Reynaldo Lopez

Wrapping up a wacky week in Chicago baseball

kamka_april_23.jpg
USA TODAY

Wrapping up a wacky week in Chicago baseball

Welcome to “Who Knew?”, a weekly roundup of fun statistical oddities and fun facts in Chicago Baseball. Every Monday, I'll dig into the previous week’s games (Monday-Sunday) to present a collection of things you may not have noticed and answers to questions you may have never thought to ask.   Let’s get started!

Double Digit Delight

Monday at Oakland, Reynaldo López recorded ten punchouts, the first 10+ K game by a White Sox pitcher this season. Prior to López, the last Sox hurler to reach double-digits was Lucas Giolito back on Sept. 3, 2016 against the Rays.

So, as it stands, the last two White Sox 10+ K games were by pitchers acquired in the same Dec. 7, 2016 trade:

Reynaldo López, Lucas Giolito & Dane Dunning acquired from Nationals for Adam Eaton.

Also interesting about the López & Giolito games – each of the last two 10+ K games by White Sox pitchers have been by righties. Prior to Giolito, each of the Sox’ previous 48 10+ K games had been by southpaws (all by Sale, Danks, Quintana and Rodón). The previous 10+ K game by a White Sox righty had been Jake Peavy April 14, 2013.

(Un)Lucky Seven?

Tuesday at Wrigley Field, Tyler Chatwood posted a rare statline:

4.2 IP, one hit, two runs, seven walks, seven strikeouts.

It was a fairly good job of damage control, all things considered. And it was the first time a Cubs pitcher posted seven-plus walks and seven-plus strikeouts since Kerry Wood did it twice – two months apart – in 2001. 

But Chatwood did it while allowing only one hit. The last time a Cubs pitcher allowed seven-plus walks and seven-plus strikeouts with one or fewer hits allowed? 

Burt Hooton’s no-hitter (with seven walks and seven strikeouts) April 16, 1972.

Go On, Yoán

Wednesday was another wild one at the Oakland Coliseum. The White Sox used 10 pitchers in a game for the first time in their 118-year history, but let’s focus on Yoán Moncada.

It was his second game in a row with a home run and a stolen base, something no White Sox player had accomplished two games in a row since Ray Durham in September 1998.

Furthermore, Moncada’s home run on Wednesday was a grand alam.  At age 22 years, 326 days, he is the youngest Sox player to hit a 4-run 4-bagger since Kevin Bell (20 years, 345 days) on June 22, 1976. But since Bell’s was an inside-the-park home run (and the first homer of his career), you could go even further back and say Moncada is the youngest Sox player to hit a grand slam over the fence since Carlos May (age 21 years, 16 days) on June 2, 1969.

Overall, he’s the fifth youngest player in White Sox history to hit a grand slam.

20 years, 198 days Johnny Callison September 26, 1959 at Detroit
20 years, 345 days        Kevin Bell   June 22, 1976 at Kansas City
21 years, 16 days   Carlos May    June 2, 1969 at Boston
22 years, 115 days      Bibb Falk May 22, 1921 vs Washington
22 years, 326 days Yoán Moncada April 18, 2018 at Oakland
22 years, 331 days    Carlos Lee May 17, 1999 vs Cleveland (off Bartolo Colón!)

Double Duty

Friday, James Shields started the game after relieving in the 14th inning of the previous game.

He was the first White Sox pitcher to start:

  • after relieving the previous game since Matt Albers on July 23, 2016
  • after relieving and finishing the previous game since Gene Nelson April 29, 1986
  • after relieving the previous game with a decision in both since Tom Seaver May 9, 1984

       (Seaver earned a Win in the completion of a 25 inning marathon prior to his win in the May 9 start) 

Thanks to STATS LLC for the Nelson/Seaver notes.

Big start for Báez

166 players have at least 15 hits this season (entering Monday, April 23).

Of those 166, here are the highest percentage of extra-base hits:

Player Hits Extra Base Hits Percent
Javier Báez 21 15 71.4 percent
A.J. Pollock  20  14 70 percent
Eric Thames  15 10 66.7 percent
Gregory Polanco      15 10 66.7 percent
Didi Gregorius  22 14 63.6 percent

The extra-base output for Báez isn’t just confined to home runs. He has seven home runs and three triples through the Cubs’ first 19 games this season.

Through the team’s first 19 games of a season:

He’s the first Cub to have three triples and three home runs since Ernie Banks (three of each) in 1964

He’s the first Cub to have three triples and six home runs since Andy Pafko (three triples, six home runs) in 1951

He’s the ONLY Cub to have three triples and seven home runs since at least 1900!

His 23 RBI is the highest total by a Cub since Billy Williams (26) in 1970

Two of a kind

On Sunday, José Quintana became the first Colombian-born pitcher to reach 1,000 career strikeouts. Next to do it will most likely be the Braves’ Julio Teherán.  But take a minute to compare the two pitchers:

José Quintana 1,004 strikeouts 59 career wins Career 3.60 ERA MLB Debut: May 7, 2012
Julio Teherán 887 strikeouts 59 career wins Career 3.60 ERA MLB Debut: May 7, 2011

Going Forward

The Cubs are 10-9 this season and have been 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, and 9-9.  Back in 2011, they continued the pattern all the way to 10-10.

That’s as far as they have ever gone, and they have been in the National League since 1876.  We’ll keep our eyes out for that. 

Until next week…

Reynaldo Lopez, for better or for worse, is doing one heck of a Jose Quintana impression for the White Sox

0422-reynaldo-lopez.jpg
USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez, for better or for worse, is doing one heck of a Jose Quintana impression for the White Sox

Darrell Hammond does a great Bill Clinton. Will Ferrell does a great George W. Bush. And Reynaldo Lopez does a great Jose Quintana.

Lopez obviously isn’t trying to impersonate the former White Sox starting pitcher now throwing on the North Side of town, but the resemblance, at least in the box score, has been uncanny through Lopez’s first four outings of the 2018 season — for better or for worse.

The better is what’s most promising for the rebuilding White Sox. Quintana was an All-Star pitcher before he was shipped to the Cubs in last summer’s crosstown swap. Maybe Lopez could earn similar recognition this summer, as there’s little argument that he’s been the White Sox best pitcher in the early going this season.

He dropped his ERA to 1.50 with five innings of one-run ball Sunday. That sparkling ERA, one of the 10 lowest among American League starting pitchers, comes from allowing just four earned runs in 25 innings of work. His strikeout-to-walk ratio could use some improvement, with 23 punch outs and 15 free passes on the year.

Sunday was more of the good stuff, with the visiting Houston Astros — the defending champs, mind you — doing little damage on the scoreboard against Lopez, even though he put a bunch of guys on base, including four via the walk. It’s quite impressive considering what the same lineup did to his teammates in the two days prior, scoring seven runs against James Shields on Friday and nine against Lucas Giolito on Saturday. Lopez also admitted he had a pretty nasty stomachache that he pitched through Sunday.

“I feel good about my performance today," Lopez said. "I wasn’t feeling very good physically, have a stomachache. But I felt good during the game. My focus was just to try to get guys out, and I think in that manner, it was good.”

But in true Quintanian fashion, Lopez received just one run of support and remains winless on the campaign despite four very solid performances. Sunday, Lopez left with the score tied at 1. The White Sox ended up losing 7-1 in the third of three blowout losses this weekend to one of the best teams in the game.

Quintana, perhaps even more than for his pitching prowess, was known for his ridiculously bad luck when it came to run support. It’s why he didn’t rack up way more wins than he should have during his time on the South Side and perhaps why he didn’t get the same recognition as his fellow All-Star rotation-mate Chris Sale.

Unfortunately for Lopez, he’s following a similar trend.

In the four games Lopez has started this season, the White Sox have scored a total of four runs. And last year wasn’t much better while he was on the mound. He logged quality starts in three of his first four outings after coming up from Triple-A in mid August but didn’t get his first win with the White Sox until his fifth start. He won just three games despite recording quality starts in five of his eight outings.

None of this means Lopez won’t start racking up wins once the White Sox reach the apex of their rebuilding effort and plan on being perennial contenders. When players like Eloy Jimenez, Micker Adolfo, Luis Robert, Luis Alexander Basabe and more join this lineup, the run-support issue might not be an issue at all. Heck, that can all change long before those guys get to the South Side.

Right now, the White Sox have to be thrilled about what they’re seeing from Lopez, who along with Giolito came into the 2018 season as a young pitcher expected to make strides in his development at the major league level. While Giolito has struggled at the outset of the campaign, Lopez has done the opposite.

“It’s impressive for anyone, and in particular against a club like this that he faced today,” manager Rick Renteria said. “At the end of the day, it’s about execution and performance, and today he executed well enough to contain them to one run through five innings. He kept us in the ballgame.”

The rotation of the future is a crowded one, with Lopez, Giolito, Carson Fulmer, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Dylan Cease and Dane Dunning all battling for spots. Lopez has plenty of time to make his case, though he’s off to a great start in doing so.

“I’m always trying to improve, I’m always trying to make adjustments,” he said. “If I had a good outing, what I did in that outing, what I can do better for the next one. I’m always trying to improve and to find ways to get better. I think that’s the only way that you can be successful at this level.”

Along with Cy Young winners, World Series champs and Chris Sale, Reynaldo Lopez has been one of the American League's best starting pitchers

0417_reynaldo_lopez.jpg
USA TODAY

Along with Cy Young winners, World Series champs and Chris Sale, Reynaldo Lopez has been one of the American League's best starting pitchers

The jury is still out on whether Reynaldo Lopez is the new Jose Quintana from a run-support perspective. But from a "one of the best pitchers in the American League" standpoint, yeah, maybe Lopez is on to something.

It's obviously very early, but through the season's first three weeks, Lopez — despite the fact that he's yet to win a game — has been one of the Junior Circuit's best starting pitchers.

After Monday night's performance in Oakland, an ugly game for the White Sox in which he was the lone bright spot, Lopez has a 1.42 ERA and 21 strikeouts, numbers that rank 11th and 16th, respectively, among AL starters. Only seven pitchers rank in the top 16 in both categories: Justin Verlander, Charlie Morton, Gerrit Cole, Chris Sale, Corey Kluber, Dylan Bundy and Lopez. That's pretty fantastic company to be in for 24-year-old whose most recent start was just the 17th of his major league career.

Monday, Lopez issued four walks and allowed a season-high two runs, but he struck out 10 batters (also a season-high) while keeping the offensively challenged White Sox in a position to come back and win the game. They didn't, committing four errors and almost getting shut out. But Lopez added a third strong start in three tries to his 2018 season.

Lopez has flashed plenty of strikeout stuff in his brief big league career. His career high is 11 Ks, recorded in his fourth career start with the Washington Nationals in 2016. His major league debut featured nine strikeouts. And last season in his eight starts with the White Sox, he had four games of six or more strikeouts.

Of course, and this is where the ol' Quintana luck comes in, the White Sox are 0-3 in the three games Lopez has started this year. They've scored a total of three runs in those games and just one while Lopez has been pitching. Of the pitchers mentioned with Lopez above, only Bundy can claim similar bad luck: He's 0-2 in his four starts.

Lopez has easily been the best starting pitcher on this White Sox team in the early going. He's also been one of the best starting pitchers in the league.