Since acquiring Craig Kimbrel from the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline, questions have been constantly asked on what role Kimbrel will have with the team. With Liam Hendriks as the established closer on the team, it becomes a good problem to have if you are the White Sox.
In his 11-year career, Kimbrel has a 2.10 ERA, 998 strikeouts, and a whooping 371 saves. With those types of numbers, Kimbrel is a good bet to make the hall of fame someday. Nonetheless, his struggles when pitching from a set-up role have been well documented.
In the 2019 season, his first season with the Chicago Cubs, Kimbrel had his worst season in various categories, posting an abysmal 6.53 ERA, only 30 strikeouts, and giving up a batting average of .259 to hitters.
In that 2019 season, Kimbrel mainly pitched from the set-up role, which could be a cause for concern to White Sox manager Tony LaRussa. Kimbrel has struggled in the set-up role this season as well since joining the White Sox, giving up two homeruns in recent games against the Cubs and the Yankees.
Another cause for concern, is the recent struggles of closer Liam Hendriks. The Australian born closer has given up 11 homeruns on the year and has blown 6 saves on the year. Although he has 26 saves on the year, he has yet to record one save in the month of August thus far. Of course, that depends entirely on the game situations, but in his recent opportunities he has failed to either get the save or hold the opponent scoreless.
Against the New York Yankees, Hendriks made 2 appearances in which he blew a save, and relinquished the lead twice, giving up a total of 3 home runs. So, it brings up a good question on whether Kimbrel and Hendriks should switch their roles.
Giving up home runs late in games is a big no-no when it comes to postseason baseball, which the White Sox are poised to be a part of for the second straight year.
Since the all-star break the White Sox have a 14-15 record. Switching things up in the bullpen and in their lineup in general could be an effective way to try and turn things around. The bullpen has struggled in the back end lately, and the offense lacks timely situational hitting during this rough stretch.
It certainly is no time to panic as the White Sox sit with a comfortable lead atop the AL Central, and will be getting back starting pitcher Carlos Rodon and catcher Yasmani Grandal in the coming weeks.
Tony La Russa said the exam on Carlos Rodón was encouraging and showed no damage. La Russa said there’s a chance he pitches in Toronto— James Fegan (@JRFegan) August 15, 2021
After dropping 2 of 3 to the Yankees, things won’t get much easier for the White Sox, as they start a 4-game series at home versus the Oakland Athletics tonight. After facing the A’s, the White Sox will go on a 7-game road trip to face the Tampa Bay Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays.