Matt Foster made his Major League debut on the first day of August and immediately hit the ground running for the Chicago White Sox.
The Road to The Show
Foster’s history begins with a 29th round selection in the 2013 Amateur Draft out of Valley High School in Valley, Alabama. The right-hander was picked by the Arizona Diamondbacks but elected to pursue the collegiate route. Foster enrolled at the University of Alabama and was later drafted by the White Sox in the 20th round of the 2016 MLB Draft.
In 2016, at 21 years old, Foster dominated early in the Rookie League for the Sox. In 22 games, he had an ERA of 0.61 over 29.2 innings. That equates to just two earned runs. The Alabama-native allowed just 12 hits while recording 41 strikeouts and seven walks. All of these stats warranted a promotion to Low-A and High-A within the organization.
2017’s higher level of competition put a dent in Foster’s stats, but not by much. He appeared in 22 games that year and maintained an ERA of 1.30 over 27.2 innings. He recorded seven saves in addition to 33 strikeouts. The walks were relatively the same as the right-hander allowed five free passes. Nonetheless, these numbers pushed Foster to Double-A Birmingham for some time in the following season.
The workload picked up quite a bit for Foster in 2018. His appearances doubled from 22 to 45 and his innings did about the same, rising to an even 60. Expectedly so, his ERA increased to 3.30. Foster allowed 58 hits in those 60 frames, walking 20 and striking out 70. These numbers raised the brows of executives in the White Sox organization and led to Foster’s promotion to Triple-A Charlotte in 2019.
Last year with the Knights, as well as some time with Birmingham, the 24-year-old reliever saw 43 games and 64.2 innings. He lowered his ERA to 3.20 and raised his strikeout total to 74. The walks were similar at 21, however, the power bats got to him more than usual. Nine home runs left the yard compared to a combined five in his first three years of professional ball. Even still, those who were invested in the White Sox prospect group were really starting to pay close attention to him.
Hidden Gem of White Sox Bullpen
So, here we are in 2020. The White Sox bullpen is young but up to the task and Foster is no different. He made his debut in Kansas City on August 1st when he entered the game in the fifth inning and recorded his first strikeout. That performance snowballed into five more appearances since then, including a pair of opener starts while the team deals with injuries to their starting rotation. 9.2 innings later, Foster has allowed just three total hits, striking out 15 batters, and has yet to give up a run. In fact, up until the hit he gave up against the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday, Foster hadn’t given up a hit since his third appearance on August 6th against the Milwaukee Brewers. His total line for 2020 exemplifies why he has become one of the team’s most dominant arms.
- 2-0, 10.2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 15 K
While it is uncertain how long the 20th-round pick can keep this up, the confidence he toes the rubber with is almost overwhelming. Pitching in numerous situations, he has already shown the staff his versatility and will likely be used in a plethora of scenarios moving forward. Here’s to hoping that Foster and the rest of the White Sox bullpen can continue their great start.