ANAHEIM -- The Chicago White Sox have a bullpen, and in that bullpen they have relief pitchers, just like any other baseball team. Trust us. Or are you going to believe your eyes? Just because they haven't been seen during this American League Championship Series, it doesn't mean they aren't out there, ready to serve if needed. That is becoming a bigger "if" with every passing gem by a Chicago starter.More
"I've got no problem with this at all," said Bobby Jenks, the White Sox closer who hasn't been closing anything but the bullpen gate behind himself after he enters. "If you don't see us, it just means the starters are doing a great job," Jenks added. They are certainly doing a great job of turning back the clock. Jose Contreras, Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland have become the first trio of starters to consecutively go eight-plus innings in a Championship Series since the Pirates did it in 1992. "We were just sitting out there talking about this," said Dustin Hermanson, who closed himself until becoming Jenks' setup man in the second half of the season. "When's the last time there were two complete games in any postseason series, never mind back-to-back?" And the answer is ... before Buehrle and Garland, the ALCS hadn't seen back-to-back complete games since the Angels themselves did it in 1982, with Tommy John and Bruce Kison against Milwaukee. Chicago's three starters have secured 79 of 81 outs in a Series the White Sox lead, 2-1, following Garland's 5-2 performance in Friday night's Game 3. "Cotts is the workhorse of our bullpen," said Cliff Politte while motioning to the guy in the adjacent locker, Neal Cotts, who got the final two outs of Game 1 in relief of Contreras. Jenks, Hermanson, Politte and their comrades in well-rested-arms conceded some restlessness. While pitching staffs typically are gassed by this time of the baseball calendar, the Chicago bullpen is uncommonly rested. Even the Division Series sweep over Boston was relatively stress-free. But along with the luxury of just kicking back and having little to do during games but spit sunflower seeds comes a bit of anxiety, as well as concern for how ready they'll be when finally called on. "It's definitely hard to stay sharp when you get too much rest," Hermanson said, "but how can you complain about it? What they're doing is pretty amazing. Not much you can do about it."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less