(670 The Score) White Sox closer Liam Hendriks purposely put an extra emphasis on striking out hitters at times this season because he lacked faith in his team’s defense to make plays behind him, he said Monday.
Hendriks has a 2.81 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 57 2/3 innings across 58 appearances entering play Tuesday. He has struck out 13.3 batters per nine innings this season, a figure that’s in line with his numbers from the previous three seasons. He has also walked 2.5 batters per nine innings, which is a significant jump from his 0.9 rate in 2021, his first season with Chicago.
“The saying goes, ‘defense wins championships,’” Hendriks said Monday. “I think we, from what I read the other day, we were the 28th-ranked defense in baseball. We had the 10th-ranked pitching staff in baseball. So I think there were certain times where the pitchers made up for some of the deficiencies in the field. But it wasn’t for a lack of effort, it wasn’t for a lack of trying, it wasn’t for a lack of anything like that. We just ran into some bad situations that have cost us in those rankings. But at the end of the day, we trust everybody that we have in there. We trust everybody that we have out there. And that’s something that no matter what happens, we have to have that faith in everybody behind us. And that was something that I fell into as well.
Like I was trying to do too much. I was trying to strike everybody out because there were certain times where I just didn’t have that faith in the guys behind him. And that’s something that I had to really work hard on. Because when I started getting that faith back, all of a sudden everything started moving in the right direction. Like, you have to have the faith in everybody behind you.
You have to have the faith in the guy next to you. You have to have the faith in the guy in front of you to get their job. And that goes in everything – whether it be offense, defense or pitching. And it all combines into one. I think it’s something where there’s definitely room for improvement.”
When asked a follow-up question about that lack of faith at times, Hendriks explained that it manifested itself by him – and others – pressing too much in certain situations.
“’Two strikes in the ninth inning – I need to make this pitch, I need to do this, I need to get this big hit, I need to get on base, I need to do these things,’” Hendriks said. “It’s not ‘I.’ It’s always we need to have a ‘we.’ We need to make this pitch, we need to do these things.”
The White Sox are finishing off a disappointing season in which they missed the playoffs. They’re 80-80 entering play Tuesday with two games remaining in the regular season.