- Editor's Note: "Setting expectations for the White Sox southpaws in 2023" originally appeared on Sox on 35th. You can read more of their coverage at SoxOn35th.com, and follow them on Twitter at @SoxOn35th.
Entering the 2022-23 offseason, the Chicago White Sox bullpen was generally deemed a position group of strength. The group was projected to be headlined by a dominant All-Star closer in Liam Hendriks, a breakthrough piece in Reynaldo Lopez, a reliable veteran setup man in Kendall Graveman, a bounce-back candidate in Joe Kelly and several other intriguing pieces including fireballer Garrett Crochet returning from his Tommy John Surgery.
However, on Jan. 8th, Liam Hendriks and the Chicago White Sox were delivered a devastating blow when Liam was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Fast forward seven weeks and another blow (though to a much lesser degree) was delivered to the bullpen when MLB.com's Scott Merkin reported that White Sox reliever Aaron Bummer is dealing with ongoing soreness.
While Bummer expects to be ready for Opening Day, this brings me to another thought: White Sox fans should temper their expectations for their southpaws, at least in the first half of 2023. Here's why.
While Bummer's career 3.03 ERA and 2022 2.36 ERA are solid-to-exceptional, he only pitched 26.2 innings last year due to a multitude of injuries. Furthermore, he's logged under 100 innings in the last three years combined and is somewhat prone to IL stints. There is no doubt that when he is healthy, he is lethal, as evident by hitters recording a measly .296 SLG and .606 OPS against him throughout his career.
This latest update on Bummer's health/nagging soreness gives me pause entering the season. I am a firm believer in his talent, fortitude, and stuff, but his inability to stay healthy could develop into a concern in 2023, given both his track record and his current status. It's also tough to stay warm and pitch well in the early parts of the season when temperatures in April-May can dip below 50 degrees. My hope is that this is a moot point come summer, but I would not expect a crisp or fully healthy Aaron Bummer for the early part of the season.
Finish this article on soxon35th.com and learn more about the other southpaws in the White Sox bullpen and what we should expect from them in 2023.
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