White Sox

White Sox have been feeling the Royal Pains

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White Sox have been feeling the Royal Pains

Once upon a time, the Los Angeles Dodgers had Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale. The Atlanta Braves had Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine.
Well, look out world. The Kansas City Royals now have their own vaunted 1-2 pitching combo:
Bruce Chen and Jeremy Guthrie.
For two nights, these journeymen pitchers threw kryptonite at the White Sox, who mustered just two measly runs against the Royals dynamic duo in 14.2 innings.
For Chen, it was his first win since June 26. For Guthrie, his first victory since May 31.
Youre wondering why that White Sox fan showed up to work today with all those cuts and bruises? He spent most of the night banging his head against the wall.
Chen was good, but Guthrie was great -- maybe the greatest of his major league career. Seriously. He was one inning away from his very first shutout, in his 173rd major league start, the fourth longest drought for a pitcher in major league history.
That, arguably, could be the best-pitched game weve had all year, said manager Ned Yost, whose team has the sixth highest ERA in the majors.
We knew his numbers dont reflect the kind of pitcher that he is, Adam Dunn said. Youre not going to talk to anyone who knows baseball that says he doesnt have good stuff. Hes got great stuff. Usually it seems like youre going to get a pitch or two to hit, and tonight when we did, we didnt do anything with them.
So how did Guthrie celebrate after his eight scoreless innings? This little soak in the tub.
I wonder if Alexei Ramirez threw a party of his own. Hes 1-for-22 in his career against Guthrie. Hes also 1-for-22 against Chen. Who cant wait to see former Sox pitcher Brandon McCarthy pitch against them on Friday? Ramirez.
The Royals took two-of-three from the White Sox, who have got to find a way to beat this pesky last-place team. They still have nine more games against them, including next week in Kansas City. It was the first series the White Sox had lost at home since the Cubs won two-of-three at U.S. Cellular Field in the third week of June.
But if we have learned anything about this White Sox team its the word reliever Matt Thornton provided when I asked him what the key to their success has been.
Resiliency.
Theres no give with us. Thats what youve seen with us all year long, Thornton said. Even if we lose three, four, five games in a row, we bounce back, and keep getting back up.
Which has stunned every expert who predictedArmageddonon the South Side, a season with over 90 losses and a last-place finish in the AL Central. Instead, the White Sox have been in first place for 70 days, while the Tigers, who everyone (including me) thought would run away with the division, have been in first for just 24 days.
We better get real cold for them to look good, Thornton said about the experts. They have to make their preseason predictions for everything. They backfire all the time. Being an athlete, I dont really throw too many predictions out there. Were proof that the experts dont always exactly know what theyre talking about all the time.
But Thornton, an avid football fan and one of the White Sox in-house NFL experts, did made this prediction about the upcoming season:
I have the Houston Texans winning the Super Bowl this year...and Im a Lions fan.
Once upon a time, Thornton, a Michigan native, was also a Tigers fan. Somewhere inside ashoe boxor family album likely exists a photo of Matt as a child fitted in Tigers garb from head-to-toe.
But times have obviously changed.
My immediate family now is of course Sox fans," Thornton said. "They have been since the day I got over here, but I do have a lot of friends from high school and college that say, Were pulling for the Tigers, we want you to do well when youre in the game, but we want you guys to lose.
Now with 52 games remaining, the battle lines have been drawn. Its a two-team race between the White Sox and Tigers for the division title.
It has nothing to do with me growing up being a Tigers fan, Thornton said. Its a fact that thats a great team over there. Were proving to be a great team too. Weve been here all year. We have guys having great years, bouncing back from bad years last year, everyone is doing their part to win ballgames. With the mix that we have here, its going to be a fun last month and a half.

Up close, White Sox see same big potential Cubs forecasted for Dylan Cease

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Up close, White Sox see same big potential Cubs forecasted for Dylan Cease

The Cubs made the Jose Quintana deal knowing it would have been more difficult to give up Dylan Cease if he was already performing at the Double-A level, and that the White Sox organization would be a good place to continue his education as a young pitcher.

While Eloy Jimenez keeps drawing ridiculous comparisons – the running total now includes Kris Bryant, Miguel Cabrera, Edgar Martinez and David Ortiz – Cease is more than just the other name prospect from the deal that shocked the baseball world during the All-Star break.

“We still project him as a starter,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said during this week’s GM meetings in Florida. “He certainly has the stuff where it’s easy to envision him as a potential dominant reliever. But to this point – for the foreseeable future – we deal with the starting and continue to develop him as a potential front-end arm.”

The Theo Epstein regime still hasn’t developed an impact homegrown pitcher, but that hasn’t stopped the Cubs from winning 292 games, six playoff rounds and a World Series title across the last three seasons, while still being in a strong position to win the National League Central again in 2018.

Without Quintana and his affordable contract that can run through 2020, Epstein’s front office might have been looking at the daunting possibility of trying to acquire three starting pitchers this winter.

While surveying a farm system in the middle of a natural downturn, Baseball America ranked seven pitchers on its top-10 list of prospects from the Cubs organization: Adbert Alzolay, Jose Albertos, Alex Lange, Oscar De La Cruz, Brendon Little, Thomas Hatch and Jen-Ho Tseng.

So far, only Alzolay, an Arizona Fall League Fall Star with seven starts for Double-A Tennessee on his resume, and Tseng, who made his big-league debut in September, have pitched above the A-ball level.

Cease – who went 0-8 with a 3.89 ERA for Class-A Kannapolis in his first nine starts in the White Sox system – has a 100-mph fastball and a big curveball and won’t turn 22 until next month. That stuff allowed Cease to pile up 126 strikeouts against 44 walks in 93.1 innings this year, putting him in the wave that includes Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Michael Kopech and Alec Hansen.

“Ideally, we have a lot of guys we project to be part of the future, very good, championship-caliber rotation,” Hahn said. “In an ideal world, there’s not going to be room at the inn for all of them. You only have five in that rotation and some of these guys will wind up in the bullpen. In reality, as players develop, you’re going to see some attrition.”

One spot after the White Sox grabbed Carlos Rodon with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft, the Cubs did Kyle Schwarber’s below-slot deal, using part of the savings to buy out Cease’s commitment to Vanderbilt University ($1.5 million bonus for a sixth-rounder) and supervise his recovery from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.

Cease was never going to be on the fast track to Wrigley Field, and now the White Sox hope he can be part of the foundation on the South Side, where it’s easier to sell a rebuild after watching the Cubs and Houston Astros become World Series champions.

“It doesn’t change really for us internally in terms of our commitment or focus or our plan or our timeline or anything along those lines,” Hahn said. “I do think, perhaps, it helps the fan base understand a little bit about what the process looks like, where other teams have been and how long the path they took to get to the ultimate goal of winning a World Series (was). In Chicago, many fans saw it firsthand with the Cubs.

“There are certainly more and more examples in the game over the last several years to help sort of show fans the path and justification for what we’re (doing).”

The White Sox just traded for a really intriguing arm

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USA TODAY

The White Sox just traded for a really intriguing arm

The White Sox continued their rebuild Thursday by trading for an intriguing young right-handed pitcher.

The South Siders acquired Thyago Vieira from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for international signing bonus pool money.

The 24-year-old Vieira is a Brazilian native and has only made one appearance in the big leagues, striking out a batter in one perfect inning of work in 2017.

While his career minor-league numbers don't jump off the page — 14-19 with a 4.58 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 13 saves and 7.4 K/9 in 290.2 innings \— Vieira has been reportedly clocked at 104 mph with his fastball and was ranked as the Mariners' No. 8 prospect at the time of the deal. He also held righties to .194 batting average in 2017.

Here's video of Vieira throwing gas:

And this may explain why Vieira was even available:

Control has been an issue throughout his career, as he's walked 4.6 batters per nine innings in the minors. He has improved in that regard over the last few seasons, however, walking only 22 batters in 54 innings across three levels in 2017 and he doled out only one free pass in 5.1 innings in the Arizona Fall League in 2016.

What does this deal mean in the big picture for baseball? How did the Sox pull off a move like this while not having to give up a player in return? 

This may help shed light on the situation from Baseball America's Kyle Glaser:

Either way, the White Sox may have just acquired a guy who could potentially throw his name in the hat for "future closer." Or at the very least, throw his name in the hat for "best name."