Wednesday, June 22, 2005

South Side speedball

Mark Buehrle pitched another gem today, this one coming in at a tad over two hours: 2:04 to be exact. He's establishing himself as the front-runner for the AL Cy Young by doing what he's always done: working quickly and efficiently. While his K:BB ratio is stellar (73:17 after today's game), the best indicator of his efficiency, and his value to the White Sox, is his major league leading 7.7 innings pitched per start. Add Jon Garland's 7.1 IP/start and Freddy Garcia's 6.9 IP/start (3rd and 8th in the AL, respectively), and get a good idea of why the White Sox bullpen has pitched so well. A rested bullpen is a happy bullpen is a good bullpen.

Of course, not every member of the Sox pen has pitched well; both Shingo Takatsu and Luis Vizcaino have struggled mightily this year. Manager Ozzie Guillen took a good step toward rehabilitating Takatsu today, allowing him to finish off the 9th inning. Mr. Zero responded well, retiring the side in order and striking out two, which undoubtedly set off gongs around the Cell. In his past 6 outings, Takatsu has only given up 1 run, struck out 8, and walked only 2. It's looking like Shingo is regaining his confidence after his horrendous start to the season. If Takatsu does return to form, credit is due to Guillen. Instead of humiliating his former closer, he professed continued confidence in him, and has slowly brought him along in higher and higher leverage situations. Tatkatsu may not need to close for the White Sox again, but if he starts thinking like a closer, he'll give the team yet another valuable setup man. Given that Dustin Hermanson, Cliff Politte, and Neal Cotts are all greatly exceeding expectations, it is vital that Takatsu improves to lessen the impact of any potential drop-offs from those pitchers. This team is looking more difficult to write off with each passing win.

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