Rounding out the 2018 retrospects will be the bullpen, it’s hard to judge a bullpen on a team that isn’t exactly prioritizing winning that years World Series. What I have done is try and find pitchers that had standout seasons or other notable performances, ranging from the best of the bullpen, to the surprise swing man, and a guy that probably saw his White Sox career end as he was sent down to triple A after a horrible first half. A stat that I use to look at for bullpen arms is the shutdown or meltdown stat, there is the fangraphs glossary page for it in the link, but oversimplified it is a stat that gives a reliever a shutdown if the added more than 0.5 points of win probability and a meltdown if they make their team less likely to win by subtracting the same amount. It’s a way to get away from the save stat, which is garbage, and see what a reliever did to make their team more likely to win, not just because they were on the mound in the ninth.
We’ll start with the best reliever this year for the Sox, Jace Fry, who pitched in 59 games pitching 51.1 innings. He had 12.27 K/9, gave up less than 1 home run per nine innings, and a 23.4 K-BB rate, earning a shutdown in 21 games. He only allowed 25% of hits to be hard hits which was 5th best percentage among all relievers this year, even better only 5.7% of hits were considered barrels.A favorite of his five pitches he used was his cut fastball, it was his best pitch generating a 49.4 percent whiff rate, he ranked 25th in the league in total whiff rate, with 14.9 percent, with at least 750 pitches.
Next we’ll look at the swing man, Hector Santiago, he made 7 starts and appeared out of the pen in 42 other games, pitching 102 innings. He was used primarily in low leverage long relief roles and had a hard time against lefties walking more than he struck out in 26.1 innings. He used a sinker, change up, curve ball, and a slider, he also mixed in a screwball 1.9% of the time and only threw a fastball 0.2% of the time, generating a 20.4 whiff rate.Overall he had a 7.84 K/9 rate, allowed 4.44 BB/9, and a 9.4 K-BB percentage, he had a 1.58 WHIP and left 78 percent of runners on base. He was exceptional about ,missing the sweet spot of the bat allowing a 31.5 hard hit percentage and had 8 shutdowns to only 2 meltdowns.
Now for the pitcher who pitched himself out of the majors by the all star break and maybe out of a White Sox uniform, Chris Volstad. He pitched 47.1 innings this year over half against righties, he fared much worse vs lefties than righties, only 3.1 of those innings came in the second half. In that half season he had only 3 shutdowns and 7 meltdowns. In his just over 47 innings he gave up 38.6 percent hard hit rate and 9 home runs, and only got whiffs on 12.8 percent of his pitches, he did not miss many bats.
The last member of the bullpen I’ll take a look at is Juan Minaya, he pitched 46.2 innings and over half of those were against righties and in low leverage situations. In those innings he had 11.9 K/9, 5.59 BB/9 rate with a 13.9 percent k-BB rate. Unlike Volstad Juan did not give up a lot of hard contact or home runs, he gave up 0.58 hr/9 and a 33.8 percent hard hit rate. He had a 26.5 whiff rate this season, with his slider and his curve used as his wipe out pitch. He finished the season with shutdowns and 12 meltdowns.
That wraps up the bullpen, and team, look back at 2018. There are some major bright spots in this bullpen, the top being Jace Fry. Not often do you find a reliever that has 5 good pitches to deploy in an outing. The bullpen though is evolving, I’m sure when we look back in 2019, hopefully in a much happier light, there are some other guys we had a quick peek at this year that will be headlining the article. Bullpens and bullpen arms are ever changing and quite volatile, some guys that got a look this year were Nate Jones, Ryan Burr, and Ian Hamilton. Jones had his option picked up by the team and could be an early top trade candidate assuming health (which has been anything but a given) and the team not being in contention. The other two are still prospects that don’t have a full major league service year under their belt.
Thanks for reading and as always drop your thoughts below or on the twitter.