Reynaldo Lopez’s fastball was the best it had been in three weeks as he made his final start of the season on Wednesday.
The White Sox rookie hit 99 mph on the radar gun in the first inning and generated a bunch of swings and misses in six innings pitched. While Lopez earned a no decision, he pitched well and punctuated what he described as his best season with a strong effort. Lopez finished with seven strikeouts.
“My fastball was good today,” Lopez said through an interpreter. “My command with the fastball was good, and I was able to attack the strike zone.”
Lopez made it clear from the outset he brought with him his best four-seamer in a few weeks. He hit 97 and 98 during a strikeout of Kole Calhoun, touched 99 with Mike Trout at the plate and struck out the side in the first inning.
Lopez felt so good with the four-seamer that he threw it 69 times among 97 pitches. The right-hander averaged 95.5 mph with his four-seamer, according to Baseball Savant, and generated 10 swings and misses.
Over his previous four outings, Lopez had averaged 92.9 mph, 93.8, 94.7 and 94.5, dating back to Sept. 6. In those four starts he got a combined 11 swings and misses and only four strikeouts.
Despite the lack of swings and misses, Lopez still found a way to persevere, posting a 3.55 ERA in 25 1/3 innings.
“I know everybody keeps talking about the strikeouts,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He was throwing 96 today. He hit 96 before. It was working around 93 to 94. Had five or six strikeouts early. Was elevating up out of the zone a little bit, above the hands. Then at the end, another breaking ball a strikeout or two. He’s been throwing well in general.
“I know the last couple of outings everybody keeps talking about the strikeouts, but he’s been throwing well and keeping us in ballgames. Today he got some strikeouts and he had one inning where he had to work a little bit.”
Lopez was outstanding until there were two outs in the fifth inning. That’s when he hit C.J. Cron with a 1-2 curveball, which kickstarted an Angels rally. Two batters later, Calhoun blasted a game-tying, three-run homer to center.
Lopez allowed four earned runs and five hits in six innings. He walked two and threw strikes on 64 of 97 pitches.
Overall, Lopez is pleased with his production. He’s pitched a combined 168 2/3 innings between the majors and Triple-A Charlotte.
“It was a very good season, probably the best season in my career,” Lopez said. “I learned a lot, and that’s something I really appreciate. All of the things I learned this year, I’m going to try to put into next year and throughout my career because that’s the way you can be better as a pitcher and you can develop.”