Chicago White Sox: Bullpen Could Be a Major Factor in the Final Weeks

Jon FromiSenior Analyst ISeptember 5, 2012

Donnie Veal is one of a host of bullpen reinforcements being used by the White Sox so far this month.
Donnie Veal is one of a host of bullpen reinforcements being used by the White Sox so far this month.Dave Reginek/Getty Images

Chicago White Sox skipper Robin Ventura has used his September call ups to add arms in his bullpen and he may need every one of those arms to help get his team to the playoffs.

The White Sox now have 16 pitchers for Ventura to call upon. He has taken full advantage of the bloated pen in the last few days, and then some.

In the five games Chicago has played in September, no starter has tossed more than six innings. Ventura has used five or more relievers in three of those games. That included sending out Dewayne Wise to the mound to mop up Tuesday's blowout loss to the Twins.

Jake Peavy had what was a short start in picking up his 10th win of the season, giving up a single run in six innings before giving way to Bret Myers, Matt Thornton and Addison Reed. In all, the bullpen has thrown in 20.2 of the last 43 innings for the White Sox.

With so many arms at his disposal, Ventura hasn't been afraid to use a pitcher in a situational mode, often bringing in a Leyson Septimo or Donnie Veal to face one batter. With Jose Quintana being chased after just 1.1 innings Tuesday night, Dylan Axelrod got some work upon returning to the team.

The White Sox pitching staff gets what must be a welcome break with an off day Thursday. Still, they very well could require some solid support behind this weekend's starters against the visiting Royals.

Francisco Liriano is coming off of a pair of starts where he has struggled a bit with control when he faces Luis Mendoza. Mendoza has been tough on the White Sox, so Ventura will not hesitate to yank Liriano off the mound in favor of a bullpen arm to keep Chicago in Friday's opener.

Chris Sale is scheduled to take his regular turn Saturday. Hector Santiago will likely earn Sunday's start coming off a winning five-inning start Monday night. In his first career start, Santiago struck out six and left with a 2-1 lead before a half dozen relievers took it the rest of the way.

As the White Sox are forced to depend on younger arms like Sale, Quintana and Santiago in key games, any opportunity to keep the pitch counts down will maximize the rotation's effectiveness. Don't be shocked to see a steady stream of pitching changes again this weekend.