The White Sox top bullpen weapon is still on the injured list. Whether he comes off it before the end of the 2020 season remains to be seen.
The team is hopeful that Aaron Bummer will be back at Rick Renteria's disposal before this shortened season comes to a finish. But dealing with what general manager Rick Hahn revealed Monday to be a nerve issue, it's still unknown exactly if Bummer will be back and when he could be back.
"We still are optimistic that Aaron will return this season," Hahn said. "Now, what we're dealing with here is what has turned out to be a nerve issue near the biceps. The biceps muscle, which was originally strained, has healed and is good, and the issue now is related to the nerve.
"On the positive side, there's no indication this is a long-term issue. If this was a regular season and this happened early or midway through the season, there wouldn't be much issue with timing his return. Now that it's a shortened season, we aren't quite certain exactly when he's going to be able to return.
"The short answer is yes, we are still optimistic that he returns this season, however it is turning out to be a little more involved than originally thought in terms of a muscular strain. There is no long-term concern with Aaron Bummer. If for whatever reason this throwing program doesn't work, or he doesn't return this year, it should be fully behind him when we report to spring training next year."
Bummer is the most important piece of the South Side relief corps, a left-hander who can get both hands of batters out and do so over multiple innings. The White Sox showed what they think of him back in the spring, when they inked him to a long-term contract extension that keeps him under club control through the 2026 season.
Fortunately for the White Sox, they've gotten good performances from a number of their relievers this season, including closer Alex Colomé, Evan Marshall, Ross Detwiler and youngsters like Codi Heuer and Matt Foster. But indeed, as they chase down the franchise's first playoff spot in more than a decade, they'd love to have Bummer play a huge role in the postseason, when bullpens are relied upon more than ever.
After a terrific 2019 campaign that saw him post a 2.13 ERA and strike out 60 batters in 67.2 innings, Bummer was faring even better before going down this season. He had a 1.23 ERA and 12 strikeouts in 7.1 innings.
The good news is the lack of long-term concern on the part of the White Sox, who could turn to Bummer to take over closing duties in 2021 if they deem him the heir to Colomé, who is set to hit free agency after the 2020 campaign.
But as the stakes get higher and higher for the contending White Sox this season, getting Bummer back at any point would be huge. Otherwise, they'll have to figure out how to manage a playoff bullpen without their most important piece.