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White Sox’ bullpen panned, but Aaron Bummer still confident

In April, the White Sox’ bullpen had a 4.50 ERA. Its seven blown saves were tied for the most in the majors.

Texas Rangers v Chicago White Sox
“We’re going to get rolling, and we’re going to be where we want to be and everything’s going to start clicking,” White Sox reliever Aaron Bummer said.
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Heading into the season, the White Sox’ bullpen was projected to be one of the team’s strengths. With the addition of closer Liam Hendriks, this was a vaunted group expected to secure a lot of wins.

But through the first month, the relievers are still working on living up to the preseason hype.

In April, the Sox’ bullpen had a 4.50 ERA. Its seven blown saves were tied for the most in the majors.

“It humanizes all of us,” left-hander Aaron Bummer said. “I think we all believed that we were going to be able to [impose] our will on everyone. I think each guy has that mentality; when we’re on our game, we’re going to dominate. It’s just being able to get to that point as much as possible. We’re going to get rolling, and we’re going to be where we want to be, and everything’s going to start clicking.”

Like the bullpen as a whole, Bummer has had a bit of a drop-off in his performance this season, which he attributes to an issue with his mechanics. He said he feels like he’s pulling off of pitches and sending them too far east and west rather than north and south.

Bummer has had to work through this problem before. He said that in 2018 he experienced similar issues but was able to kick them. This year, his strikeouts are down and the walks are up, but Bummer is confident that he’ll right the ship and do his part to get the bullpen back on track.

“It’s a simple thing of not trying to do too much, not trying to create, not trying to fight against anything,” Bummer said. “Just trust in your ability that it’s enough to get people out. With that mentality, you kind of simplify everything, and things start rolling downhill a little bit easier.”

Bats, starting pitching clicking

Bullpen woes aside, the other two-thirds of the Sox are thriving. On offense, they have the majors’ highest wins above replacement and a league-leading .265 batting average. They trail only four teams in runs.

“We are hitting the crap out of the baseball,” Bummer said. “Our starting pitchers are giving us a chance dang-near every single time out.”

The rotation had a 3.11 ERA going into Saturday, and the back end of the starting corps has been the strength lately.

Carlos Rodon threw the 20th no-hitter in Sox history April 14 and struck out 12 Tigers in six innings of one-run ball in his last start.

After a wobbly first four starts, Dylan Cease pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out nine in his last start against the Tigers.

Lynn back, Engel still recovering

Starter Lance Lynn made his first appearance since April 15 on Saturday. He had been on the 10-day injured list with a strained right trapezius.

There is still no timetable on outfielder Adam Engel’s return to the roster, though he did on-field rehab Saturday.

“He was doing his leg work,” Sox manager Tony La Russa said. “It’s still a work in progress. I don’t know that they’ve given a day yet.”

Engel has been out since spring training with a strained right hamstring.