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White Sox bullpen dour rankings: Two failures, one scare

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Signs point to the end of the Scott Downs Era, but Daniel Webb can't be comfortable, either

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Look at it this way -- maybe Wednesday was Ronald Belisario Appreciation Night, and nobody knew about it but the White Sox bullpen.

Every time Belisario struggles to close out a game and invites speculation about a closer switch, other key relievers tep right up and show that Robin Ventura really has no enviable options.

That's awfully nice of them, but it's going to cost at least one of them their jobs, and there's a chance multiple relievers could be removed from the roster -- 25-man or 40-man -- before the Sox open a four-game series in Canada against the Toronto Blue Jays tonight.

No. 1: Scott Downs

What'd he do(ur)? He had ONE JOB -- to retire Chris Davis. He failed on both occasions. The first was a fluky, end-of-the-bat single that went in and out of Gordon Beckham's glove on Tuesday. The second was a walk, and while Davis earned that one with a prolonged battle, it was mostly because Downs' breaking ball couldn't fool him more than once. That's been a common occurrence as of late, because Davis was the 13th baserunner allowed by Downs over his last 6⅓ innings.

He gone? Looks like it.

But finding a lefty to replace him isn't that easy, as this season has gone out of its way to prove. Eric Surkamp is the only qualified, healthy lefty at Charlotte ... and he's allowed a .341 OBP to left-handed hitters this season.

No. 2: Daniel Webb

What'd he do(ur)? Took the loss on Wednesday after walking the leadoff man, allowing a single to put runners on the corners, then starting the third batter with a walk-off wild pitch. The walk was his 15th over his last 15⅓ innings, with 13 hits (and a homer) on top of the free passes.

He gone? I wouldn't be surprised if an option to Charlotte is imminent. The absence of any fastball control, much less command, makes it hard for Robin Ventura to use him. He's pitched in just six of the Sox' 22 June games, and he only reached a half-dozen because Wednesday's game went 12 innings. If nobody mentioned Downs' apparent farewells after the game, I'd imagine Webb would be the one on the way down to Charlotte, because he has the least utility of anybody in his current form.

Who knows? Maybe there'll be two moves, because if the Sox DFA Downs, that opens up a 40-man spot for somebody like Taylor Thompson.

No. 3: Javy Guerra

What'd he do(ur)? Allowed a game-tying grand slam to Nelson Cruz in the seventh inning of Wednesday's game, which was more frustrating since he looked quite capable in the opener. You're not allowed to be too enthused about any reliever this season.

He gone? Nope, He's in the safe tier, especially since he bounced back to throw a 1-2-3 ninth. His peripherals are the most promising of the bunch, even if nothin' can't be trusted about nobody.

No. 4: Ronald Belisario

What'd he do(ur)? He blew the save by allowing a walk-off homer to Chris Davis on Monday, and while he recovered on Tuesday to pick up the save, it wasn't an easy one (the run was charged to Downs).

He gone? No, and Robin Ventura's sticking with him as closer for the same reason he started using him in the ninth -- if they're all the same kind of righty, he may as well pick the one least likely to dig a hole with walks.

No. 5: Zach Putnam

What'd he do(ur)? He hung a 2-2 splitter to Caleb Joseph with two outs in the eighth inning of Monday's game, resulting in a solo shot that cut a two-run cushion in half for Belisario. The closer drew the heat for the loss, but Putnam had a hand in it.

He gone? No, because he did his job in Wednesday's game. After Hector Noesi allowed the first two batters to reach, Putnam entered and retired the next two batters without any problems, setting the table for Downs to get a lefty out. That didn't happen, but Putnam's the only one who can feel any sense of accomplishment of the four pitchers used that inning.

No. 6: Jake Petricka

What'd he do(ur)? Nothing. He came close on Tuesday, when he walked the first batter in the eighth, then fell behind Adam Jones 2-0 and 3-1. But he came back to get Jones to ground into a double play, and he came back the next day and threw two scoreless innings to get the game to the 12th. He allowed a hit and a walk, but the latter was intentional.

He gone? Nope. In fact, with 11 appearances over 22 games, Ventura seemingly trusts him more than any of the other setup men, although he's graded on a curve. He's walked six batters over those 12 innings, although you can only credit him for four (two IBBs).

n/a: Andre Rienzo

He hasn't appeared in a game since moving to the bullpen, but with Scott Carroll scheduled to start tonight's game in Toronto, that means Rienzo is back on full rest. I still think he might be able to offer something different than everybody else in the bullpen, but maybe that's just as misguided as this group's fastballs.