Holding the Line: How the White Sox Stellar Pen is Anchored by a Couple of Journeymen

I have to quickly get this article in before another member of the White Sox gets sent to The Black Lodge for the season.

Whew. Okay, Let’s do this.

For as bad as the White Sox rotation looked the first time through the order, the White Sox of 2020 have had an amazing bullpen. And as we all know, the modern game is a battle of the bullpens. Let’s take a closer look at this crew.

This ‘pen can be broken up into smaller groups:

The Honorable Mentions: Jace Fry, Matt Foster. The former a candidate to take a trip to Schaumberg, the latter an incomplete, so far.

The Funky Delivery Group: Steve Cishek, who has been the most disappointing member so far, posting a -0.1 fWAR so far in 2020.

The Flamethrowers: Jimmy Cordero, Codi Heuer, and Ian Hamilton. Heuer looks unhittable and could be a major league closer in the future with his 0.60 FIP and 30 percent K-Rate. Cordero has some inconsistencies but is pumping his fastball in the upper 90s and looks like another classic Don Cooper scrap heap reclamation project. And Hamilton is just happy to be out there on the mound and not taking foul balls off the chin. Once those jitters settle, his stuff could be dominant.

(Bonus: Hamilton and Cordero also make up a sub-group ‘Excellent Uniform Embellishments.’ With Hamilton rocking the stirrups above the knee, like a silent movie director of old, and Cordero with the rolled-up cuff of his sleeve. All he needs is a pack of smokes in there and he could be a full-fledged member of the Greasers)

The Closer of the Immediate Future: Aaron Bummer

Aaron had some control issues out the gate which were, to put it bluntly, a Bummer. Since then, he has looked FILTHY. His sinker is at 96+ is unfair. His FIP is -0.18 (NEGATIVE!) which is Top 5 for all relievers in baseball. His time in the ninth inning will come.

The Current Closer: Alex Colome

Always an adventure, the current stopper is getting the job done with 3 saves and no earned runs, but Sox fans are blowing through their budget of brown paper sacks in the process. At times, his cutter is devastating, but Colome has this pesky habit of getting two easy outs followed by a struggle to get the third. He’s got to clean that up, or risk getting swapped with Bummer.

But the most important group to the Sox ‘pen success so far in 2020:

The Journeymen: Ross Detwiler and Evan Marshall

Detwiler, 34, in his twelfth season with his seventh team, is familiar with the ire of Sox fans. In 2019, he started 12 games, with an ERA and FIP pushing seven, making him terrible in both traditional and advanced stats.

We all assumed he would be long gone in 2020, but in November of 2019, he re-signed with the Sox. “Well, Charlotte needs starters too,” we all thought, then the world ended. Baseball came back, and so did Ross. The minor league season was canceled, Summer Camp started and Big Boss Ross was getting innings much to everyone’s chagrin. When he made the cut for the main roster we were at a loss for words.

Now we’re at a loss for words for totally different reasons:

Pitching exclusively in relief, all Ross did was retire the first 16 batters he faced. He’s given up two hits total in 8.1. innings. He’s struck out seven, walked none, and owns a 0.2 fWAR.

He’s doing this with a pretty even mix of his, slider, and sinker and a four-seamer that rarely registers above the low 90s

According to Baseball Savant, here are his percentile rankings:

Via Baseball Savant

With Rodon going down with Shoulder soreness, there is a chance for Ross to get some starts, let’s hope Ricky looks elsewhere and leaves well enough alone.

Marshall, 30, is in his seventh season and second with the ChiSox. His 2019 was solid, but nothing to write home about. A 2.49 ERA, but a 4.30 FIP showed some cracks in his peripherals.

2020 is a different beast altogether. Evan has been stingy. He’s sporting a 0.00 ERA and minuscule 0.52 FIP. His K/9 sitting at 15.88 with a BB/9 of 3.18. How is he doing it? His changeup. He’s relying on it in 2020, as he did in 2019, the difference is his missing way more bats and with pinpoint control this season. He’s already posted a 0.3 fWAR in 2020. Let’s check his Baseball Savant percentile grades too:

Via Baseball Savant

These two might not light up the radar guns or get the call in the 9th, but the success of the Sox in 2020 is going to rely heavily on these two keeping it up.

Somewhere in South Bend, the Hawkaroo is smiling.

Featured Photo: Associated Press

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