With about a week left until Opening Day the White Sox bullpen situation is starting to clear up. On Sunday the Sox released Mitchell Boggs, optioned Jake Petricka, and reassigned Dylan Axelrod to minor league camp.
The newest member of the White Sox' bullpen. Credit: Marc Serota, Getty Images
In addition to those moves, General Manager Rick Hahn said that Maikel Cleto (pictured above) would break camp with the team.
Cleto has impressed this spring with a 1.29 ERA, allowing just one run on three hits over seven innings. He has five strikeouts and two walks as well. The Sox picked him up off waivers from the Royals in February and he also appeared in 13 games with the Cardinals between 2011-2013.
The key to his situation is that he's out of options, making the decision even easier for Rick Hahn. Don Cooper has been able to help him out greatly so far, so they may as well give him a shot for the major league club.
With Cleto assured of a spot, the battle for the last bullpen spot is between Daniel Webb, Zach Putnam and David Purcey, though Purcey seems an unlikely choice with two lefties (Downs and Veal) already in the fold.
Putnam has posted a 2.25 ERA in eight innings pitched. He has allowed two runs in eight innings with 10 strikeouts against just one walk.
Webb has allowed two runs in five innings with five strikeouts and no walks. He is on the Sox 40 man roster and is a home grown product but the Sox might go with Putnam, who could fill the long reliever role, and give Webb the chance to work as a closer in Charlotte.
Regardless of the final spot the White Sox bullpen will still have quite a few question marks when the team comes north.
Nate Jones will be in the closer role for the first time and while he certainly has all the physical tools to succeed, sometimes players just don’t take well to closing out games.
Matt Lindstrom has dealt with an oblique issue this spring and has only appeared in one game.
Ronald Belisario was late to camp due to passport issues and has struggled with his command in limited action.
Veteran lefty Scott Downs has been lit up in spring training as well.
While I am not too worried about the veteran players' spring training numbers it is a little unsettling, especially given the rest of Sox 'pen has very little big league experience. The Sox will need someone to step up and grab that 8th inning duties, with Lindstrom and Belisario being the most likely candidates.