Updated: August 8, 2014 12:30AM
SEATTLE — Even with closer Addison Reed dealt away for third-base prospect Matt Davidson during the offseason, the White Sox felt good about their bullpen.
Right-handers Nate Jones and Matt Lindstrom were back, veteran lefty Scott Downs was on the way and Ronald Belisario had a proven record of effectiveness with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Pitching coach Don Cooper’s knack for developing closers gave general manager Rick Hahn confidence that one of the Sox’ young, unproven pitchers would emerge as a capable ninth-inning option this season or in time for next year, when the team should — according to plan — be more competitive.
But injuries to Jones and Lindstrom drastically changed the face of the pen, which never recovered and has been largely responsible for preventing the Sox from hanging around the wild-card picture as mid-August approaches.
Before the Sox opened a six-game swing through Seattle and San Francisco with a 13-3 loss to the Mariners on Thursday night, the bullpen ranked 13th in the American League in ERA (4.42) and first in walks.
That will get you nothing but a lot of deflating late-inning defeats.
“Teams that are in it every year, they usually have a pretty good bullpen,’’ manager Robin Ventura understated Thursday.
“Good bullpens are not the same guys dealing it every night. You are seeing different guys come in and pick up the slack. That’s what you are seeing when a bullpen is in sync.’’
There hasn’t been nearly enough good rhythm for the Sox’ pen this season. The only good thing about relying on unproven pitchers such as Jake Petricka, Daniel Webb and Zach Putnam in high-leverage situations is the potential payoff down the road.
“Given the youth of the pen, guys are learning from each other, and I include myself in that,’’ Putnam said. “Trying to get better, taking the ups and the downs, and trying to take something from every outing, whether it’s a good one or a bad one. Try to take something going into the next outing, watch what other guys do and try to learn from that.’’
There were a few more downs Thursday, albeit with nothing to protect after starter Scott Carroll gave up homers to Dustin Ackley, Endy Chavez and Robinson Cano and turned over a 5-2 deficit to the relief corps. Webb gave up a two-run single to Ackley in the sixth and threw a wild pitch that scored another run.
“You feel for guys when they’re struggling, for sure,’’ said Putnam, expected to return from the disabled list Friday after recovering from right shoulder inflammation.
There have been bright spots. Petricka has eased into the closer’s role with good results and has a 1.40 ERA over his last 18 outings.
He and Putnam weren’t even on the Opening Day roster.
After Jose Abreu was hit by a pitch for the second time — by Roenis Elias on the left arm above his elbow in the sixth inning and by Danny Farquhar on the left forearm in the eighth, Sox reliever Maikel Cleto hit Kendrys Morales on the left leg with the first pitch of the Mariners’ eighth.
Both benches were warned by umpire Toby Basner, and Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon was ejected after coming out to argue about the warning.