2016 Outlook: Weird things can happen in small samples for relievers. A great example is Robertson and how his ERA is apparently trending in the wrong direction even as his ERA indicators suggest he's been the same guy for the past three seasons. The real interesting trend is how he's flipped from being an extreme groundballer to a flyball pitcher. Flyball pitchers can be effective if they carry a high strikeout rate with low walk rates. Robertson's control is inconsistent but, combined with a stellar strikeout rate, is good enough to get away with a few extra lofted batted balls despite working in U.S. Cellular Field half the time. Robertson will be a strong contributor in saves, WHIP and punch outs. His ERA, on the other hand, is up to fate -- even more so than most pitchers.
2016 Outlook: A popular closer candidate entering 2014, Jones injured his elbow early on that season and ultimately underwent Tommy John surgery. His recovery would keep him out until August of last year, but Jones looked like his old self upon his return, routinely touching the high-90s with his fastball while flashing the same dominant slider. Jones had an 8.3 percent walk rate last season, which is more than acceptable given the stuff. Fears of re-injury to the elbow are legitimate given how hard and often he throws the slider, so first things first, Jones will need to show he can stay healthy in 2016. Further, David Robertson represents a road block to the closer role, but Jones, now 30, still easily profiles as a closer if his body ever cooperates.
2016 Outlook: Putnam came back to earth in 2015 after a masterful 2014 campaign. His ERA rocketed from an excellent 1.98 to a below-average 4.07, and his walk rate increased from 3.3 to 4.4 BB/9. The right-hander's strand rate also decreased 7.9 percent, and his GB/FB dropped from 1.98 to 1.38. There were bright spots in the 28-year-old's season, though. Putnam saw a spike in strikeouts, punching out 18 more batters in six fewer innings than 2014 to produce a very good 11.8 K/9. He should continue to see plenty of action out of the Chicago bullpen, so if he can bring his ERA down a bit and reduce the number of free passes he hands out, he could become one of the better relievers for the White Sox.
2016 Outlook: Following a stellar 2014 campaign with the Brewers, Duke was less than great as a member of the White Sox. While a 3.41 ERA seems decent enough, it comes on the heels of a 2.45 ERA in 2014. His FIP also rocketed from 2.21 in 2014 to a whopping 4.68, showing that his ERA could've easily been much worse than it ended up. He also had an influx of walks and home runs, as he produced a career-high 4.8 BB/9 and gave up 1.3 HR/9. All that aside, the 32-year-old improved his BAA against both left-handed and right-handed batters from 2014 to '15, and even had a career-best .266 BABIP. Duke is still the main left-hander in the White Sox's bullpen, but he'll need to improve his control and keep the ball in the park more consistently if he wants to return to form.
2016 Outlook: Petricka took a step back in 2015, finishing with a 3.63 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 62 games after posting a 2.96 ERA and 1.37 WHIP in 2014. A likely reason for this regression is that his K/9 decreased from 6.8 to 5.7, and his BABIP increased from .298 to .322. Basically, more balls were hit in play against him, and they were hit in play with a higher batting average. Additionally, his strand percentage decreased in 2015 as he allowed approximately five percent more baserunners to reach home than in 2014. Petricka's best pitch is his mid-90s fastball that he complements with a solid curveball. The Minnesota native will try to work his ERA closer to his 3.24 career average while occupying a middle-relief role for the White Sox in 2016.