Sox bullpen flourishing as Myers acclimates to new role, team


Sox bullpen flourishing as Myers acclimates to new role, team

Brett Myers has only thrown 4 23 innings since joining the White Sox two weeks ago, but players and coaches have seen his impact extend beyond what he's done on the field. Since he moved from Houston to Chicago, White Sox relievers entered Saturday's game with a 1.19 ERA in their last 30 13 innings, and Myers has been a big part of that -- even if he's only appeared in six games.

"Another veteran in the bullpen is just more knowledge down there for us to pick their brains," rookie Nate Jones said. "He's been in the league for over 10 years. That does nothing but help us. He's already come and talk to me and Addison Reed and Leyson Septimo about certain situations, certain pitches and stuff. That does nothing but help."

Kenny Williams said he owed it to the White Sox to add another veteran to the team's bullpen, which had grown exceedingly young as the season wore on. But Myers has also given manager Robin Ventura more flexibility in how he dispatches his relievers, whether it's in the seventh, eighth or ninth inning.

"You're not always having to use Crain -- him and Crain will be the same two guys that you can use in the same situations," Ventura said, adding that he'd turn to Myers to close if Reed needs a day off. "You don't have to overuse somebody."

Myers had only pitched as a closer in his two seasons pitching in relief before coming to the White Sox. But the 11-year veteran says he isn't concerned with when he's pitching.

"I've still gotta get people out. It doesn't matter," Myers said. "The only thing different is, as a closer you get saves behind your name, as a setup guy you get holds. It's not really a big deal. I've still gotta go out there and throw a scoreless inning to help us win a ballgame."

There is a monetary payoff for Myers, though, to closing. If he finishes 45 games, a 10 million club option vests for 2013. With about two months left in the season, Myers has finished 31 games.

But Myers' role has been as a setup man. And with him in that spot, everyone else in the bullpen has had more concrete duties.

"Since he's came over, it seems like him, Jesse and Matt control the later innings before we give it to Addison," Jones said. "That does nothing but helps us out in the pen, too, because everybody knows their role, like when they need to get ready, situations and whatnot."

When Hector Santiago was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte to make room for Francisco Liriano, it gave the White Sox an even number of rookies and veterans in their bullpen. But while getting used to the team, Myers, whose locker is closer to those of Jones, Reed and Septimo than Crain and Thornton, has spent more time with the rookies.

"Actually, I've been hanging around the younger guys to help me get acclimated," Myers said. "Veterans have their routines, I have my routine, but it's their bullpen. I just came over to try to help."

Is Bears “D” in “football shape?” Lacking ability to finish? Fourth-quarter fades raise questions

USA Today

Is Bears “D” in “football shape?” Lacking ability to finish? Fourth-quarter fades raise questions

During the critical fourth-quarter Oakland Raiders drive for a game-winning touchdown, one former Pro Bowl’er and NFL observer remarked to this writer that he was surprised to see a lot of hands on hips and mouth-breathing by members of the Bears defense – two common signs of being gassed.

Critiquing conditioning – or lack of – is problematic the way judging pain tolerance is. And if the Raiders score were an isolated incident, the question likely doesn’t come up.

But something is amiss. While the Bears defense remains among the NFL’s best, at least statistically, a shadow of concern is falling over the defense and its ability to close out games that it has within its reach.

The Bears held fourth-quarter leads over Denver and Oakland and allowed go-ahead touchdowns. They were rescued by Eddy Piñeiro’s 53-yard field goal in the final second. No such rescue in London.

Fully half of the eight touchdowns scored by Bears opponents in 2019 have come in fourth quarters. (The Bears themselves have not scored a single TD in any fourth quarter this season, but that’s a separate discussion.) By contrast, last season the defense did not allow a fourth-quarter touchdown in any of the final five regular-season games.

The temptation is to look only at the numbers, which are in fact positive. Even with the 24 points the Raiders scored against them in London, the Bears ranked second only to New England in scoring stinginess (13.8 ppg.) and fifth in yardage allowed (312 ypg.).

But the Bears have 17 sacks as a team; only three of those have come in fourth quarters.

Opposing quarterbacks have passed at an 81.3 rating in first halves; they are throwing at a 91.4 clip in second halves.

The defense has allowed 16 first downs in first quarters; 21 in seconds; 20 in thirds.

In 2019 fourth quarters, 34 first downs allowed.

Pulling the camera back for a wider view, extending back to include the disturbing 2018 playoff loss:

Vs. Philadelphia
Eagles drive 60 yards in 12 plays and nearly 4 minutes to score game-winning TD with :56 remaining. Cody Parkey’s double-doink overshadows fact that Bears defense forces Eagles into only two third downs and allows winning score on a fourth down.

Vs. Green Bay
With the Chicago offense sputtering all game and in need of a short field, Packers go on a 10-play, 73-yard drive that consumed 6:33 to set up a field goal to go up 10-3 deep in the fourth quarter.

At Denver
Inept Broncos offense scores 11 points in the fourth quarter to overcome a 13-3 Bears lead, driving 62 yards in 12 plays, converting two fourth downs and a two-point conversion. Denver’s second-half drives: 41 yards, 56 yards, 84 yards, 62 yards.

Vs. Washington
Bears build 28-0 lead before one of NFL’s worst offenses scores a pair of largely meaningless second-half TD’s.

Vs. Minnesota Vikings
Drive 92 yards in 13 plays for TD before Bears stiffen to stop two-point PAT and next Minnesota possession.

Vs. Oakland (London)
Raiders win game with 92-yard drive that includes fourth-down conversion on punt fake run despite Bears leaving No. 1 defensive unit in, anticipating fake.

The long-awaited debut of the Bulls starting lineup, rusty Wendell Carter Jr. and all

The long-awaited debut of the Bulls starting lineup, rusty Wendell Carter Jr. and all

After getting a look at each point guard in the starting lineup this preseason, Jim Boylen finally got a look at what appears to be his starting lineup for Opening Night. 

Tomas Satoransky started as the point next to Zach LaVine, Otto Porter Jr., Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter Jr. That group was down 10-7 when Carter subbed out at the 8:36 mark but looked better in later stints in the game. 

Carter was noticeably slow on his first step on his defense, specifically on plays where Raptors center Chris Boucher was able to use his speed and length advantage to finish at the rim. But he was solid on the glass, even chipping in on the offensive rebounding side of things, grabbing 3 offensive boards in the first half alone. 

Carter was clearly re-adjusting to the speed of NBA basketball and as play-by-play broadcaster Stacey King noted during the game, he "just doesn't have his legs underneath him." He was 1-6 from the floor, struggling to get lift as he went up for putback layups around the basket. 

That being said, he was decent, more so on the defensive side of the floor where he became more active as the game wore on.

In his 16-minutes stint, Carter posted 10 points, 7 rebounds, an assist and a block, while picking up 3 personal fouls. 

Outside of Carter's return stint, the Bulls new-look starting group looked solid and offers hope as we approach the start of the NBA regular season.