MILWAUKEE — If anything is a given before the trade deadline Friday, it’s that the White Sox will make an addition to their bullpen. There’s room for at least one upgrade in that area.
The current bullpen is prepared to be shaken up a bit.
‘‘Absolutely,’’ left-hander Aaron Bummer said before the frustrated Sox lost 7-1 to the Brewers to open a three-game series between two first-place teams. ‘‘We’re very confident in the group we have. I think the team is very confident in the group we have. If the front office thinks we can get better as a staff, we’re completely cool with that.’’
The bullpen, which is ranked a very respectable fifth in the majors by FanGraphs, was touted by many as perhaps the best in baseball going into the season. That was based on 2020 performances in a 60-game season, a deep stable of power arms and the addition of closer Liam Hendriks during the offseason.
But with right-hander Evan Marshall down with a strained elbow and others, such as Bummer (4.96 ERA) and right-hander Codi Heuer (5.26), lacking consistency, it hasn’t been a dominant group.
Bummer, in his third outing since coming off the injured list with a strained hamstring, allowed no hard contact but walked Willy Adames and Christian Yelich on eight consecutive balls to load the bases when the Brewers pushed across six runs in the seventh inning for a 7-0 lead. Avisail Garcia’s infield out scored a run, and right-hander Ryan Burr, who relieved Bummer, walked two more to force in the Brewers’ third run before Tyrone Taylor hit a grand slam to blow the game open.
Burr’s walk that forced in a run prompted manager Tony La Russa to get ejected for arguing balls and strikes, his first ejection of the season. Shortstop Tim Anderson was ejected in the eighth and had to be restrained by teammates and coaches.
‘‘We play against the other team, we do not play against the umpires,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘You get your team to play with emotion to succeed and compete. We got emotional. A couple of those calls did not decide the outcome.’’
La Russa said he thought the Brewers’ Luis Urias was ‘‘ducking pitches,’’ his long stride lowering his strike zone at the letters.
‘‘He ducked and got away with it,’’ La Russa said. ‘‘That’s why I was upset, but the umpires did not decide that game.’’
That’s a fact. The Sox managed only five hits, one of them a home run by Andrew Vaughn in the eighth, and walked nine batters.
‘‘We have to go out and preserve leads and keep us in games and win games late,’’ Bummer said of the Sox’ relievers. ‘‘That’s just what we need to do. We have the next two months to make sure we’re still doing that.’’
With pitching matchups featuring five starters with ERAs below 2.40, the series set up to be decided by the bullpens.
Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito allowed one run in six innings, striking out three and walking a season-high five (one intentional). He threw 91 pitches, 53 for strikes. Right-hander Freddy Peralta, who was limited to 51 pitches as the Brewers manage his innings, threw four scoreless innings.
‘‘I thought I pitched pretty well,’’ Giolito said. ‘‘I’m cool with my performance. I lacked a little command with some of those walks.’’
With a nine-game lead in their division entering the game, the Sox already are thinking about October.
‘‘Trying to make this team into a true World Series contender, that is the end goal,’’ Bummer said. ‘‘Whether it’s the same guys now as a week from now or not, our job is to get our job done and preserve leads and wins. [Trades are] left up to [the front office], and we’re going to be happy with the guys we’re rolling out there, whoever it may be.’’