White Sox

SaleGreinke: A pitcher's duel, or will Greinke's road struggles continue?

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SaleGreinke: A pitcher's duel, or will Greinke's road struggles continue?

A week ago, the buzz in baseball centered around a matchup between two dominant lefties. But the Chris Sale vs. Clayton Kershaw matchup didn't live up to its pitcher's duel billing -- that went to last Sunday's Jose QuintanaChris Capuano showdown.

Pitching aficionados will get another chance to see Sale participate in a pitcher's duel tonight, though, as Sale squares off against Zack Greinke in Milwaukee's first trip to the South Side since 2000. The White Sox swept Milwaukee en route to winning the AL Central with the best record in the league, scoring 29 runs in the three-game set.

That'll be tough to top this weekend given Greinke's presence on the mound Friday. The former Royal enters the game with a 3.10 ERA in 14 starts, although more impressive is his 2.01 FIP, which stands as the best in baseball.

Quick sidebar: Greinke's a fan of FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), which measures a pitcher's ability to succeed at the things he can directly control -- walks, strikeouts and home runs. Everything other result is at the mercy of a pitcher's fielders.

"Thats pretty much how I pitch, to try to keep my FIP as low as possible," Greinke told the New York Times during his Cy Young season of 2009.

He's doing a fantastic job of it this season, striking out 95 with only 20 walks and three home runs allowed. That may be what you can expect from Greinke tonight -- lots of strikeouts, few walks and even fewer home runs.

But Greinke has struggled on the road this season, allowing opponents to have a .796 OPS against him away from Miller Park. By FIP, he's still excellent, posting a 2.52 FIP on the road as opposed to a 1.44 one at home. But his ERA on the road is 4.96, and opposing hitters have basically been Alejandro De Aza against him.

He hasn't thrown enough road innings to make a solid determination about his struggles. Maybe it's luck, or maybe his command just isn't as good away from Miller Park, leading to more hittable pitches and, of course, more runs crossing the plate.

Sale is coming off statistically his worst start of the season, allowing more than three runs for the first time in a start this season last Friday in Los Angeles. He's pitching on, as Kenny Williams called it this week, a college schedule, on a full week of rest. If everything goes according to plan, Sale's pitch count could get up in the 115, 120 range.

He'll have a great chance to go deep into the game tonight. If Greinke holds up his end of the bargain and Sale bounces back, it could be one of the more exciting games of the 2012 season.

You can catch all the SaleGreinke action on Comcast SportsNet tonight at 7 pm.

If Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez spent 2018 in the majors, what would their production look like?

If Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez spent 2018 in the majors, what would their production look like?

It’s no secret that the White Sox and their fans are hoping to see both Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech in the big leagues in 2018. And according to one full-season projection system, it seems that the computers agree that both will be MLB contributors very soon.

FanGraphs’ Steamer600 projections forecast what MLB hitters would do over 600 plate appearances and what pitchers would do over 200 innings – and both Jimenez and Kopech are close to MLB-ready.

Jimenez, MLB.com’s 5th ranked prospect, is projected to provide a 1.9 offensive WAR and Kopech, MLB.com’s 10th ranked prospect, would account for 1.4 WAR over the course of a full season.

So what does that mean?

Here are some comparable MLB players from 2017 in offensive Wins Above Replacement for Jimenez:

Jackie Bradley Jr., BOS – 1.9 (541 PA) 

Jedd Gyorko, STL – 1.9 (481 PA)

Andrew Benintendi, BOS – 1.9 (658 PA)

Yasiel Puig, LAD – 1.9 (570 PA)

Salvador Perez, KC – 1.9 (499 PA)

Very solid company, considering those five players combined for an average OPS of .788. The Steamer600 projections peg Jimenez for a .770 OPS over 600 plate appearances.

The full forecast is as follows: a .267 batting average, an on-base percentage of .317 and a .453 slugging percentage to go along with 23 home runs.

Meanwhile, Kopech might be a bit further away from being an impact player with a projected WAR of 1.4 over 200 innings.

Here are some MLB WAR comparisons from 2017 for Kopech:

Julio Teheran, ATL – 1.6 (188.1 IP)

Lucas Giolito, CHW – 1.5 (45.1 IP)

Dellin Betances, NYY – 1.5 (59.2 IP)

Miguel Gonzalez, CHW/TEX – 1.5 (156.0 IP)

Greg Holland, COL – 1.4 (44.2 IP)

As you can see, the comparisons are not nearly as promising for Kopech as they are for Jimenez. The comparable range is mostly made up of late-inning relievers or middle-of-the-pack starting pitchers.

With a 100 mile-per-hour fastball and wipeout slider come the occasional control issues, and that is where the Steamer600 projections hurt Kopech the most, with a forecasted walk rate of 5.4 walks per 9 innings pitched.

The full forecast for Kopech includes a 4.84 ERA with 216 strikeouts over 32 starts with 32 home runs allowed. 

Whether these projections come close to reality or not, having Kopech and Jimenez on the Major League doorstep is sure to give the White Sox rebuild yet another boost in the coming season.

Don't call me Carlos: 'I think I’m gonna stick with Yolmer'

Don't call me Carlos: 'I think I’m gonna stick with Yolmer'

After a breakout season in 2017, don’t expect any more name changes from the man formerly known as Carlos Sanchez.

“Yolmer hit more home runs so I think I’m gonna stick with Yolmer,” said Sanchez in an exclusive interview from his Arizona home. “I’m the same person, but Yolmer worked good this year, so I’ll stay with Yolmer.”

After doing away with the name Carlos, the 25-year old infielder set career-highs across the board last year, slugging 12 home runs, driving in 59 runs while posting a .732 OPS.  

He ranked third on the White Sox in Wins Above Replacement with 3.5, trailing only Jose Abreu’s 4.7 and Avisail Garcia’s 4.5. In the three seasons prior, Sanchez totaled just 0.4 WAR in 201 combined games. 

And now, 2018 provides a new opportunity. Sanchez is expected to be the everyday starting third baseman, the spot he took over following Todd Frazier’s midseason trade to the New York Yankees.

With an elevated role comes a vigorous offseason schedule. He took only 20 days off after the regular season before starting to train for the upcoming spring. 

“I don’t want to work just on one thing. I want to do everything and that’s why I start training so early,” he said. “My speed. More power. Agility. A lot of things.”

Sanchez certainly isn’t the flashiest name in a White Sox infield that includes Abreu and the middle-infield tandem of Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson. But he knows his role on the team – being flashy off the field and bringing energy to the clubhouse. 

“If you go with a lot of energy to the game, a lot of things change,” said Sanchez. “That makes a lot of difference in one game. And one game can make a lot of difference during the season.”

But a 70-92 record by the White Sox certainly was not due to a lack of energy as much as a general lack of talent. That should change in 2018 – when fans can expect to see Moncada, as well as other names like Nicky Delmonico, Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez play a full major league season. Not to mention prospects like Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech knocking on the door to the big leagues.

And that excites Sanchez.

“We’ve got really young players but really talented [players],” said Sanchez. “We have to get better, but I think we can do a lot of good things next year.”

Are there any young players Sanchez is specifically excited to see develop? 

“They’re all going to be really good if they keep working,” he said. “Moncada could be a superstar.” 

That’s exactly what the White Sox are hoping as well.