Closer Liam Hendriks gave his customary yell and fist-pump after striking out Tigers outfielder Daz Cameron to secure a 5-4 win for the White Sox this weekend. It was his 15th straight scoreless outing, and baseball writers took notice.
On Monday, Major League Baseball announced that Hendriks had won reliever of the month for September/October. He’d gone eight-for-eight in save opportunities and allowed just six hits since Sept. 1. In 13 2/3 scoreless innings over the month and change, Hendriks didn’t issue a walk.
“My theory on it is if you (as a hitter) are a Hall of Famer or having an All-Star class season,” Hendriks said to a pair of reporters this weekend, “you are going to be right around the .300 (batting) average level. That means 7 out of 10 times, you are going to get out. So, why would I give you an extra chance of putting you on base. Why can’t I run the risk of 3-2 or whatever the count, throw a strike and see what they can do with it. The odds are in my favor you are going to get out.”
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Far more important than the monthly award, for Hendriks and the White Sox, is what it represents: A strong finish. The All-Star closer enters the playoffs looking as consistent as he has all season.
In his first year with the White Sox, Hendriks became the first pitcher in franchise history with 30-plus saves and 100-plus strikeouts in a season. He is also the second pitcher in MLB history, joining the Dodger’s Kenley Jansen (2017), to hit both those marks while issuing seven walks or fewer. Hendriks led the American League with 38 saves this season.