White Sox rookie relief duo pushes the other

September 20th, 2020

White Sox reliever Matt Foster threw two perfect innings in relief of Dallas Keuchel during Saturday night’s 5-0 victory at Great American Ball Park, while Codi Heuer followed with one hitless frame.

This sort of stellar relief work from the duo has become the rule rather than the exception, despite neither right-hander having pitched in the Majors prior to this abbreviated season. One pitcher sort of feeds off the other, with even a little friendly competition taking place.

“Maybe sometimes,” Heuer said with a laugh. “But everybody is on the same side, so we are all trying to push each other and help somebody get this pitch better or this feel better. Try to help everybody as much as possible.”

“It's been great. We all kind of click together,” Foster said. “And we definitely feed off each other and pick each other's brains. Especially us younger guys, we kind of talk to the veteran guys who've been here a while about what to do in certain situations. They're very good at pointing us in the right direction and leading us and setting a very good example.”

Veterans such as and were brought up by Heuer and Foster during Sunday’s Zoom news conference as examples of pitchers showing the way for these young bullpen arms. González’s leadership has been mentioned on a couple of different occasions this season.

Both hurlers also talked with admiration when watching closer finish off victories. But it’s really the White Sox entire bullpen coming together, a key factor in this day and age of playoff baseball, where starters don't usually go seven innings or beyond.

In fact, the White Sox bullpen entered Sunday’s series finale with a 6-1 record, a 1.52 ERA, a .208 opponents average and 55 strikeouts over 53 1/3 innings over its last 14 games. White Sox relievers have thrown four-plus innings in 14 of the last 24 outings.

Meanwhile, key high-leverage relievers such as Heuer, 24, and Foster, 25, continue to learn even as they find consistency on the mound.

“Just taking it a day at a time,” said Heuer, who has a 1.77 ERA. “Not trying to get too far ahead of yourself and finding that one thing that day to get better at, whether it’s a feel for a pitch or just breathing techniques on the mound or something small like that. Those little things add up. And at the end of the season, it can make a big difference.”

Crochet makes big impression
, the White Sox top pick in the 2020 Draft and the 11th selection overall, seemed to have Reds hitters staring back in disbelief Friday night when he was throwing 101 mph fastballs by them. The southpaw’s teammates were equally impressed by the 21-year-old, who is ranked as the White Sox No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline.

“That was pretty awesome to see,” Foster said. “He just goes out there and pounds them with the 100 mph heater. I wish I had that. But I'll take what I got. He does a very good job, and it's been awesome to watch him, especially warming up. You hear the ball hit the mitt, and it's like a loud bang. You're just like, ‘Oh my gosh, that's crazy.’"

“Impressive. He’s electric. There’s no way around it,” Heuer said. “It was pretty fun to watch. I was watching him warm up, and it was the real deal.”

Third to first
had another pre-scheduled day off Sunday to help his legs and overall body maintain strength. Moncada, who tested positive for COVID-19 during the intake process, said the off-days have helped him.

“They found some exercises that are really helping him,” White Sox manager Rick Renteria said. “So this one was a pre-planned day, and we took it. Hopefully, this will be, in terms of having to schedule anything like this, this is the last one.”

Moncada tripled in Saturday’s victory. The switch-hitter has not homered since going deep on Aug. 17, covering 107 plate appearances.

• The White Sox (34-18) are off to their best 52-game start since the 2005 World Series championship season, when they opened at 35-17.

He said it
“Everyone was waiting for that moment. That one felt good. Big pressure off myself. I've been working really, really hard in the last couple of days; the cage work, BP work, it's been so much better. The question was when it was going to happen.” -- Right fielder , on his first White Sox home run on Saturday night