By Matt Spiegel–
Despite what the early results have been, the fact remains that the White Sox bullpen is an embarrassment of riches. The four at the back end (Matt Thornton, Chris Sale, Jesse Crain, and Sergio Santos) are celebrated, and rightly so. And with the addition of Will Ohman, Ozzie has the rare flexibility of 3 lefties, giving him options. But that flexibility can lead to decisions made from temptation, decisions that are not necessarily the best ones.
How many teams have three lefties in the pen? 4 of the 14 American League pens have three LHP: Chicago, Detroit, Oakland, & Texas. The fact that 2 of those are in the AL Central, home of the lefty-heavy Twins, is no coincidence. Most teams have 2 lefties, four teams have just one (Balt, Bos, NYY, & LAA), while the Mariners start the year with zero.
When you have that 3rd guy, he’s usually used to do nothing more than get one batter out here or there. That’s the proper use of Will Ohman; he’s a lefty one out guy. He’s a “loogy.”
On Sunday, trailing a game by one run in the 7th inning, Ozzie had Ohman face 5 batters, 3 of them lefties. Jack Hannahan (L), Lou Marson (R), Michale Brantley (L), Asdrubal Cabrera (S), and Shin-Soo Choo is a lefty. 5 batters faced , because three of them are lefthanded.
You can’t allow handedness to let you over-use a mediocre asset.
In a one run game, it should have been Santos, or even Tony Pena if Santos needed a day off after 1.2 IP Saturday, over Ohman. Ohman should not be used if the thinking is more than one or two batters. If Pena or Santos then gets in trouble, and Ozzie wants to bring Ohman in to get Choo later in the inning, well that’s perfect.
Overall, it’s silly for Sox fans to get frustrated at Ohman or Philip Humber, who are the 10th and 11th best pitchers on your roster. Now, frustration at the manager’s choice for using a “loogy” for an entire inning of a one run game? We have to hope this doesn’t become a trend.