For many of you, the offseason acquisition of Joakim Soria may not have seemed as though it would have a significant impact on the Chicago White Sox ability to win. While that may be the case, he does bring the attribute of a trade asset to the team. The 34-year-old reliever is having one of the best seasons of his career, leading the Chicago bullpen along the way.
On May 1st, Soria allowed three hits and two earned runs as he blew a save against the St. Louis Cardinals. Soria’s ERA stood at 4.35 after his poor outing. Since then, he’s appeared in 16 games (allowing an earned run in only three), lowering his ERA to 3.12. Soria is now ten of twelve (83.3%) in save opportunities, since his blown save in St. Louis.
An area where Soria has been remarkable is his K/BB ratio. which is 6 to 1 due to his 30 strikeouts and only five walks. If you want to go a step further, Soria’s K/9 rate is 10.38, not to mention he is only allowing 1.73 free passes every nine frames. All of these are exceptional, but the first exceeds all as very few hurlers will fan six times as many as they walk.
While Soria has stood above his bullpen-mates, the team as a whole has produced. Bruce Rondon has performed well, pitching to a 3.74 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 21.2 innings. Rondon’s WHIP is not exceptional (1.38), however, he has given no reason as to why he cannot be trusted in a key situation.
Another key member of the bullpen is Nate Jones, who just went on the 10-day disabled list with a muscle strain in his forearm. That is very concerning, especially when you consider Jones’ history of long stints on the disabled list. It’s conceivable he could end up missing a substantial amount of time, so don’t pay attention to the “10-day” aspect of it.
Jones has pitched well, for the most part, however, there has been a pair of times when he struggled to retire hitters. If you remove the two outings where he allowed four earned runs each, Jones has only given up three runs in 23 innings (11 earned runs in 24.2 IP for 2018). That is astounding, however it did occur meaning there is no way to avoid the fact that Jones can melt down from time to time. But what reliever doesn’t?
It is also crucial to delve into the seasons of Jace Fry and Luis Avilan, who have pitched very well in their own right. The latter has a 3.26 ERA with 23 strikeouts (10.71 K/9), however, Avilan’s WHIP is elevated at 1.50. His overall performance has been solid, but Fry has pitched above and beyond what anyone expected of him, especially when he didn’t even begin the season with the big club.
Fry’s most eye-popping statistic would be the number of holds he has, which currently sits at seven in only eighteen appearances (19 IP). Fry’s WHIP is excellent (0.95) with 22 strikeouts (11.37 K/9) and only eight walks. He has been dependable in late-innings throughout the year, and hopefully will be in the future.
All in all, these pitchers have been success stories in an unsuccessful season. While that doesn’t mean their contributions are useless, especially when all but Soria are under contract through 2019 or later. That last statement could be discussed for hours with July approaching, but it is likely the aforementioned Soria will not be here come August 1st. Could more be headed out of town soon? We will see Sox fans, we will see.