White Sox

With James Shields out, White Sox turn to Mike Pelfrey and won't disrupt development of pitching prospects

With James Shields out, White Sox turn to Mike Pelfrey and won't disrupt development of pitching prospects

James Shields' strained right lat created the second hole the White Sox have to fill in their rotation this year, with the right-hander being placed on the 10-day disabled list Friday evening. But as was the case with Carlos Rodon's left biceps bursitis, Rick Hahn and the front office won't accelerate or disrupt the development of the organization's trio of highly regarded pitching Triple-A prospects to temporarily take the place of someone at the major league level. 

So instead of seeing Carson Fulmer come up, or Reynaldo Lopez or Lucas Giolito make their White Sox debuts, it'll be 33-year-old right-hander Mike Pelfrey filling Shields' spot in the rotation on Saturday against the Cleveland Indians. 

"From the start, we talked about when these guys do get to Chicago for that last stage of development that happens in the big leagues, we want them to feel comfortable they will get the ball every fifth day," Hahn said. "It's not going to be snatched away from them because someone is coming off the DL or their performance isn't up to snuff in any individual start. That's the ideal path. 

"You can't always follow through on those plans in the end, but right now, we are going to do everything in our power to make sure when any of the prospects get promoted, they will be here to stay."

Fulmer (17 IP, 4.24 ERA, 11 K, 3 BB, 3 HR), Lopez (14 1/3 IP, 5.02 ERA, 19 K, 9 BB, 4 HR) and Giolito (14 IP, 6.43 ERA, 16 K, 9 BB, 3 HR) haven't got off to particularly strong starts, though none of them could've pitched their way back into the major leagues after only three starts. The White Sox will be patient with all three right-handers to make sure that, if and when they do earn their way to 35th and Shields, they're here for good and don't have to go back to the minor leagues. 

While the White Sox did consider promoting right-hander Tyler Danish, who has a 2.00 ERA in three Triple-A starts, he threw six innings Thursday and wouldn't have been able to take Shields' spot in the rotation on Saturday. Pelfrey, then, offers the smoothest transition to replacing a guy in Shields who had a 1.62 ERA in his first three starts of 2017. 

To make room for Pelfrey on the 40-man roster, outfielder Charlie Tilson will be moved to the 60-day disabled list, Hahn said. Tilson, who's been sidelined with a stress reaction in his foot since February, will be out of a walking boot on Monday but wouldn't be ready to re-join the White Sox for at least another month. 

The White Sox described Shields' lat strain as "mild" and expect he'll only miss two or three starts due to it. 

"There's no reason for me to believe right now that he won't be able to pick up where he left off once he comes off the DL here in a couple of weeks," Hahn said. 

The start to Lucas Giolito's 2018 season isn't getting any better: Saturday was 'about as bad as it could get'

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USA TODAY

The start to Lucas Giolito's 2018 season isn't getting any better: Saturday was 'about as bad as it could get'

Lucas Giolito has walked 19 hitters in just four starts.

Things are not going well.

That diagnosis can apply to just about every aspect of the 2018 White Sox so far. They lost in a blowout again Saturday night, this time by a 10-1 score, to drop to 4-13 on the season and 2-13 in their last 15 games. They’ve been outscored 50-15 in their last five games and 24-3 in the last 28 innings.

None of that is good.

But this rebuilding era, this developmental season was expected to have its share of bumps and bruises. What wasn’t expected was the poor play, to this point, of Giolito, who made such a great impression in his seven big league starts at the end of last season and during a dominant spring training.

On Opening Day, he said he felt like a new pitcher. He has been quite different in his first four starts of the regular season, but surely not in the way he hoped. He’s got 19 walks, just nine strikeouts and a 9.00 ERA. Saturday was his poorest outing yet: nine runs allowed, seven batters walked and just six outs recorded.

If you’re displeased with Giolito’s outing, know that he’s not happy about it either.

“Yeah, about as bad as it could get,” he said after the game. “I didn’t have a feel for much of anything. Seven walks, unacceptable. Put the bullpen in that situation, unacceptable. … It’s one of those ones that you throw away and move onto tomorrow and just continue to work on it.”

The problem is that every outing Giolito has made so far this season has approached that description. Against the Kansas City Royals, he walked four and gave up three runs in six innings. Against the Detroit Tigers, he walked three and gave up five runs in 5.2 innings. Against the Minnesota Twins, he walked five and gave up three earned runs in 6.1 innings.

Conditions have been brutal, obviously, with cold weather crippling much of Major League Baseball during this brutal first month of the season. All three of those outings came in very cold conditions, and Saturday’s game wasn’t exactly played in a tropical heat, either.

But the walks are piling up. No pitcher in baseball has issued as many free passes as Giolito.

“At this point I just need to kind of get my flow back,” he said. “I feel like my delivery, I’m not repeating much of anything. Very out of sync. So just need to go out there and kind of let it loose a little bit.”

“His first-pitch strikes were down, obviously. Kind of hard to work with batsmen when you’re behind in the count,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He tried to find his feel. … I think the walks were the biggest thing. You’ve got to command the zone, and hopefully as we continue to move forward and he continues to pitch, he continues to progress and improves on that aspect. In five days, we’ll throw him back out there and see where he’s at.”

As the losses keep coming for this team, they are easy enough to explain away as a product of the rebuild. Young players are spending this season developing at the major and minor league levels, and that doesn’t mean a juggernaut on the field on the South Side.

But the silver linings to all this losing are supposed to be progression of those young players. We’ve seen plenty of positives from the likes of Tim Anderson and Matt Davidson and Reynaldo Lopez at the major league level. And obviously each day brings more news of the fabulous feats the stocked farm system is accomplishing.

Giolito, though, is expected to be a pitcher that makes visible strides. He was so impressive at the end of last summer, throughout this spring, that he entered this season, in the opinion of plenty, as the best pitcher on the 25-man roster. And that still might be the case, but his performance hasn’t been the best. Neither have the results. Something hasn’t carried over from the spring, from the end of last year, and Giolito is still searching for what brought those high expectations in the first place.

“Obviously the mechanics have kind of gone away from where I was,” he said. “And on top of that just pressing and pressing to make it right again instead of just letting it loose.”

As Renteria said, Giolito will get another go real soon. But which Giolito will we see?

Daily White Sox prospects update: Michael Kopech strikes out 10 in latest outing

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Daily White Sox prospects update: Michael Kopech strikes out 10 in latest outing

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Triple-A Charlotte

Michael Kopech struck out 10 despite lasting just five innings and not getting the win Friday night. His ERA stands at 2.40 after giving up three runs. He's up to 21 strikeouts through three outings at Triple-A this season. Charlie Tilson and Casey Gillaspie each had a hit in the 4-1 loss.

Class A Winston-Salem

Joel Booker continued his scorching start, picking up three more hits, including a triple, and raising his batting average to .364 on the season. Luis Alexander Basabe also tripled, walked twice, scored two runs and drove in a run in a 10-3 loss.

Double-A Birmingham

Ian Clarkin allowed four earned runs on seven hits and three walks, striking out only one in his 5.1 innings of work. Seby Zavala had two hits and drove in two runs in a 7-2 loss.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez had a hit in a 4-1 win.