MILWAUKEE -- The struggles of the White Sox rotation is a big factor in the bullpen’s recent troubles, pitching coach Don Cooper said.
The team’s rotation entered Tuesday with the second fewest innings pitched in the majors this season (160 1/3). While the bullpen has been a strong suit most of the season, its top three producers -- David Robertson, Zach Duke and Dan Jennings -- have given up 13 earned runs since Thursday. Cooper sees a direct correlation between a starting staff with the fifth-worst ERA (5.16) in the majors.
“The bullpen has been used and used at a good clip,” Cooper said. “I think that's part of the reason. We're trying to get guys days off and trying to get them gassed up again. I think we're asking a little bit more of them than they should have to be giving right now. The bullpen has been a strength of ours.”
Duke took the loss on Monday when he surrendered three runs on two homers. Robertson blew his first save on Sunday but the White Sox won anyway. Jennings may be the most taxed, having thrown 77 pitches over 2 1/3 innings since Thursday.
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The White Sox have tried to stay away from several pitchers the past few games and hope Chris Sale and Jose Quintana can pitch deep into games this turn through the rotation.
“Those guys have been used a lot, and they’ve also been extended, to where we have to bring them in a little earlier than we would like,” manager Robin Ventura said. “That happens over the course of the year. The year is long, but right now we’re just trying to get them back to where they feel strong and they can compete the way they did at the beginning of the season to where they feel strong when they go out there.”