The White Sox have a new closer, and the guy playing the setup role is ecstatic.
"It’s hard not to be excited about bringing in a guy that’s been the best in baseball, in my opinion, over the last two years," White Sox reliever Aaron Bummer said of his new bullpen teammate, Liam Hendriks, who reportedly has a multi-year free-agent deal to come to the South Side. "He’s got the numbers to prove it, he’s got the ability to prove it. Just adding that to the back of the bullpen, it’s the same thing that my goal with Alex (Colomé) was: All we have to do is get the ball to Liam, and we’re going to win the game."
Hendriks' effectiveness in the ninth inning for the Oakland Athletics over the past two seasons has been well documented. He posted a combined 1.79 ERA and saved 39 games in 2019 and 2020.
And the White Sox, of course, don't need a refresher course after he blew away three of the four hitters he faced to knock the South Siders out of the playoffs in Game 3 of the AL Wild Card Series last fall.
In fact, it was what Hendriks displayed in that performance — which came a day after he chucked 49 pitches, an obscene amount for a reliever in today's game, in Game 2 of that series — that really has Bummer excited about the Aussie's arrival on the South Side.
"Honestly, man, that guy’s got balls," Bummer told Our Chuck Garfien on the White Sox Talk Podcast. "Just to see his fire, just watch that. That’s incredible. That’s what I want to do. I want to be able to throw 50 pitches then go do that the next day, and that guy went out there and did it.
"It’s hard not to be excited to be adding a guy with that much fire and that much desire to your bullpen. It’s going to lift everyone, I think."
Indeed, part of the reason the White Sox addition of Hendriks is such a big move — in addition to them employing one of the game's best closers — is that he allows the rest of the bullpen's talented pitchers to remain in the roles they found so much success in last season.
That group includes Bummer, Evan Marshall, Codi Heuer, Matt Foster and rookie Garrett Crochet. None of them need to worry about shouldering closing responsibilities, and the White Sox bullpen remains a strength with that arsenal of arms shortening the game for the starting staff.
"Looking up and down the bullpen, no one’s the same. Everyone has their own arsenal, and everyone has their own ability. At our best, everyone’s pretty damn good," Bummer said. "There’s going to be six guys, seven guys that hopefully Tony (La Russa)’s comfortable throwing in those innings, and we’re going to be able to cycle through guys, keep guys fresh and not really kill certain guys so at the end of the season everybody’s healthy and we’re rolling into the postseason.
"There’s no way that this will not be a dominant bullpen if everyone continues to improve in that way."