CHICAGO – With the buzz of the Chicago White Sox’s 16-inning victory still circulating Thursday, the question moving forward is, how much energy the bullpen has after heavy use in recent days?
Make no mistake, even with the five-run 14th inning Addison Reed gave up in Tuesday’s eventual 7-5 victory over the Seattle Mariners, the bullpen is actually starting to look in sync again and was a major part of the victory that ended an eight-game losing streak.
Lost in the shuffle of a game that has stirred the senses is the fact that White Sox reliever Jesse Crain now has a career-best 23 consecutive scoreless outings after his 1 2/3-inning performance Wednesday.
The scoreless run has lowered his ERA from 3.86 to its current 0.68 mark, which is second among American League relievers with at least 11 innings pitched.
It also appears that right-hander Nate Jones is starting to figure out the location issues that have plagued him over the first two months. Jones struck out three over two perfect innings Wednesday, throwing a first-pitch strike to four of the six batters he faced.
Combined with his perfect 2 1/3 innings from Tuesday that included five more strikeouts, Jones has not only found some success but has done it despite a heavy workload.
So what does the bullpen have left to give now? The relievers not only absorbed 11 2/3 innings Wednesday, but 5 2/3 innings Tuesday after Jake Peavy’s outing was cut short due to injury.
Heading into Thursday night’s series opener against the Oakland Athletics, the biggest responsibility falls on starter Jose Quintana to have a quality lengthy outing.
Jones will obviously me operating on vapors, as well as Reed, who threw 55 pitches Wednesday in the longest outing of his brief major league career. Brian Omogrosso has also pitched in each of the last three games, throwing 54 pitches Tuesday, while Hector Santiago is now being aimed toward the rotation with Peavy’s injury.
The White Sox are also expected to add a reliever to the fold in the wake of Peavy’s move to the disabled list, but bench coach Mark Parent will have some interesting waters to navigate. Parent will manage the team Thursday night since Robin Ventura is out for the next two games to attend the high school graduation of his daughter back in California.