If you are curious why the White Sox have lost 7 of their last 8 games, this might be part of the problem. Until A.J. Pierzynski doubled in the 9th innning today, Chicago hitters had went 61 straight at bats without getting a hit against their oppositions bullpen. This is not a misprint. Let me repeat. 61 official at bats without reaching base against a reliever. Let me repeat. This is not a misprint.
One of the best hitting teams in 2006, the White Sox are at the bottom of most offensive stats in the Majors. Batting Average, OBP, doubles, triples. They are number 30. Not only are they last in hits, get this, they are 60 hits behind the second to last Cardinals. (393 to 453) The Sox are next to last in slugging and ribbies. They have been this dismal playing half their games in a park recognized as one of the best places to hit in the league.
Who has the highest batting average of Sox players with over 100 at bats? Darin Erstad, who was batting .264 before he got hurt. Next on this list would be Pierzynski at .248. Did someone hit the button on the way back machine because looking at these stats you would think it’s 1967.
Here’s the more amazing part. The White Sox would have won 7 of their last 8, if the games would have ended after 5 innings. Outside of closer Bobby Jenks, the bullpen has been atrocious during the past month. Try this stat on. White Sox relievers are 2-6 with a 9.06 ERA in their past 22 games.
During the off-season, the White Sox completely remade their bullpen by trading for a bunch of power arms. The Sox had great success over the past 2 years, obtaining flame-throwers Jenks, Matt Thornton, and Mike MacDougal. The idea was to add the high potential/high risk Andrew Sisco, Nick Masset, and David Aardsma to the team and let pitching coach Don Cooper try to work his magic. Well, the rabbit is still in the hat.
Sure it’s nice to call up out of the bully someone who can bring the gas and leave runners stranded, but few are able to do this without walking as many as they strikeout. Facing the White Sox bullpen is like living the life of Borat. You’re looking up at 2 balls before you know it. This is why I don’t rate strikeouts as that important of a category. (More on this topic later this week.)
At the beginning of the year, I thought the Indians bullpen would keep them from winning the division, but so far they have been just good enough to finish out games. I still think their bullpen and manager will keep the Tigers, Twins, and White Sox in the AL Central race, but the White Sox are going to have to kickstart their offense and take advantage of some of their minor league relief pitching or it will be just a 3 team race.
One of baseball’s best newspaper columnists is the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Rogers. Rogers offered up an interesting deal in the Sunday edition. Send Mark Buerhle and Joe Crede for Alex Rodriguez and Melky Cabrera. Kind of a last ditch shakeup for both teams, with all of the major players potential free agents at the end of the year. I’m curious what Yankee fans think about this one? I could live without Cabrera being part of the deal, instead getting a mid-level pitching prospect, but both teams need some type of shake-up.