White Sox designate Maikel Cleto for assignment, replace him with Frank Francisco

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Swapping righties could shore up the last truly troublesome spot in the bullpen

In a move that had been begging to happen over the last fortnight, the White Sox designated Maikel Cleto for assignment, and purchased the contract of Frank Francisco from Charlotte.

Cleto was something of a revelation during spring training, and the combination of his high-octane stuff, improved command and lack of options forced the Sox to carry him on the 25-man roster to start the season. It wasn't long before Cleto's old problems returned. He struggled to find the strike zone for just about the entire season, and when the hits started falling, his problems multiplied.

Games IP H R ER HR BB K BABIP
First 6 6.1 2 0 0 0 4 3 .125
Last 7 7.2 10 10 8 1 11 7 .321

His last appearance on Thursday had the makings of a use-him-and-lose-him game. He survived his first inning, but walked two batters, plunked another and gave up a grand slam in his second, and that sealed his fate. With the rest of the bullpen finding a groove, Cleto stood out in all the wrong ways, unable to gain Robin Ventura's trust in even low-leverage situations.

Enter Francisco, who had basically pitched as well as possible since the White Sox signed him to a minor-league contract on April 14. He posted a 0.00 ERA (one unearned run) over six appearances spanning eight innings, allowing just four hits and a walk while striking out 12. Moreover, of the 14 balls in play against him this season, 11 have stayed on the ground. That's uncharacteristic for him and it's a small sample size, but it's good enough for now.

Barring injuries, this should be the last bullpen move the White Sox will have to make for a while, as everybody else has calmed down. Looking at the numbers over the last two weeks, Daniel Webb needs to tighten up his control, but there's no sign he's in trouble.

G IP H R ER HR BB K ERA
Jake Petricka 6 8.1 1 1 1 0 2 5 1.08
Scott Downs 6 7 4 3 2 0 3 8 2.57
Zach Putnam 5 7.2 1 0 0 0 0 6 0.00
Matt Lindstrom 5 5 3 0 0 0 2 4 0.00
Daniel Webb 5 5 2 0 0 0 5 5 0.00
Ronald Belisario 4 6 2 1 0 0 0 6 0.00
Maikel Cleto 4 5.2 7 7 5 1 7 6 7.94

There's a chance a team could take their chances with Cleto, but he stands a better chance of passing through waivers now than he did at the end of spring training.

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