The Sox show how the bullpen is supposed to work after the playoffs originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
CLEVELAND – This is how the Chicago White Sox reliever pen is supposed to work.
Since the team’s deal on a trade deadline with Craig Kimbrel, it’s been questioned whether the South Siders could put their relief corps in the menacing form they thought they could be when they acquire the Nearest Future. of the Hall of Fame. Kimbrel’s transition from the north side to the south side has been bumpy to say the least, as evidenced by the 5.40 ERA in a White Sox uniform he wore in Friday night’s game. The rest of the unit was not without a stumbling block either.
But one night after winning the franchise’s first division championship in 13 years, the bullpen put on a playoff-caliber spectacle.
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“The box, to get those strikeouts as they’ve done so effectively, just shows their potential,” White Sox manager Tony La Russa said after the game. “If we can take the advantage in the last third of the game that’s a real asset, what we have there.”
Spotted just a 1-0 lead on Luis Robert’s solo circuit, Dylan Cease was turning a gem in the sixth inning when a heavily chopped ground player hit him in the arm, forcing his early exit. It didn’t matter, however, as the relief corps took over and dominated.
Ryan Burr did enough to finish the scoreless sixth on the board, getting help on a basic blunder from Bradley Zimmer, whose batted ball ended Cease’s night. But the trio of Aaron Bummer, Kimbrel and Liam Hendriks in the seventh, eighth and ninth really did play, with all three pitchers facing just one more than the minimum, a single against Bummer the only flaw of their night.
It was the kind of stopping performance, albeit against the Cleveland Indians Under 500, that the White Sox envisioned when Kimbrel and Ryan Tepera joined the reliever box at the deadline, a potentially dominant group that could be a devastating weapon at playoff time.
“I think the talent we have there is amazing,” Bummer told NBC Sports Chicago earlier this week. “As long as we keep throwing the ball like we’re supposed to, we’ll be in the right place.
“We can go out there and stack with anyone. Any hitter over there, I think we’ve got the clashes and we have the ability to go out there and beat. throw the ball and keep throwing our throws at the highest level possible, and we’re going to win a lot of games. “
Kimbrel was particularly impressive on Friday. He struck out all three hitters he faced in a lightning-fast eighth inning, delivering the kind of performance that made him the splashy addition he was and seemingly justified the White Sox by trading the young Nick Madrigal and Codi Heuer from across town.
He hasn’t shown it often since arriving, but an dominant Kimbrel might be the thing that pushes the White Sox to the limit in their championship run. A 1-2 punch from Kimbrel and Hendriks at the end of games could be almost untouchable, allowing the South Siders to win games like Friday, when an attack that has been inconsistent for much of the season does gathered just one streak on four hits.
“He had everything the other side doesn’t like to see,” La Russa said of Kimbrel, “the command of bad shots.”
Hendriks – who, true to form, pumped his fist as hard on Friday night as he did at the end of Thursday’s deciding game – has been saying all season how important the final week of the regular season is , how important it is to peak right before the playoffs and wear that style of play in October.
The bullpen as a whole did not live up to the sky-high expectations they set for themselves in the spring, but if they can pull it together at the right time – bring Kimbrel back to his Hall of Fame ways and recover Tepera from his current stay on the IL – then this could be the much-vaunted relief corps that was so touted all these months ago.
“These guys have been there and have been doing it. Craig is arguably one of the best tighters ever. Liam has arguably been the best firmer the past two years,” said Bummer. “We can shorten a game, the other six guys over there. It’s kind of just passing the ball to these guys and watching them do their thing.
“Every guy out there has a role to play, and we just need to be able to go out and do it.”
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