White Sox

White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Los Angeles Angels?


White Sox opposition research: What's there to know about the Los Angeles Angels?

As the 2018 season nears and the White Sox get ready to take on the rest of the American League, we're taking a team-by-team look at all 14 of their opponents.

What’s there to know about the Los Angeles Angels?

A lot, actually.

But there’s only one thing we really want to know: Are we ever going to see Mike Trout in the playoffs again? You shouldn’t feel bad if you blinked and missed the best player in baseball’s lone postseason appearance, three losses to the Kansas City Royals in 2014. This guy’s been the face of the game, and he’s got only 12 more postseason at-bats than I do.

That’s a shame, of course, and the Halos have done quite a bit to try to change that this offseason. And they very well might. The new additions in Anaheim have provided plenty of interest, but will that translate to wins? Time to find out.

Obviously, Trout won’t even be the most paid-attention-to Angel come Opening Day, when we finally get to see if Shohei Ohtani lives up to the hype. Baseball had their own version of that reality show that everyone loves so much — Something to do with roses, I think? Is it a show about gardening? America’s Next Top Gardener! Nailed it. — with teams courting the talents of the two-way Japanese superstar. Ohtani is projected to slot into the No. 2 spot in the Angels’ rotation and play regularly as a designated hitter.

That seems like a lot to ask of a 23-year-old who’s never seen major league pitching or faced major league hitting, a lot of pressure on the guy instantaneously crowned baseball’s top prospect.

What Ohtani will do is a complete mystery — but that’s kind of the case for the Angels’ entire rotation. These guys should at least be well rested considering they’ve logged hardly any big league innings over the past two seasons. Seriously, look at the number of starts the Angels’ projected starting staff made last year:

— Garrett Richards: six (after just six in 2016)
— Shohei Ohtani: zero (no career MLB appearances)
— Matt Shoemaker: 14
— Andrew Heaney: five (after just one in 2016)
— J.C. Ramirez: 24 (the first 24 starts of his four-year big league career)
— Tyler Skaggs: 16 (after just 10 in 2016 and zero in 2015)

So that adds up to 65 from six pitchers. Add up the combined 2017 regular-season and postseason starts by Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel, the co-aces for the division-rival Houston Astros, and it’s 66. These Angels pitchers need to stay on the field.

But while that might not sound too promising, the Halos made some typical Halo-style additions, getting a bunch of All Stars on the other side of 30 to try and get Trout — still one of their youngest position players, despite being in the league for seven years — to the playoffs. Justin Upton, acquired in a trade last season with the Detroit Tigers, and Zack Cozart, signed as a free agent this offseason, are both coming off awesome seasons. Upton posted career highs in homers, RBIs and doubles and nearly had career highs in plenty of other categories. Zack Cozart was one of the National League’s best hitters last season, finishing 11th in on-base percentage and OPS. Ian Kinsler? Not coming off a good season. He was statistically bad for the bad-in-every-way Detroit Tigers, but he’s only two years removed from a .831 OPS and 28 homers in 2016, so who knows.

Will it all pay off? Will those moves make the Angels any better? Will it really matter all that much in an AL not exactly bursting with playoff contenders?

All I know is this: America is clamoring for its favorite baseball icon to return to the postseason. We need it. Nothing would make us more happy than to see a symbol of the game, why we watch the game, on the game’s grandest stage. So do it, Angels. Get the Rally Monkey back to October.

What, you thought I was talking about Trout?

2017 record: 80-82, second place in AL West

Offseason additions: Shohei Ohtani, Ian Kinsler, Zack Cozart, Rene Rivera, Chris Young, Jim Johnson, Luke Bard

Offseason departures: Cliff Pennington, Ben Revere, Jesse Chavez, Ricky Nolasco, Bud Norris, Yusmeiro Petit, Fernando Salas, Huston Street

X-factor: Former Cubs reliever Blake Parker was excellent for the Angels last season, making 71 appearances and finishing with a 2.54 ERA. But for X-factor, let's go with heretofore unmentioned Andrelton Simmons, who was very good in 2017, perhaps the Angels' best non-Trout player. He plays great defense at shortstop, baseball's leader in defensive runs saved last season. He also slashed a very respectable .278/.331/.421 with 14 dingers and a career-best 19 steals. And all-around impact player to say the least.

Projected lineup:

1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
2. Mike Trout, CF
3. Justin Upton, LF
4. Albert Pujols, DH
5. Kole Calhoun, RF
6. Zack Cozart, 3B
7. Luis Valbuena, 1B
8. Andrelton Simmons, SS
9. Martin Maldonado, C

Projected rotation:

1. Garrett Richards
2. Shohei Ohtani
3. Matt Shoemaker
4. Andrew Heaney
5. J.C. Ramirez
6. Tyler Skaggs

Prediction: Second place in AL West, AL wild card

Catch up on the AL:

Oakland Athletics
Texas Rangers
Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels

Catch up on the NL:

San Diego Padres
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Francisco Giants

Five bold White Sox predictions for 2018


Five bold White Sox predictions for 2018

Time to get bold!

There are plenty of predictions going around for the White Sox in 2018. But are any as bold as these?

1. Matt Davidson will lead the White Sox in homers

2. Lucas Giolito will be an American League All Star

3. Yoan Moncada will finish in the top 10 in baseball in walks

4. Avisail Garcia's OPS won't be higher than .750

5. Nate Jones will lead the team in saves — but won't start the season with the job

If you need an explanation, we've got it for you. Check out our #WhiteSoxWhiteboard broadcast from Thursday to hear why we think all this will come true. And also hear five bold predictions from the other side of town, too.

Give it a watch:

Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: When will Carlos Rodon be back, and where does he stand as rotation of the future gets more crowded?


Eighteen White Sox questions for 2018: When will Carlos Rodon be back, and where does he stand as rotation of the future gets more crowded?

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.

Carlos Rodon, Carlos Rodon. Wherefore art thou, Carlos Rodon?

White Sox fans know exactly where Rodon is and will be for the the next little while: He'll be in Arizona recovering from the shoulder surgery that brought an early end to his 2017 season. What remains unknown is when White Sox fans will again see Rodon pitching on the South Side.

The question of when Rodon will make his 2018 debut is a fine one to ask, but it's part of a larger, more important one: Will he be able to be the pitcher the White Sox believed he'd be when they spent the No. 3 pick on him in the 2014 draft?

Last season should offer some hope in that department. After all, this will be the second straight campaign Rodon starts well after the rest of his teammates. A spring injury a year ago prevented him from making his 2017 debut until June 28. A similar amount of time could pass before he begins his 2018 season, too.

But after returning from last year's bout of biceps bursitis, Rodon looked good. He put up some decent numbers, too. Though he made just 12 starts during the 2017 season, he had some real flashes of brilliance, including three double-digit strikeout performances against the Oakland Athletics, Cubs and Boston Red Sox. There were some clunkers, sure, like the five runs in 3.2 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers and the five runs in five innings in his penultimate start of the season against the Detroit Tigers. A mixed bag, maybe, but nothing to deter the belief that he could be a part of the White Sox rotation of the future. Over his final eight starts of the year, he had a 3.49 ERA with 56 strikeouts in 49 innings. Not bad.

The key part of that whole paragraph, though, is that he made only 12 starts in 2017, and that's where the concern comes in. He had two significant injuries last season, and the second of those could keep him shelved months into this season. It's a completely valid thing to wonder if Rodon is going to be healthy enough to be a part of that rotation of the future. He was back to throwing in the early days of spring training, and the White Sox have offered nothing to make one believe that Rodon will do anything but recover according to plan. But he'll still have to prove that he can stay healthy in 2018, whenever he gets back into games.

Because while Rodon was once — and still could be — considered the ace of that future rotation, there is a lot more competition for that title now than there was a year and a half ago. Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez are already at the major league level. Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning — all top-100 prospects in baseball, by the way — are advancing with their respective developments in the minors. Forget just being the ace of the rotation of the future, what about just getting a spot in it? Those are six names, one more than the traditional five-man rotation. Throw in Rodon, and you're at seven. If Carson Fulmer can figure things out, you're at eight. What if Spencer Adams or Ian Clarkin make a jump? The rotation of the future is crowded. And while Rodon will be given every opportunity to secure himself a spot, it's up to him to stay on the field long enough to do that.

And that's what 2018 will be for, whenever it finally gets started for Rodon.