Aaron Bummer’s 2021 season has been, for lack of a better word, a bummer, as a lot was expected from the White Sox setup man heading into the year. That said, we can really chalk up his high ERA to just three really poor outings this season (7/16 vs HOU, 6/9 vs TOR, 5/18 vs MIN) that, if you took them away, would give him a 1.50 ERA and 1.23 WHIP over 30 innings of work. It’s not fair to just take away three games and pretend they didn’t happen, but I think it shows that while he may have one blow-up a month, the rest of the month should go relatively smoothly. His latest brutal outing also happened to be the day he came off the IL, and his velocity was down as he hadn’t pitched in a few weeks. I think there are enough positive takeaways in Bummer’s profile to not be worried about him for the last two months of the year so ignore the poor ratios for now and continue to trust his stuff.
- Pete Fairbanks has bounced back from a dreadful June to have one of the best months of July for any reliever in the league. Fairbanks posted an 11/8 K/BB ratio in June while allowing 14 hits in eleven innings but in July, he has allowed just one hit and walked none while striking out ten. He’s become Kevin Cash’s go-to reliever as of late, and with J.P. Feyereisen dealing with a shoulder injury, should continue to see regular high leverage work.
- Gregory Soto for all intents and purposes is the Tigers closer right now, a change I’ll likely make next week, and despite walking a tightrope in a lot of these outings, he’s been able to convert saves successfully. Despite his notorious command issues, Soto has only walked eight batters over his last 23 innings of work, and if it weren’t for a home run allowed to Jose Abreu back on July 4, he’d be in the middle of his most impressive streak to date.
- Anthony Bender has hit his first rough patch at the MLB level, as he’s had some issues over the past two weeks to get hitters out. Over that span (5.1 IP) he’s allowed six earned runs on ten hits (two HR) while walking just one. I appreciate the low walk rate, but let’s make sure we are missing bats and barrels too. Paul Sewald has run into a similar problem, allowing two home runs and four earned runs over his past two innings of work. The home runs will happen, as Sewald does not get a lot of groundballs, but I think both he and Bender will bounce back and be just fine for the rest of the season.
- It must be nice as an organization to trade away someone like J.P. Feyereisen and call up someone like Jake Cousins who gives you the same results, if not better. It’s only been 12.1 innings, but Cousins has an absurd 54.1% CSW while also supporting a 52% GB rate. If he continues to see consistent hold opportunities, he could land in the top ten by the beginning of next month. Another rookie to keep an eye on is David Bednar, the likely candidate to take over for Richard Rodríguez once he is moved. Bednar had some hype entering the season and he’s lived up to it so far, and looks to be the Pirates closer of the future.
- Bryan Shaw continues to impress and has improved on his command issues this month (just three walks) while seemingly securing a secondary setup role behind Emmanuel Clase and James Karinchak. That said, Phil Maton has come on strong here as of late, and certainly has the higher ceiling of the two. Maton picked up a hold last night, and hopefully can carve out a role as a secondary setup option in Cleveland as his swing and miss upside is elite.
- It’s been a rough year for two lefties who I had high expectations for at the beginning of the year. Victor González has been a mess since the new stick stuff rule came to light, and while it’s going to take some pitcher longer than others to adjust, it’s tough to tell just when or even if González will get back to his 2020/early 2021 self. I’m not sure if the stick stuff rules have affected Zack Britton as well, but he’s certainly not right and I’d expect another IL stint soon for him at this point. His sinker averaged 91.8 mph last night, down 3 mph from 2018-2020 and down close to 5 mph from 2015-2017. Plus his 19.7% walk rate is currently a career-high. Something’s not right here still.
Photo by Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (JustParaDesigns on Twitter)