The Chicago White Sox are currently on a 6 game winning streak and have improved to 14-13 here with a hot start in May. The pitching staff continues to carry this team to close victories as they wait for the offense to heat up.
While the starters have been very good, the team’s bullpen has been stellar during the stretch. Liam Hendriks is doing what he was paid to do, save games. But the real surprise, is the re-emergence of third year reliever Matt Foster.
After a great rookie season in 2020, where Foster posted a stellar ERA of 2.20 with 6 wins and 31 strikeouts, Foster struggled immensely in his second year with the White Sox.
Sophomore Slump in 2021
Foster posted an ERA over 6 last season, giving up 9 homers in 39 innings pitched. He often found himself pitching in games that were blowouts and hardly ever in situations of high leverage. In 2021, Foster also had trouble staying healthy throughout the 162 game season.
Manager Tony La Russa could not trust him to pitch effectively in high leverage situations. In fact, Foster did not even make the post season roster last year for the White Sox.
A New and Improved Foster
So far this season, Foster has not only improved from his horrible 2021 season, but he has outperformed his 2020 season as well. The stats Foster is posting thus far is hardly sustainable long term, but he certainly has earned the trust of La Russa.
Here are Matt Foster’s numbers in the 12 appearances he has made this season: A 0.71 ERA, with 10 strike outs, with only 1 run and 7 hits surrendered. The numbers are simply out of this world. Foster has commanded his fastball with ease and has mixed it up with his slider very well. His fastball has reached up to 97 MPH. The 3rd year reliever is pitching with extreme confidence in the toughest of situations.
There are 4 key appearances that Foster has made in the past week to solidify his spot to pitch late in games.
May 3rd against the Chicago Cubs
in the first game of the crosstown series against the Chicago Cubs, Foster came into the game in the bottom of the 8th inning with the White Sox up 3 to 1. He recorded a hold, striking out 1 and handing the game over to Hendriks for the save. This was a clear sign for La Russa to keep putting Foster in high leverage situations. The very next game, the White Sox skipper did just that.
May 4th against the Chicago Cubs
The following night was a much more stressful situation that Foster came into pitch. Foster came into the game during the 8th inning once again after teammate Aaron Bummer was pulled by La Russa. The Cubs had runners on 2nd and 3rd with only one out. After recording the 2nd out, Foster got the final out on a 3-2 pitch, striking out Ian Happ with a fastball looking. Once again, he handed the game over to Hendriks in the 9th to close it out.
May 6th against the Boston Red Sox
In this appearance, Foster pitched the 6th inning this time around. The result was the same, another hold. In this outing Foster walked a batter and recorded 0 strikeouts. Nevertheless, he gave up soft contact and gave up 0 hits in his inning of work. Being able to come in and execute your pitches no matter if it is the 6th inning or the 8th inning, shows how reliable Foster has been in 2022.
May 7th against the Boston Red Sox
To cap off an amazing week of pitching performances, Foster saved his best for last. Once again, Foster entered the game in the 8th inning with the White Sox holding on to a slim one run lead. The heart of the order was due to bat for the Red Sox. The result was spectacular as Foster struck out the side to end the 8th. He struck out Trevor Story on a biting slider, Rafael Devers on a high fastball at 96 MPH, and Xander Bogaerts on another slider.
The week Foster had pitching is simply remarkable. It solidifies a bullpen that is already one of the best in baseball. With reliever Joe Kelly set to join the team May 9th when they kick off a 3 game series at home versus the Cleveland Guardians, it becomes interesting to see how La Russa will continue to use Foster moving forward.
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