Aaron Bummer back to fill Aaron Bummer-shaped hole in White Sox bullpen

(Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire)

The White Sox made four pitching moves this afternoon as they try to shore up their pitching staff in anticipation of the postseason. They reinstated Aaron Bummer and Carlos Rodón from the 45-day injured list, making room by designating Steve Cishek and Ross Detwiler for assignment.

There’s probably a post to be written about each of these moves — or at least three of the four — so I’ll get to them today and Friday, but Bummer is the headliner. He occupied potentially the most vital role in Rick Renteria’s bullpen on the strength of his breakout 2019, and he had delivered more of the same over his first seven games this season.

They could have very well been his only seven games this season, because he departed the Aug. 7 game against Cleveland with left biceps soreness. Sometimes biceps injuries can suggest a shoulder issue, and while Bummer was shifted to the 45-day injured list, the White Sox said it was due to a nerve issue near his the muscle.

The White Sox had fared better than expected without him, partially because Jace Fry stepped up to reclaim some of his 2018 form, and partially because the White Sox’s righties have arsenals that work against left-handed hitters.

But there were a few games where Renteria couldn’t quite make it work, especially after Fry had to hit the IL with a back issue. Gio González had fumbled a couple of late-inning high-leverage opportunities when Renteria sought a lefty. He walked two of four batters he faced in a setup job against the Twins on Sept. 14, then gave up the walk-off homer on Wednesday.

So Renteria will welcome back Bummer with open arms, even if it’s uncertain how ready Bummer will be after such a long layoff. The good news is there wasn’t any real kind of velocity drop leading up to his injury. Location was the bigger hint of something amiss, as he threw just 16 of 29 pitches for strikes and gave up a couple of line drives. Bummer said he didn’t think much of the injury at the time.

If all goes well, the Sox won’t need Bummer to carry as heavy a load from here on out, not with Garrett Crochet proving dangerous on back-to-back days, and Rodón also providing some assistance from the left side.

A healthy Bummer is so hard to replace because he gets both strikeouts and grounders, which is why he’s his own real replacemeent. I wouldn’t mind seeing him in a high-leverage situation or two before the White Sox run out of regular season. Rust might hamper his ability to resume his results, but given how much he relies on one pitch rather than a mix of multiple, it might be easier for him to get back on track. Should he falter, at least it’d be a productive way to disappoint.

(Photo by John Cordes/Icon Sportswire)

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