(670 The Score) While the White Sox’s powerful offense has drawn plenty of headlines amid a breakout season, the work of the bullpen has also played a key role in the team’s rise to first place in the AL Central.
When the playoffs arrive, the White Sox know their bullpen will grow even more important – and they’re fully confident in a group that features a handful of hard-throwing youngsters. Chicago’s bullpen has a 3.50 ERA, which ranks fifth in MLB. Alex Colome has been a lockdown closer, posting a 0.89 ERA and 1.03 WHIP while converting 12 of 13 save chances in 19 appearances.
The White Sox have also been buoyed by a pair of rookies in Matt Foster (1.88 ERA in 19 appearances) and Codi Heuer (1.77 ERA in 18 appearances). The White Sox on Friday also called up left-hander Garrett Crochet, their first-round pick in the amateur draft in June. Add in Jimmy Cordero, and the White Sox have four young relievers who hit 98 miles per hour or more on the radar gun.
“The whole process of making them feel comfortable here and getting results starts with our development people,” manager Rick Renteria said. “They do not look overwhelmed. Initially, they may have some jitters, but once they get settled down and comfortable ... they have shown what they can do, it's been very good.”
Heuer credited the White Sox coaches and his fellow bullpen mates for their work.
“There is a lot of positive energy down there,” Heuer said. “There is a lot of internal competition. It’s a really good atmosphere for the bullpen. Whenever that bullpen phone rings, we know we have tons of weapons to go out there. It's a great atmosphere."
The White Sox have a history of calling up young pitchers late in seasons and relying on them, perhaps most notably with Chris Sale in 2010. So if the 21-year-old Crochet – who threw a scoreless inning and struck out two in his MLB debut Friday – proves himself, the White Sox will be ready to use him in a big moment.
"We do think that he has the potential to make us stronger here over the next several weeks,” general manager Rick Hahn said.
Crochet left his teammates impressed in his debut.
“That was pretty awesome to see,” Foster said. “He just goes out there and pounds them with a 100-mile-per-hour heater. I wish I had that, but I will take what I have got. You hear the mitt, and it's a loud bang. You say, ‘Oh my gosh, that's crazy.’”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.