive. Cishek (11.12 ERA) allowed a 454-foot home run to Domingo Santana in the eighth inning that made it 7-0.
Burdi, featuring 99 mph heat and decent command of his slider, has the stuff to pick up some of that slack, but he’ll probably need to have a couple more outings like his scoreless inning with two strikeouts to earn it.
There might be some strength in numbers. At least there are possibilities.
“Burdi now, and Heuer and even Ian Hamilton and Foster,” Renteria said. “We’re building some arms for our pen that could become high-leverage guys. . . . I wouldn’t be surprised if you see those guys at some point in high-leverage situations.”
One of those young arms pitching in those roles might have been Jimmy Lambert, viewed as a future starter and a promising prospect, who made two good relief appearances. But he was shelved with a forearm strain and transferred to the 45-day IL on Monday.
Bummer came out of the Sox’ 2-0 victory Friday over the Indians in his second inning. He follows right-hander Reynaldo Lopez (shoulder), who landed on the IL after one start, and Rodon (shoulder), who went on the IL after two starts, depleting the rotation. Another bullpen day might be in the works next time through the rotation.
“I’d definitely do it again,” said Foster, who hadn’t started a game since junior college. “It was really different. Obviously I’m used to coming in six, seven, eight. I was thinking about it a lot. That could be a bad thing. But I didn’t really know what to do with myself until, like, 30 minutes before game time. I was like, I probably need to get out there.”