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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – USC baseball alumnus Bernardo Flores Jr. made his MLB debut for the Chicago White Sox last night, becoming the 116th Trojan to play in the Major Leagues.

Flores entered in relief for the White Sox in the eighth inning, tossing one frame in an 11-6 victory over the Kansas City Royals. The southpaw was drafted by Chicago in 2016 and added to the club’s 40-man roster last year, before receiving his first call-up last month and then making his MLB debut on Thursday.

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Flores progressed steadily through the White Sox system, reaching Hi-A in 2017 and AA the following season. In four minor league seasons, Flores owns a 3.18 ERA, with 342 strikeouts and 92 walks.

During his collegiate career, Flores tossed 91.1 innings in three seasons, serving mainly as a reliever, but also making eight starts for the Trojans. He had his best season in 2015, tossing a career high 44.2 innings while posting a 3-1 record, one save and a 3.83 ERA. For his career, Flores struck out 85 batters and walked 35.

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He was drafted in the seventh round of the 2016 draft by the White Sox as one of 12 Trojans selected that year. He joins fellow 2016 draftee Brooks Kriske as the second USC alum to make their MLB debut this season after Kriske broke through with the Yankees in July.

Rosenthal bounced back with the Kansas City Royals, prior to a midseason trade to San Diego. The 30-year-old threw 23 2⁄3 innings with a 1.90 ERA. The 6´2´´, 235 pound righthander averaged nearly 15 K/9 while only walking just more than three batters per nine. He posted a 2.22 FIP, as well. Rosenthal missed the 2018 season after Tommy John surgery, and he then proceeded to struggle in 2019.

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Treinen threw just more than 25 innings in 2020, but his strikeout rate was down significantly. The 6´5´´, 225 pound righty averaged 7.71 K/9 and only 2.81 BB/9. The 32-year-old sinkerballer posted a 3.86 ERA with a 3.15 FIP. The member of the World Series champion Dodgers will likely be looking for his fourth team this winter.

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Brad Hand and Archie Bradley are two more names that joined the free agent reliever class. Hand, a 6´3´´, 220 pound southpaw was available to the league on outright waivers from Cleveland earlier this offseason and nobody claimed Hand for mere money. The 30-year-old reliever pitched in 23 games last year encompassing 22 innings. The lefty averaged 11.86 K/9 with 1.64 BB/9 and compiled 1.1 fWAR with a 2.05 ERA and 1.37 FIP.

The 28-year-old Bradley was traded from the Diamondbacks to Cincinnati at the deadline and he pitched 18 1⁄3 innings total, with a 2.93 ERA and 2.59 FIP. The 6´4´´, 225-pounder didn’t strike out as many hitters in 2020, averaging ony 8.84 K/9 last year after 10.93 K/9 in 2019, but he did increase the walk rate.

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Overall, this market has been slow-moving so far, but it’s ripe with talent that can help teams.

Call to the Pen
The White Sox have done a pretty solid job overall of cobbling together bullpen assets and displaying a representative level group of arms. La Russa is often credited with inventing the modern bullpen. He likes using a designated closer, setup men from the right and left sides, and having the rest fall in line. New rules could change the way he operates, but bullpen management should be a strength in the new-look dugout.

With the eighth-best bullpen in the sport last year, this isn’t an area of weakness for the White Sox — but strengthening a strength is likely necessary in a wide-open American League. The majority of their above-average group will return in 2021. Aaron Bummer, a 27-year-old southpaw, ran into some injury issues last year after signing a contract extension but he still managed to average 13.5 K/9 with a 0.96 ERA. In 2019, Bummer threw 67 2⁄3 innings and posted a 2.13 ERA.

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Evan Marshall just signed a $2 million deal to remain with the club and the 30-year-old has been stellar. The right-handed changeup specialist posted a 2.04 FIP and 2.38 ERA over 22 2⁄3 innings. Marshall struck out almost 12 hitters per nine innings and walked just 2.78.

In addition to those stable veterans, some young hurlers burst onto the scene in 2020 as well.

Codi Heuer, 24, posted a 1.52 ERA in 23 2⁄3 innings. The 6´5´´, 195-pounder averaged 9.5 K/9 with a 2.77 FIP. Matt Foster is a 25-year-old righty who displayed a plus changeup with increased fastball velocity. Over 28 2⁄3 innings, the former 20th-rounder averaged 9.73 K/9 with a 2.20 ERA and 2.88 FIP. Garrett Crochet’s role is yet to be defined, but he could be an option in the 2021 bullpen before too long as well.

Lefty Jace Fry and rubber-armed righty Jimmy Cordero are still on the roster as well. The 27-year-old Fry posted a 1.83 FIP vs lefties and averaged more than 12 K/9 against righthanders. Cordero pitched in seemingly every game for the 2020 club and he dealt with some overuse. He would strand lots of runners, and his FIP (3.87) was much better than an ERA that came in higher than six.

One look at the 40-man roster indicates a plethora of younger options, as well. Zack Burdi’s stuff looked all the way back while harboring similar command issues to the past. Bernardo Flores Jr. is a starter, but could be used in a relief role. Jimmy Lambert looked solid in a brief stint, and he’s a bullpen candidate if he gets healthy once again. Tyler Johnson was added to the 40-man roster this offseason, Emilio Vargas was acquired via waivers and José Ruiz is hanging by a thread.

The argument can be made that the White Sox have enough in the current bullpen to compete in the American League. Bummer, Heuer and others could handle the ninth inning. Deadline trades are common for contenders, and 2021 likely won’t be any different. Should the White Sox spend a considerable piece of their arbitrarily set budget on a closer? It’s a valid question.

Fans and observers in many cases would prefer that money be spent on another starting pitcher, or a better option in right field or designated hitter. The club hasn’t shown a willingness or propensity to play at the very top of the free agent market in the majority of cases. They did it last year with catcher Yasmani Grandal — a rarity. But they’ve done it in the past with relief pitching, multiple times.

All indications are that they’d be content doing it with Hendriks. He’s the top target, and while it shouldn’t be beyond criticism, at least it’s the right player for the closer role. The White Sox feel comfortable when the financial ceiling is lower, and the bidding for the 31-year-old shouldn’t get too uncomfortable.

Hendriks would make an already-great White Sox bullpen one of the very best in the sport. La Russa likes shortening games, and having the Aussie fireballer at the back end does just that. The conjecture over the appropriate use of resources will and should continue, but nobody can deny that the club would be setting themselves up to be one of the favorites in the American League by adding Hendriks. And that’s kind of the point of this whole operation.

Flores is the first USC alum to pitch for the White Sox since the late Tom Seaver, who passed away earlier this week.

USC has produced 116 major leaguers over the years — more than any other NCAA program in the nation. Trojan alums boast 67 All-Star appearances, 29 World Series appearances, nine Cy Young awards, three Hall of Fame inductions, three Rookie of the Year Awards, one American League MVP and one World Series MVP.

Welcome to the Show, Bernardo!

— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) September 4, 2020

#BernardoFloresJr, aka @flo_rider95, is the first USC product to pitch for the #WhiteSox since #TomSeaver in 1986. @USC_Baseball

— SoxNerd (@SoxNerd) September 4, 2020

I thought about this afterward last night and going into this it had special feeling about it. For me it is tremendous honor and privilege to be the first @USC_Baseball Since the great late Tom Seaver To pitch for the @whitesox. #RIP41

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Garrett Crochet is part of the 2021 plans for the Chicago White Sox.
When the 2020 season ended for Garrett Crochet and the Chicago White Sox, we were forced to fear the worst. He left game three of their series with the Oakland Athletics with an injury that had us all fearing he was going to need Tommy John surgery.

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Well, when Rick Hahn addressed the media after the season, he announced that Crochet would not need the surgery and would be ready to go by Spring Training. It was a sigh of relief because losing him for all of 2021 would have been a tough pill to swallow.

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Crochet was drafted in the 2020 MLB Draft. It is very rare for a player to make his MLB debut during the season he was drafted but those sorts of things happened during the COVID-19 season. He was brilliant but when the season ended you had to wonder if the White Sox would have him down in the Minor Leagues when they get their seasons back.

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It sounds like he will be given the chance to make the MLB team for the 2021 season. New White Sox pitching coach, Ethan Katz, went on the White Sox Talk Podcast to discuss all things involved with White Sox pitching. Of course, the topic of Garrett Crochet came up and Katz had some interesting things to say.

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Katz told Chuck Garfien that “He is going to be a big part of what we do next year”. That really sounds like Katz believes that Crochet will be used with the big club starting on Opening Day. You have to think that he has big-time input and inside information into what the organization believes as well. Katz is a very smart pitching mind and has been successful with helping out some of the best young pitchers in the game.

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HOT: The White Sox made the right catching decision
Crochet has all of the talents in the world. He can throw the ball north of 100 miles per hour. He played in five games in 2020 and he was dominant in that short sample size. We saw what happened with Giolito when Katz started helping him in the 2018-19 offseason. It makes you wonder what he might be able to do with a kid like Garrett Crochet. We don’t know if it will be as a reliever or a starter in 2021 but Katz definitely sees him as someone who will be with the big club right away.

If you’re unsure of what this is, read our Top Prospect Vote primer.

Matthew Thompson absolutely cruised to a win as our No. 10 prospect, taking 49% (120 of 243 votes). Last year, Thompson finished 12th in our poll.

In the 2020 poll, Blake Rutherford finished as our No. 10 prospect in the vote.

Thompson’s easy win appears to be setting up an incredible race for the No. 11 prospect, as four very different players — Yermín Mercedes, Benyamin Bailey, Blake Rutherford and Zack Burdi — are fighting to move on.

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Newcomer Lambert earned 10 votes and finished eighth.

South Side Sox Top White Sox Prospects for 2021
Andrew Vaughn — 45% (Crochet 26%, Kopech 19%, Madrigal 9%, Kelley 1.0%, Rutherford 0.6%, Adolfo/Sheets 0.2% Stiever/Thompson 0%)
Garrett Crochet — 42% (Kopech 19%, Madrigal 14%, Céspedes 4%, Kelley 0.7%, Rutherford 0.4%, Adolfo/Stiever 0.2%,Sheets/Thompson 0%)
Michael Kopech — 70% (Madrigal 22%, Kelley 4%, Céspedes 3%, Vera 1%, Adolfo/Rutherford/Sheets/Thompson 0.4%, Stiever 0%)
Nick Madrigal — 76% (Céspedes 10%, Kelley 9%, Rutherford/Vera 1.2%, Stiever/Thompson 0.6%, Adolfo/Dalquist/Sheets 0.3%)
Jared Kelley — 47% (Céspedes 32%, Stiever 8%, Rutherford 4%, Thompson 3%, Adolfo/Vera 2%, Sheets 1.4%, Bailey 1.2%, Dalquist/0.9%)
Yoelqui Céspedes — 59% (Stiever 17%, Thompson 9%, Rutherford 4%, Adolfo/Bailey 3%, Vera 2.2%, Sheets 1.9%, Dalquist 1.6%, González 0.3%)
Jonathan Stiever — 41% (Thompson 18%, Vera 11%, Bailey 8%, Burdi 7%, Rutherford 6%, Dalquist 3.2%, Adolfo/Sheets 2.9%, González 0.6%)
Gavin Sheets— 29% (Vera 24%, Thompson 21%, Burdi 9%, Bailey 6%, Rutherford 5%, Dalquist 4%, Adolfo 3%, Rodriguez 1%, González 0.2%)
Norge Vera— 31% (Thompson 27%, Rutherford 12%, Mercedes 9%, Burdi 8%, Bailey 7%, Adolfo 4%, Dalquist 2%, Rodriguez 1%, González 0%)
Matthew Thompson— 49% (Mercedes 10%, Bailey/Burdi/Rutherford 9%, Adolfo 5.3%, Dalquist 4.9%, Lambert 4.1%, González 1%, Rodriguez 0%)

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What grade does Jimmy Cordero deserve for his busy 2020 season?
Jimmy Cordero began his career with the Washington Nationals in 2018. He made his way over to the Toronto Blue Jays in 2019 but was traded to the Chicago White Sox in the same season. He has now played with the White Sox longer than any other team in only two years but he is starting to become well known.

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He hasn’t been as good as he would have liked but a lot of it doesn’t feel like his fault. Rick Renteria overused him so bad in 2020 and it looked like it affected his numbers.

The Chicago White Sox, along with all of Major League Baseball, were forced to play a short 60-game season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Out of those 60 games, Renteria used Cordero in 30 of them. It was a remarkable amount of games to use one reliever. It makes even less sense when you consider his numbers and some of the other names in the White Sox bullpen.

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His numbers were probably skewed the wrong way because of his usage but at the end of the day, his 6.08 ERA and 1.575 WHIP are awful numbers. He had a -0.9 WAR but the team still decided to give him 26.2 innings over 30 games. They were a playoff team and one of the best teams in the American League so they get somewhat of a pass but they can’t be doing that next season.

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CHICAGO — Right-handed reliever Evan Marshall and the White Sox avoided arbitration by agreeing on a one-year, $2 million contract.

The White Sox announced the deal on Thursday, one day after agreeing on a one-year, $1.375 million deal with outfielder Adam Engel to also avoid arbitration.

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Marshall, 30, finished 2-1 with a 2.38 ERA in the abbreviated 2020 season during the White Sox first playoff appearance since 2008 and their first winning season since 2012. Marshall recorded eight holds, 30 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings and a 1.06 WHIP over 23 relief appearances, marking his second season with the White Sox. He averaged a career-best 11.91 strikeouts per nine innings and limited opponents to a .198 batting average (17-for-86), including a .119 mark (5-for-42) vs. left-handers.

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Originally signed by the White Sox as a free agent on Oct. 30, 2018, Marshall has a 6-3 record with a 2.45 ERA over 73 1/3 innings and 78 appearances over his last two seasons. Marshall was one of nine White Sox pitchers who took the mound in the deciding third game of the American League Wild Card Series loss to the A’s, hurling two innings and throwing a season-high 45 pitches.

Staff ace Lucas Giolito and fellow right-handed pitcher Reynaldo López represent the only two arbitration-eligible players remaining on the White Sox. Marshall will play an important role once again in a bullpen featuring Aaron Bummer, Garrett Crochet, Codi Heuer, Matt Foster, Jace Fry, Jimmy Cordero and an expected veteran addition or two, potentially at closer.

2020 grade: C-
Cordero’s numbers are bad that he deserves a D for this season but he gets bumped up to a C- because of his usage. He probably could be an effective reliever if he is used the right way over the course of a full season.

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2021 outlook:
The Chicago White Sox are certainly going to have him back next year so they need to figure out a plan for him. There is no way that he needs to be playing in half of the games under any circumstances. There are some great arms in this bullpen around him and they might not even be done adding.

HOT: James McCann says goodbye to the Chicago White Sox online
2021 will be a big year for Cordero because he should (hopefully) be given a humane amount of innings and be put in a better position to succeed. If he does that and still has the WAR and ERA that he had in 2020 they might cut ties with him. Hopefully, it works out for him because that would also be great for the team.

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CHICAGO — Dylan Cease provided a very real and honest perspective when asked about his 2020 season. Real and honest, but with great hope for the immediate future.

“I consider it to be bad,” Cease said. “I competed so there’s that. But yeah, I wasn’t happy with it. … Last season was pretty disappointing for me, but I’m not going into 2021 with a negative attitude by any means. I’m looking forward to it.”

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Cease, who slotted in third or fourth after Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel, finished 5-4 with a 4.01 ERA over 12 starts and 58 1/3 innings in 2020. It was the 24-year-old’s second season in the Majors, but he has yet to make a full season’s worth of starts, with just 26 combined.

So, there’s nothing but development ahead for the right-hander whose 97.5 mph average four-seamer velocity ranked him fifth highest in 2020, per Statcast. Cease already has begun work with new pitching coach Ethan Katz, starting with a 40-minute talk during the first week Katz was hired.

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They believe a great deal of Cease’s struggles were related to his lower half.

“Just pretty much not utilizing it correctly,” Cease said. “If you are not using your lower half correctly, everything else is going to be off.”

“We’ve all seen the flashes of what his stuff is capable of doing when it’s all aligned,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said. “And quite frankly, I’m excited to see him after a period of time working with Ethan Katz and seeing where that leads us.”

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Before the 2020 season even started, it seemed the White Sox would go as far as the starting pitching behind the reliable 1-2 punch of Lucas Giolito and Dallas Keuchel would allow them to.

And that’s exactly how things played out, the White Sox ousted from the playoffs in three games without a third starting-pitching option to depend on.

The front office has already done significant work to solve that problem ahead of a 2021 campaign with World Series aspirations, trading for Lance Lynn, about as dependable a veteran arm as you’ll find in the game. But again, the difference between a strong top three and a championship-caliber rotation will rest on what the arms behind those three can deliver.

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RELATED: Ethan Katz: Garrett Crochet will be big part of Sox in 2021

That’s where new pitching coach Ethan Katz comes in. His main objective in his first year as a major league pitching coach? Taking some of the White Sox young arms from unproven to guys new manager Tony La Russa can confidently call on for starts in the postseason.

Though Katz has multiple pupils, including Michael Kopech and Reynaldo López, perhaps no one will be under a bigger microscope in 2021 than Dylan Cease.

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Cease shouldn’t be expected to be a finished product at this point. He doesn’t even have a full season’s worth of big league starts on his resume, with just 26 of them over the past two years. But Cease’s 2020 campaign was marked by struggles. He kept his ERA down — finishing with a 4.01 mark that was a vast improvement from the 5.79 number he finished with in 2019 — but spent the entire year getting into too many jams, issuing too many walks and giving up too many home runs.

Those are the problems Katz needs to solve if the White Sox big three in the rotation is going to turn into a big four.

Well, Katz and Cease have already started working toward accomplishing just that.

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“He’s working extremely diligently right now. Our communication right now, we’re going back and forth almost every day or every other day. He’s working, he’s putting in the work to put himself in that position. … I think he’s very close,” Katz told Our Chuck Garfien on the White Sox Talk Podcast. “I have a lot of things, but I also know I don’t want to (be) like, ‘Bam, here’s everything,’ and I lose him. So we’re kind of working on that delivery right now as the main focus to be able to propel his stuff and be consistent, and that right now is our main focus.

“As he continues to get better and better and he feels good about it, we’ll add on another layer and another layer and another layer, and it’s just going to keep going and going.

“When we see a product where everyone’s going to be like, ‘That’s the guy we’ve been looking for,’ I don’t have an answer. But I’m going to strive to make that happen right away.”

If Katz can do that, if Cease can match his tantalizing stuff with consistent on-field success, then the White Sox rotation would take another huge step toward being championship caliber, making the team’s World Series hopes for 2021 all the more realistic.

• What’s next for White Sox? Hahn: ‘We’ll see’

Doing drills with the core velocity belt, a tool adeptly employed by Giolito, is just one of the changes that Cease and Katz have discussed.

“Ethan is very analytical and up to date with all the new technology,” said Cease, who also praised the work done with Don Cooper, the previous White Sox pitching coach since 2002. “He’s got a lot of ideas and he’s got a track record. Those two things right there make it very exciting.

“He sent me video. As soon as I get core velocity, I’ll be FaceTiming him. There’s a pretty good chance I’m going to go out to him at some point this offseason so he can be a little more hands on and I can work with him in person.”

Fastball command became Cease’s biggest issue in 2020, as he ranked second in the Majors with 34 walks against 44 strikeouts, and he had an especially rough finish to the season by allowing 14 earned runs on 19 hits and 16 walks over 22 1/3 innings in five September starts. Cease had a particularly strange outing on Sept. 20 in Cincinnati, in that he didn’t allow a hit and struck out five over three-plus innings and 80 pitches, but he also walked seven, hit a batter and yielded three earned runs in a 7-3 loss.

It was the sort of finish erasing Cease from the possibility of a Game 3 start in the American League Wild Card Series in Oakland.

“At the end of the day, if you don’t know where the ball is going, it’s not a great feeling,” Cease said. “So, in those moments, I’m just competing and trying to focus and do the best I can.

“You have to be realistic. I can’t have a start like those and just be happy and pleased with it. I know I have to execute my pitches and I have to find a way to do that. I try to take that objective view of it. Just really try to figure out what I have to do to improve. I’m excited to work with Ethan and figure out some solutions.”

The acquisition of Lance Lynn takes pressure off young starters such as Cease, Michael Kopech and even Reynaldo López. Cease certainly has the stuff to excel, but he’ll be working to find the execution to optimize his mound work.

“The kid’s got a great arsenal,” Hahn said. “If we were so inclined to put him out there, he’d be a very popular trade target because the industry sees very similar to what we see. We look forward to him developing as a White Sox here over the coming months and years.”

“This offseason is really important for me. Like I said, I’m not super thrilled with last year’s performance so I plan on putting in work,” Cease said. “Really, it comes down to just executing and being able to throw my pitches for strikes. I’ve got the pitches. I’ve got the stuff. Now, it’s just molding it and using it.”

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The better case for Hendriks is what he can do for the bullpen’s big picture in high leverage situations. Both the White Sox (32-0) and A’s (24-0) were undefeated with ninth-inning leads in 2020. Hell, the Indians were in between them at 28-0, but that didn’t stop them from releasing Brad Hand, rather than paying their closer a previously reasonable net amount of $9 million for his option (he was in line for a $10 million salary, but Cleveland had to pay his $1 million buyout).

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The separation comes innings earlier:

Leading after White Sox Indians Athletics
Seventh 27-3 28-2 25-0
Eighth 30-2 28-2 24-0
Ninth 32-0 28-0 24-0
Perhaps the White Sox could promote Codi Heuer to the closer role, and he could be just as successful as a more proven option for a fraction of the price. Were that to happen, I wouldn’t question whether Heuer has the mettle for the last three outs, but whether the Sox have the depth to compensate for his absence in earlier innings.

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And they might! When healthy, Aaron Bummer and Garrett Crochet are as tough as it gets from the left side, and it’d be hard to ask for more from Evan Marshall the last two years, or Matt Foster in his rookie season. If Tyler Johnson or Zack Burdi can finish the development on their sliders at the highest level, depth shouldn’t be a problem. It’d be nice to add a right-hander with a track record, but he wouldn’t necessarily have to come at Hendriks’ cost.

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Health just happens to be a sizable caveat. Four of those six players spent time on the injured list the last two years, and Game 3 of the wild card series pivoted toward disaster on Crochet departing with forearm issues. That adds a little more urgency to the idea of reinforcing the bullpen.

So what about cost? Again, Hendriks seems like overkill at a four-year commitment, but here’s where Hahn’s ugly free agent track record looms over the proceedings. In each of the last two winters, Hahn has tried to introduce one of those proven righties to add bulk to Rick Renteria’s medium- and high-leverage options, and both were disasters. Kelvin Herrera came to the White Sox on a two-year, $18 million deal after the 2018 season. He posted a 6.54 ERA over his White Sox career, which ended early in the 2020 season when every appearance only made him come closer to his vesting option.

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The White Sox made a similar, less costly move in signing Steve Cishek for one year and $6 million, but he too was designated for assignment before the end of his contract after delivering the exact opposite of his profile.

The Sox’s issues with the bullpen are the same as the rest of the roster, in that they struggle solving problems with free agents unless they spend a problem-solving amount of money on free agents. Hendriks would require that kind of investment, which at least gives increased assurance that he’d give the White Sox something over his time on the South Side.

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I still don’t think Hendriks is necessary, at least at the expense of upgrades at DH or starter depth. The White Sox aren’t a year away from contending, but they are a year away from being rock-solid in their projectability, so I’d rather see those kind of resources directed to their most acute pain points. Lynn is great because he addresses the issues with rotation depth and innings. Adam Eaton doesn’t quite do the same for right field, or their issues hitting right-handed pitching, due to his injury history.

If the White Sox’s problem-solving money is limited, I’d rather use it to solve the active problems, rather than speculative sore spots. Just like clutch-hitting woes can be offset by increasing the number of scoring chances, any potential issues stemming from the lack of a name-brand closer can be first softened by generating more leads, then revisited at the trade deadline.

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It’s been a long, slow ascent for Burdi after his post-surgery velocity tanked into the low-90s (he had TJ in 2017). Once parked in the 97-102 range, he was living 90-92 early on in the 2018 Fall League and was shut down with fatigue. In 2019, he was back in the 94-97 range, topping out at 99, then sat 96-99 and touched 100 during his 2020 big league debut. Burdi was knocked around in a limited major league jaunt and his velocity slowly declined (though always remained good) during that stretch. Just based on his — and perhaps unfairly, his brother’s — injury history, I think the industry will always value Burdi a little lower than his talent, which is that of a late-inning reliever.

It’s odd and perhaps a bit of a yellow flag that he was hit so hard in 2020, but I’m still betting on the combination of velocity and two good secondary pitches and project Burdi as a third bullpen banana. His slider is short and cuttery but it’s really hard, in the 88-92 mph range, and it has biting two-plane movement when it’s located right. His low-90s changeup also has bat-missing tail. All three pitches are capable of missing bats, Burdi just needs to execute more consistently. During his big league action this year, I noticed he’d alter his position on the rubber depending on the handedness of the opposing hitter. I don’t know how long Burdi has been doing that or if it’s a thing he’s yet comfortable with, so perhaps he experienced a learning/feel curve in 2020. (Alternate site, MLB)

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The Chicago White Sox are in great shape with Aaron Bummer going forward.
Aaron Bummer is, when you think about it, one of the best players on the entire Chicago White Sox roster. He is a very good pitcher that has only gotten better as his career has gone along here. He made his debut with the White Sox as a 23-year-old in 2017. Here in 2020, he is 27 and probably the best relief pitcher on the team. He can be one of those relief pitchers that you use in all situations which makes him even more valuable.

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His issue in 2020 was an injury. In the few games he got in he was amazing. He appeared in nine games where he had 9.1 innings pitched. It is not a great sample size at all but he did have a 0.96 ERA and a 1.071 WHIP. He had a remarkable 14 strikeouts in those 9.1 innings which is a very good number. He wasn’t credited with a save at any point but he did earn a win to have a 1-0 record. The fact that his WAR was 0.3 says a lot about how good he is when he is in there.

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The biceps strain injury had Bummer on the 45-day IL. It was an injury that hindered his season in terms of games played but he was awesome when he was in. It is something that we have to hope doesn’t happen regularly because the White Sox bullpen is that much better when he is involved.

Final Grade: C
Bummer gets a C and that is probably fair in the eyes of most people. It isn’t an A because he barely played and it isn’t anything lower because he was so good when he did play. If he would have played all year long, he might have probably been in the A to A+ range based on his pace.

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2021 Outlook:
You can expect more of the same if Bummer is healthy in 2021. He is going to be in his age-27 season so there is a whole lot left in the tank. We don’t know if Alex Colome is going to be back to be the closer but if he is not, Bummer might assume that role. He is also the perfect setup man or long reliever if the White Sox need a few outs. No matter what, he is going to be in the bullpen for the Sox and making an impact in a good amount of games. If they make the playoffs, he is going to be one of the biggest keys to success.

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The Chicago White Sox saw Codi Heuer have a fantastic rookie season in 2020.
Codi Heuer attended Wichita State University before he was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the sixth round of the 2018 MLB Draft. Now, at 24 years old, he already has his MLB debut behind him which went very well for him. He was so good in his first year with the White Sox and they now believe he is a big part of their future. Hopefully, he can learn from what went well in 2020 and advance himself even further in 2021.

Heuer had to make his debut during the 2020 60-game season that existed because of COVID-19. He probably didn’t anticipate doing that in an empty building with no fans but it is better than nothing. He managed to get into 21 games with 23.2 innings pitched. It was a great start for him to get his feet wet in the league.

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In those 21 games, he threw 25 strikeouts and had a WAR of 0.8. He accumulated a record of 3-0 and had one save throughout the season. His ERA was 1.52 and his WHIP was 0.887 which are both phenomenal. It wasn’t the biggest sample size in the world but it was certainly enough for people to be excited about his future.

2020 grade: A
The Chicago White Sox didn’t expect Heuer to be this good. He exceeded any expectations that you should have for a young pitcher going into his first season. His numbers were off the charts good and he showed no signs of slowing down in the regular season. He has great stuff and it should continue for many years.

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2021 outlook:
The Chicago White Sox are hoping to have a very good bullpen in 2021. We don’t know what the closer situation is going to be but there are a few options. They might bring back Alex Colome, add a guy like Liam Hendriks, or promote someone from within. They will also have great pitchers like Evan Marshall, Jace Fry, and Aaron Bummer to lead the way.

With all of that talent around, Codi Heuer should be able to succeed again. If he is able to put up similar numbers in 2021, this bullpen is going to be scary good. We expect the offense to score a lot of runs so if the pitching can keep up they will be a World Series contender. Heuer is going to be a big piece of that puzzle.