CHICAGO -- September’s arrival allowed Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura to put more relief pitchers in the bullpen, and he hasn’t allowed them to go to waste.
Over the first 11 games of September, Ventura has used 55 relief pitchers, averaging five a game. He’s used as many as seven pitchers twice and has used five or more in seven games. He’s used as few as three relievers in a game.
In comparison, over the last 11 days of August, Ventura utilized 28 relief pitchers with his high being five, and he did that just once. In six of those 11 games, he either used one or two relief pitchers.
Ventura said it has been different having so many options in September, but it hasn’t been necessarily tougher to manage them.
“I don't know if they're more difficult,” Ventura said prior to Thursday’s game with the Detroit Tigers. “You have your guys that you count on that are still similar in the same innings and things like that. But because you have so many guys, you might use somebody maybe in a more crucial situation in the fifth or sixth than you would wait to get to the seventh or eighth.”
Ventura has certainly been quicker to change pitchers. He has had 33 relievers pitch less than a full inning in September. For example, lefty specialist Donnie Veal has especially gotten more work. He’s made seven appearances in the month and hasn’t pitched to more than one batter each time.
Ventura’s extra exercise to the mound has served up mixed results. The bullpen has allowed 28 runs, 27 earned, in the past 11 games. The team has allowed 55 runs in the month.
In their past two losses to the Tigers, the bullpen allowed six runs. In Tuesday’s 5-3 loss, Ventura used six pitchers, and just one allowed runs, though they were vital runs. Francisco Liriano threw four pitches and allowed two hits, two runs, hit one batter and didn’t get anyone out.
In Wednesday’s 8-6 loss to the Tigers, Ventura turned to six relievers. Four of them allowed runs, and they gave up a total of five runs.
“That’s just part of baseball,” Ventura said of the bullpen’s struggles after Wednesday’s loss. “You got to come in and try to do it. When it works, you win games. When it doesn’t, it becomes harder to win games.
“Relieving is a tough thing to do. It’s right in front of you. If you get the guys out, you did your job. If you don’t, it looks like you didn’t do your job. It’s a tough job.”