The White Sox made some significant changes to their bullpen Thursday.
The team brought Aaron Bummer and Carlos Rodón back from lengthy stays on the injured list in time for the final four games of the regular season and the playoffs. Veterans Steve Cishek and Ross Detwiler were designated for assignment to make room on the roster.
The biggest of the moves is the return of Bummer, the team’s most important relief weapon. Bummer, who has a 1.23 ERA this season after getting a long-term contract extension during spring training, has the ability to pitch multiple high-leverage innings and get both right- and left-handed hitters out.
While the White Sox bullpen has performed admirably during Bummer’s near month-and-half-long absence, his return is essential for the relief corps ahead of the franchise’s first playoff series in a dozen years.
Rodón, whose 2019 season ended in Tommy John surgery, made just two starts this year before yet another long injury absence. A starting pitcher, his role moving forward into the playoffs remains to be seen, though with hardly any innings under his belt this season and Dane Dunning and, recently, Reynaldo López performing well in the rotation, Rodón would logically be ticketed for a relief role of some sort.
The space-clearing moves to designate Cishek and Detwiler for assignment come as a surprise.
Cishek had not performed well after being considered an important offseason addition, limited mostly to mop-up duty early in the season after the assumption was that he’d be part of the team’s late-inning mix. He posted a 5.40 ERA in 22 appearances.
But the team jettisoning Detwiler is the bigger shock, as he’d been a mostly reliable option for Rick Renteria this season. After spending 2019 bouncing back and forth between starting and relief, he was in a more established role this season and had a fair amount of success, with a 3.20 ERA in 16 relief appearances. Detwiler, though, did struggle recently, giving up four runs in 1.1 innings Sunday in Cincinnati, contributing three of the White Sox staff’s 11 walks that day.
The White Sox are also expected to get Evan Marshall back from the injured list during the final series of the regular season this weekend. That would return all the team’s key relief pieces from their injuries and make the playoff bullpen whole.
Perhaps nowhere on the White Sox playoff roster is more interesting than the bullpen, where the team has plenty of options. Bummer, Marshall, Alex Colomé, Codi Heuer, Matt Foster and Jimmy Cordero all figure to be locks. Garrett Crochet, this summer’s first-round draft pick, has been wildly impressive in his surprise call-up in the last week and a half of the regular season, and he seems to provide a fireballing weapon the White Sox would want to utilize in the postseason. The team only needs three starting pitchers for the opening-round series, so the bullpen could also be packed with pitchers who are typically starters, such as Rodón, López and either Dunning or Dylan Cease, whichever hurler isn’t slated to start a potential Game 3.
It’s an interesting thing to keep an eye on before the playoffs begin Tuesday. The good news, though, is that the White Sox will have all their options available to them now that Bummer and Rodón have returned.