But giving up three first-inning runs against the Angels wasn’t the best way to go about making a case to be a starter.
“He’s going to have what he wants,” manager Ozzie Guillen said before the game. “He’s been waiting for this day for a little while.”
Actually, he had a crack at it on Aug. 21 at Kansas City and had some impressive moments in a seven-inning no-decision. He retired the first nine batters he faced in that game, gave up five consecutive hits for four runs and then retired the last 12 he faced.
“He can be a starter because he has a few pitches, he has a changeup, slider and fastball,” Guillen said. “Hopefully he goes out there and does what he’s supposed to do, have fun and pitch good.”
The odd thing about Pena is that when he knows he has to give the team innings, he is able to extend himself. He struggles when he’s in close games and needs to get things to the back end of the bullpen.
“He throws more strikes; he’s not the junky, funky guy out there,” Guillen said, explaining the difference in Pena. “He just throws more strikes and settles down. But he impressed a lot of people when he [was in] that role. I think Tony’s season has been very underrated. He had a couple of times when we needed to use him and he sucked it up for the team. I think it was a very good season for him.”
Pena, who does not have a deal for next season, is arbitration eligible.