Putz or bust: Sox lacking relief options

J.J. Putz looked downright uncomfortable well before exiting the eighth inning early in Thursday’s 11-0 victory over the Minnesota Twins. His fastball barely cracked 90, when it’s usually at least 94.
Fortunately, nothing about his arm was bothering him — it was his right knee:

“When I got out there and really tried to push, I wasn’t able to,” Putz said. “The doctor checked it out and structurally everything felt strong. It’s a little inflammation under the patella. Some anti-inflammatory [medication] should calm it down.
“I don’t think it’s a huge deal. It probably could have been had we not shut it down when we did.”

The Sox need Putz down the stretch, recent struggles and all, because there isn’t much to pick from in Charlotte and below.
Here’s a look at the insurance, or lack thereof.

Erick Threets

Erick Threets
Pros: Even though he didn’t meet his own surprisingly lofty standards, Threets pitched well in his brief time with the big-league club. He’s a lefty, but he showed a knack for getting his fastball in on the thumbs of right-handed hitters. He held them to four hits and no walks in 22 plate appearances.
Cons: Because Threets is lefty, Ozzie Guillen may not be inclined to press his luck in non-matchup situations. The second lefties haven’t seen all that much work this year, so the third lefty might spend more time warming up the left fielder than warming up himself. Also, he’s been a little rusty since returning from “turf toe.”
Carlos Torres
Pros: He has experience both starting and relieving, which would give the Sox the ready-made option for emergency outings they have lacked all year. His presence could also move Tony Pena into the shorter outings, which is all that he knew before this year.
Cons: Offers nothing in the way of dynamic relief, meaning that you’d only see him when you’re ready to turn off the TV. He’s vacillated between dominant and erratic. Also, it’s not a great bet that you’d want to see Pena in higher-leverage work.
Lucas Harrell
Pros: He has a major-league win under his belt, and the Sox are pretty aware of what he can do. He gets grounders.
Cons: He’s walked three or more batters in four of his last five starts. He’d serve the same purpose as Torres, but his minor-league track record is inferior.
(Note: The same can be said for Jeff Marquez, with the exception of the win and the grounders.)
Jhonny Nunez
Pros: He has rediscovered his strikeout stuff since going back to Charlotte as a reliever, with 36 K’s over 36 1/3 innings.
Cons: He hasn’t enjoyed much success when it comes to run prevention, and he’s a major liability against lefties. He didn’t impress Guillen last year, and hasn’t done much to warrant another look.
Clevelan Santeliz
Pros: He has the best strikeout stuff of anybody on Charlotte, with 13 over his last 12 innings since returning from troublesome elbow problems. Opponents are hitting just .150 off him since the All-Star break, and pitches lefties pretty tough.
Cons: Walks and health, health and walks. He has issued 29 of them over 44 2/3 innings this year, and that’s no sudden development. He also gives up more flyballs than any of the other candidates on this list.
Gregory Infante
Pros: The 23-year-old Venezuelan has excelled since undergoing a conversion to relief work. He has struck out 63 batters over 55 1/3 innings across Winston-Salem and Birmingham, maintaining roughly equal peripherals across both levels. He has yet to allow a home run this season. Baseball America gave him a favorable review earlier this month:

3. Gregory Infante, rhp, White Sox (Double-A Birmingham):  With a 94-98 mph fastball, Infante has one of the best pure arms in the organization. His curveball needs to be more consistent—at times it’s a knockout, swing-and-miss pitch in the low-80s, other times he loses the tight rotation and leaves them out as hangers. With 57 strikeouts in 48 2/3 innings between high Class A Winston-Salem and Birmingham, Infante has the stuff to pitch key innings in a big league bullpen once he refines his secondary stuff and tightens his control.

Cons: He’s not quite as wild as Santeliz, but walks are a problem (26 over 55 1/3 innings). The scouting report indicates that he still has some growing to do, so unless Don Cooper sees something, it would be quite a reach. I don’t think he’s ready to make The Bobby Jenks Jump From Birmingham. Also, he’s not on the 40-man roster.
If Putz needed an immediate replacement, I’d probably pick Threets. He excelled in the only high-leverage situation thrust upon him, and deserved more work that Chris Sale took away from him. But this is worth keeping in your back pocket anyway, because even if Putz is fine, we could see one or three of these guys come September.


  • Jim Margalus

    Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

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Really happy its just Putz’s knee that has some inflamation, why do players do that fast walk off the field right after a pitch, it panics the heck out of fans, thought this was peavy case 2.
I would go with Threets, the righties who dont walk guys lack stuff, the righties who have stuff walk too many. Threets should be the guy if Putz is gone for any extended length of time. I think Torres and Harrell also have to keep pitching every 5th day as Freddy is really starting to wear down.


How about Lucas Harrell as our 5th starter instead of Garcia. Freddy’s tank may be empty.


two more bad starts from freddy and its very possible


That Edwin Jackson trade is now looking better and better the more we worry about Freddy Garcia. If the ChiSox need to move to a 4 man rotation, better we have Jackson than Freddy. With all the Kenny and Ozzie bashing about old man Thome, i think some fans have missed the forest for the trees. Teahen is back in the lineup hitting like the lefty extra bases bat in the middle of the line up they need him to be and Jackson looks proud to be in a White Sox uniform. If I would have told you in the beginning of the season Jake Peavy would be done for the season and Bobby Jenks would have closer problems, I am sure the verdict would be ChiSox will be a losing basement dwelling team. I just think this team and its manager and GM don’t get enough credit for their fine work.


No offense, but your also the guy who held last years Sox team as the gold standard for this one…