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White Sox bullpen down to deck chairs

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Repeat debacles in Minnesota series highlight exhaustion of minimal depth

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After Sunday's bullpen massacre at the hands of the Minnesota Twins, the White Sox optioned Taylor Thompson to Charlotte with a corresponding move coming today. Thompson paid the price for the sins of many, but then again, he shouldn't have been in the mix in the first place.

It's valuable that White Sox fans got a look at Thompson, because he's a pretty good physical embodiment of What The White Sox Have Left.

The Sox have already churned through six different options not included in their first draft of their bullpen (although you could try to determine a seventh if you consider Mitchell Boggs part of the original plan):

  • Thompson
  • Zach Putnam
  • Javy Guerra
  • Eric Surkamp
  • Frank Francisco
  • Andre Rienzo

Thompson was the Sox' most recent attempt at lightning in a bottle, and he earned his promotion more through numbers than through scouting. He put together a nice season at Charlotte, but he remained the last resort (until today, maybe) because his sinker-slider-splitter combo didn't look strong enough to handle big-league hitting.

It took five games for MLB hitters to push him back down to Charlotte. The disparity is rather striking:

Year Tm W L ERA G IP H HR BB SO
2014 Charlotte 2 0 2.61 31 48.1 39 3 24 53
2014 Chicago 0 0
10.13 5 5.1 9 1 4 4

That's what "Anybody but Ronald Belisario" looks like at this point -- worse than Ronald Belisario, in all likelihood. "He has to be better than ...?" This season proves pretty clearly that "he" doesn't have to be anything. A bullpen allows 22 runs over nine innings in a three-game series because nobody's an automatic upgrade, at least until Putnam and Matt Lindstrom come back.

Seth Lakso points to one potential replacement for Thompson:

Maikel Cleto was the first reliever to lose his job due to ineffectiveness this season, so the Sox are now airing reruns. Maybe he'll work out better this time, but he earned the job in spring training thanks to a stretch of surprisingly good command, and it didn't last.

Alas, this is where the Sox find themselves, thanks to a combination of bad luck, poor evaluation and nonlinear development. Unless Scott Snodgress finds relief to his liking immediately at Charlotte, or until the Sox make some desperation waiver grabs, we've seen just about every bullpen move the Sox can make, and it's only early August. When rosters expand on Sept. 1, the Sox might not see the point.