Chicago White Sox: Breaking Down the 2011 Bullpen
The loss of the White Sox Legend Bobby Jenks probably hurt millions of White Sox fans around the nation. Seeing the stout, bearded man who constantly had to wipe the sweat off his face was a marquee since the White Sox hoisted the World Series trophy in 2005.
Fortunately, a couple other young guns finally have the opportunity to take over Jenks' role and prove that they can bring the South Siders back to the top of the AL Central.
New Face #1: Will Ohman
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2010 Stats (with Baltimore and Florida):
Making his second stint in Chicago, Will Ohman hopes that his career as a White Sox goes better than it did as a Chicago Cub. His 5-year career with the Cubs ended with a mediocre 4.33 ERA. Now that the winds have blown Ohman back to the Windy City, he has become the veteran presence that Kenny Williams has been searching for. Ohman, who has pitched in both leagues in his career, can give great outlooks to some of the younger guys in the bullpen and also prove that he can be an integral 7th or 8th inning presence when needed.
Ohman will most likely never close out a game this season but his K/9 ratio at 8.9 will be useful in clutch situations with opponents in scoring position.
New Face #2: Jesse Crain #26
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2010 Stats (with Minnesota):
Making his appearance for his previous arch-rival, Jesse Crain, like Will Ohman, are two veterans who hope to bolster the Sox chances in 2011. Crain was very similar to Scott Linebrink as in their entrances into games would eventually change the momentum. Several times Crain would enter with a 2 or 3-run lead and the lead would slim down which would put more pressure on the offense to bring in runs. Other than those instances, his .215 BAA was 13th for AL relievers last year. I certainly hope the "Crain Wreck" doesn't show up this season.
Tony Pena #57
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I was a big fan last year of getting rid of Tony Pena. He would often come in during tough situations and instead of getting the big outs, he would continue to give up runs that just seemed to never end. Well this year, Pena finally has the opportunity to make a name for himself as a White Sox pitcher. Since the deadline for Jake Peavy's return is still under question, Pena may have to step into the starter's role and try to give the Sox some good confidence without their ace. When Peavy comes back, and if he returns to his top form, there's a possibility that Pena could be finishing the 2011 season somewhere else.
Sergio Santos #46
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Sergio Santos, just two years after transferring from shortstop to pitcher, has made an unbelievable transition. His fastball which lingers around 96 mph is unbelievably deceiving because of the fact that he has been doing this job for such a short time. Last year, his rookie season, saw a few streaks of one-of-a-kind pitching that grew several looks for possible AL Rookie of the Year.
Stint 1: April 8th - May 20th, 2010
Stint 2: June 25th - August 17th, 2010
Those are unbelievable numbers for any pitcher, nonetheless a rookie. Sergio will play an unparalleled role this season as he will be imminent in the set-up and closer roles when need be. He will need streaks like he had above to give the White Sox a daring chance for October.
Chris Sale #49
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This guy is flat out dirty. Who would have guessed that a 6'5" pitcher weighing only 170 pounds could throw 98 mph consistently. Despite being the 13th overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft, Sale was the first player to step out of the shadows and become a freak in the majors. His 23.1 IP last year was really quite unfortunate because had he been pitching for 60+ innings, his SO's would be way up and his ERA, who knows how low that would be, would give him serious consideration for AL ROTY. He WILL qualify this year and there are not too many big AL rookie names that can get this guy out of his groove. His set-up role will be so important so that his closer can damage everything in his way.
Matt Thornton #37
Other than giving up the ugly home run to Jim Thome last year at Target Field, Matt Thornton never, and I mean never, makes a bad pitch. The funny thing about Thornton is that he throws the same pitch every time, a 96-98 mph fastball, and still makes batters look foolish. This left-handed firearm is without a doubt the best left-handed reliever in the game and certainly his poised frame after every strikeout just proves that this guy is a genuine pro. Deservedly so, Thornton will take over Jenks' role as the closer this season and it will be difficult to do any worse than how Bobby did. Thornton was born to pitch in clutch situations and his .191 BAA was the best in the AL for all lefties. Finally, most left handed pitchers do struggle against right handed batters... but not Thornton. Righties hit just .203 off of him proving that he is a versatile as it gets.