White Sox

Peavy's best outing yet?; Sale struggles again


Peavy's best outing yet?; Sale struggles again

Monday, March 14, 2011
Posted 5:05 p.m. Updated 7:05 p.m.

By Brett Ballantini

GLENDALE, Ariz. If there was a team Jake Peavy could have imagined having a smooth outing against, the offensively-challenged San Diego Padres might have been the one.

Both Peavy and lefty phenom Chris Sale were touched for three runs apiece, setting the foundation for the Chicago White Soxs 7-6 setback to the Fathers.

I felt OK, better than I expected, Peavy said. I made good progress today. Im excited about the direction I went in. Obviously I worked on some things, found some flaws out there in the middle part of the game, worked on some things, and stayed stubborn. I got good work in. It was a fun day. I climbed.

To a man, the White Sox agreed with Peavys assessment, that his six hits and a walk en route to three earned runs against two strikeouts was the best outing the righthander has had in his comeback.

It went very well, manager Ozzie Guillen said. The feedback from him in the dugout was the best I got from him in the three outings hed had. He was talking very positively. Today he was more aggressive than he was earlier. He let the ball go a couple of times. Im very happy with where he is right now.

Peavy threw the ball better than what his line says, said catcher A.J. Pierzynski, who clocked a two-run homer in the sixth as part of a 2-for-4 day. In the last inning we were trying to work on specific pitches in a specific spot out of the stretch when there were chances to put guys away. Instead of doing that, we just kind of continued to throw the same pitch.

Peavy was off to another strong start, taking just seven pitches (six strikes) to get through the first in 1-2-3- fashion. With two outs in the second, Peavy gave up a walk to Cedric Hunter and a single to Mike Baxter, but got Kyle Phillips to fly out to left to end the threat.

The righthander also allowed two baserunners in the third, surrendering back-to-back singles to Jason Bartlett (who had whiffed on three straight pitches in the first) and Chase Headley, but escaped any damage. The White Sox took the lead in the bottom of the third on a solo home run from Lastings Milledge.

Milledge turning heads

Peavy started the fourth inning from the stretch, giving up a sharp single to left from Cameron Maybin. Hunter drove him in with a double to right, and Baxter got his second hit of the game off of Peavy, crushing a home run into the White Sox bullpen in right. Peavy then retired the next three batters, all on ground outs to second base.

Peavy finished with 67 pitches, 47 for strikes, over his four innings.

Sale relieved Peavy and gave up another three earned runs, pushing his spring ERA to 7.36.

Im not concerned about him, but Im disappointed a little bit, Guillen said. Not because he gave up three runsthats part of the game. He was missing spots. The ball was supposed to be in and it was away. He was a little out of whack today, thats all. Pierzynski also said Sale was just a little bit off in his outing.

The White Sox scored two more runs in the eighth on an Alexei Ramirez two-run blast, but couldnt tie the game.

The team is doing a lot better than the record 6-10-1 says, Pierzynski said. I feel that were good. Guys have been coming in and throwing the ball well. As it gets closer to Opening Day, the hitters get closer and closer. Thats what you look for as a player.

Ozzie on Sale

Guillen admitted his disappointment with Sales outing, but remains encouraged about his prospects.

We have to be patient with this kid, he said. A lot of people think hes Sandy Koufax, 30 years in the big leagues, but this kid just came out of college two weeks ago or, last June. Its a learning process. I talked to the pitching coach Don Cooper and hes going to have a sideline pitching session. Its not about stuff, but where you locate your stuff.

Roster trimming

Eight White Sox were moved out of the major-league clubhouse after the game. Triple-A Charlotte gains outfielder Stefan Gartrell, infielder Eduardo Escobar, and pitchers Anthony Carter and Freddy Dolsi. Double-A Birmingham adds pitchers Kyle Cofield and Nate Jones. Two other pitchers, Brandon Hynick and Miguel Socolovich, were simply reassigned to minor league camp.

Gartrell, we have to send him down, but this kid had a great spring training, Guillen said. Escobar played better than what people thought and opened a lot of peoples eyes. Were very excited about him and what he can do.

The White Sox roster now stands at 38 players: 18 pitchers, four catchers, 10 infielders and six outfielders.

Hopefully, its about 25 players but its never going to happen because of injuries and slumps, Guillen added. Its about 30 or 32 players, and players sent down have to be ready and prepared to help us in the summer.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Houston Astros?


White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Houston Astros?

What’s there to know about the Houston Astros?

They’re the best, that’s what there is to know.

The Astros are the defending world champions for a multitude of reasons, and it’s all those and more that will have them as a favorite to repeat in 2018. Yes, the Cubs and New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers and Cleveland Indians will all have something to say about that. But right now, no team is better on paper than the team the just won the big enchilada not five months ago.

The best 1-2 starting-pitching in combo in baseball? It belongs to the Astros. Justin Verlander was sensational for them after coming over in a late-summer trade with the Detroit Tigers. All he did was post a 1.06 ERA in five regular-season starts and a 2.21 ERA in six postseason outings. Justin Verlander. Again. And then there’s his running mate Dallas Keuchel — who doesn’t like the Cubs very much, apparently — has been just as good. He had a 2.90 ERA last year and won the American League Cy Young in 2015 with a 2.48 ERA and 20 wins.

Get past those guys and you’ll have to face the new guy. Gerrit Cole is now an Astro, as well, the reigning champs bolstering their already excellent rotation by importing one of the National League’s best pitchers. Cole saw his numbers jump last year (4.26 ERA) but still almost had 200 strikeouts and now has a much better roster around him than the one he left in Pittsburgh.

Charlie Morton? He threw four one-run innings in Game 7 of the World Series. Lance McCullers? He had 2.1 shutout innings in Game 7 of the World Series. This rotation is a force that could mow down the AL. There are questions, sure, but this five is entering 2018 as the best collection of arms in the Junior Circuit.

And we haven’t even gotten to the hitting. Oh, the hitting! The Astros scored 34 runs in seven World Series games. They banged out 56 hits. They hit 15 home runs. This after they were baseball’s best offense during the regular season.

The names are obvious to anyone who watched the postseason. Jose Altuve, surely tired of all the short jokes, is arguably the best player in baseball, and he won the AL MVP last season with a ridiculous .346/.410/.547 slash line. Carlos Correa, perhaps baseball’s best young shortstop, had a .315/.391/.550 slash line. George Springer, your World Series MVP, hit 34 regular-season home runs and got on base at a .367 clip before hitting five homers and slashing .379/.471/.1.000 in the Fall Classic.

Then there’s Alex Bregman and Josh Reddick and Marwin Gonzalez, who were all very good to great in 2017. They shouldn’t all be expected to do what they did last season — you need look no further than the Cubs to see what a deep World Series run can do to a team, especially early. But is there a better lineup than this in the AL? Anyone? Bueller?

It’s hard to repeat, and “hard” is becoming one heck of an understatement considering no one’s repeated in almost two decades. The Yankees last did it when they beat the broken-bat-throwing Mike Piazza and the New York Mets in the 2000 World Series. Since then, no one’s done it twice in a row.

Last year, most of us looked at the Cubs and said, “They have the best team, they are favorites to do it again.” And then they were not even in first place in the NL Central at the All-Star break. A similar fate could await the Astros. But right now, they look like the best team the AL has to offer.

Houston, you are clear for takeoff ... again.

2017 record: 101-61, first place in AL West, World Series champions

Offseason additions: Gerrit Cole, , Joe Smith, Hector Rondon

Offseason departures: Carlos Beltran, Cameron Maybin, Mike Fiers, Tyler Clippard, Luke Gregerson, Francisco Liriano

X-factor: The Astros now count one-time Cubs closer Hector Rondon among their relievers now, but the X-factor pick here is Bregman. After a fine but nothing special first half, he was one of baseball's best after the All-Star break last year, slashing .315/.367/.536 with 11 homers and 44 RBIs in 71 games in the second half.

Projected lineup:

1. George Springer, CF
2. Alex Bregman, 3B
3. Jose Altuve, 2B
4. Carlos Correa, SS
5. Josh Reddick, RF
6. Marwin Gonzalez, 1B
7. Brian McCann, C
8. Evan Gattis, DH
9. Derek Fisher, LF

Projected rotation:

1. Justin Verlander
2. Dallas Keuchel
3. Gerrit Cole
4. Lance McCullers
5. Charlie Morton

Prediction: First place in AL West

Catch up on the AL:

Oakland Athletics
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels
Houston Astros

Catch up on the NL:

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants

Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: How many members of the bullpen are long-term pieces?


Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: How many members of the bullpen are long-term pieces?

White Sox fans might have their eyes on the future, but the 2018 season has plenty of intrigue all its own. As Opening Day nears, let's take a look at the 18 most pressing questions for the 2018 edition of the South Side baseball team.

White Sox fans playing the 2020 projection game likely aren't spending too much time on the relief corps.

It might be fun to pick out five names for a potentially elite starting rotation. It might be fun to go around the diamond and place the name of a top prospect at each position. It's probably far less enjoyable to predict which pitchers won't make it as starters and which middle relievers might hit the free-agent market after the 2019 season.

But the bullpen will be a valuable part of any contending White Sox team of the future. And just like everywhere else on the roster, its construction starts now.

The question is, though, after selling off most of the bullpen last summer, how many members of the White Sox bullpen in 2018 will be a part of it in 2020?

Rick Hahn's front office could use a similar strategy this season as it did last season, when Anthony Swarzak, Tommy Kahnle, David Robertson and Dan Jennings were all traded away to acquire prospects that might or might not end up helping the team's rebuilding efforts. This offseason has seen a lot of additions to the relief corps. Luis Avilan and Joakim Soria were acquired in a three-team trade, and there were a bunch of veterans signed to minor league deals that could end up on the team. Those older relievers fit the bill of trade bait, potential sign-and-flip guys that could be used to acquire more minor league talent.

But at the same time, there are young guys who will be a part of this 'pen, guys who could show they belong for the foreseeable future. Juan Minaya, just 27, was the White Sox closer at the end of last season and could very well start this season with that job. He picked up nine saves over the season's last month and a half and didn't give up a run in his final eight outings. The 24-year-old Aaron Bummer pitched in 30 games with the White Sox last season and is still ranked as one of the organization's top 20 prospects. Gregory Infante is 30 but put up good numbers in 52 big league games, finishing the year with a 3.13 ERA.

And then there's Nate Jones. He's pitched in parts of six seasons with the White Sox and just turned 32 years old, but the key word there is "parts." Jones hasn't been able to stay healthy, pitching in just 11 games last year and only 21 combined games in 2014 and 2015. But when he has stayed on the field, he's been very good. Look at 2016, when he turned in a 2.29 ERA and struck out 80 batters in 70.2 innings. Jones is under contract through as long as the 2021 season and has the stuff to contend for the closer's job at some point this season.

While Soria and Avilan look like guys who could be moved should they pitch well enough to draw midseason interest — a reason Soria could potentially get a look at closer at some point, that and his wealth of experience in the role — there are a few names that could be pitching for their long-term futures with the team. Outside of Zack Burdi, there isn't a highly touted prospect that currently projects to be a bullpen guy. That leaves opportunity for some of the guys on this year's roster.