Bears

Blackhawks breakdown: Brandon Bollig

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Blackhawks breakdown: Brandon Bollig

After making his NHL debut on Feb. 29, Brandon Bollig would average just under six minutes per game in 18 games. He didn't record a single point during the regular season, finishing minus-2 while delivering 27 hits and racking up 58 penalty minutes. He played in four of the six games vs. the Coyotes where he scored his first goal in Game 2. He was credited with five hits in the series and was tagged with 19 penalty minutes.
Boden's take: The Blackhawks got an overall upgrade when John Scott was dealt to the New York Rangers for a fifth-round draft pick at the trade deadline. Bollig may not have put the same fear factor into the opposition's thoughts for taking liberties with the Hawks' stars, but he got into more fights than Scott would have, as a result. And boy was the St. Louis native willing, getting into five fights in his first seven games. He was a better skater than Scott, and even had a handful of scoring chances, too. He finally collected his first NHL point with his goal in Game 2 of the Phoenix playoff series.
Myers' take: When the Blackhawks bid adieu to Scott, Bollig became the natural call-up. While Bollig isnt quite as big as Scott (then again, who is), he filled that role just fine. He was a solid skater, scored a goal, and, yeah he fought. A lot. And while Bollig was always the pugilist with a smile on his face, he put some serious hurts on a few opponents. His role obviously diminished as the postseason went on fighting just wasnt a big part of the playoffs outside of that Pittsburgh-Philadelphia series but Bollig gave the Blackhawks the big, bruising player who wasnt afraid to tussle.

2012-13 Expectations

Boden: The Hawks signed him as an undrafted free agent two years ago, and he enters this offseason as a restricted free agent. He would be a good investment on a two-way contract to have in reserve at Rockford if he doesn't find a one-way deal anywhere. But if Mayers, Andrew Shaw and Daniel Carcillo are on this club, and especially if a nasty, sizeable defenseman is acquired, one wonders where it would leave Bollig in the numbers game here for what he offers. As constituted now, the roster competition for one forward spot on the four lines is already between Jimmy Hayes, Michael Frolik, Brandon Saad, Jeremy Morin and Ben Smith.

Myers: Bollig got a nice introduction to the NHL and did what he was supposed to do: defend teammates or get them going with a brawl. Will he start next season with the big club? That depends on a few things. One is how he does in training camp. The other is what kind of players the Blackhawks are looking to acquire this summer. Bollig is young, big and willing to take the punches for his team. He should at least get a serious look if he has a good camp.

How do you feel about this evaluation? As always, be sure to chime in with your thoughts by commenting below and check out highlights of Bollig above.

Up next: Andrew Shaw

Are expectations too high for Bears WR Allen Robinson?

Are expectations too high for Bears WR Allen Robinson?

Allen Robinson was signed in free agency to become the alpha dog of the Chicago Bears' wide receiver corps. The three-year, $42 million contract that general manager Ryan Pace signed him to is proof of how high expectations are for the fifth-year pro.

Robinson isn't coming to Chicago with a flawless resume, however. His massive breakout year in 2015 (1,400 yards, 14 touchdowns) was followed by a pedestrian 883 yards in 2016 and a torn ACL in Week 1 last year. That begs the question: Is the forecast for Robinson's impact in 2018 too high right now?

According to Bleacher Report's Doug Farrar, the answer is yes. Robinson was named as the Bear most likely to disappoint this season.

Robinson practiced for the first time since the injury during the Bears' May minicamp, but it's safe to say Chicago isn't sure what it has in Robinson. If he gets back to his 2015 numbers, that would be huge for the Bears' passing offense, but given his 2016 regression and the specter of the 2017 injury, that's a tough bet.

Robinson will have an impact that goes beyond the traditional box score, and it will happen this season. Is he a lock to reach 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdowns? No, but his presence on the field will be enough to see a return on investment. The Bears haven't had the kind of threat he poses to defenses in several seasons, and his ability to pull a defensive coordinator's attention away from the running game will do wonders for Chicago's offensive output.

Determining whether Robinson is a disappointment in 2018 will depend on who's evaluating his season. Sure, he may disappoint in fantasy football circles if he doesn't re-emerge as a game-changing stat monster. But if he makes the Bears offense a more well-rounded and productive group, he'll live up to the expectations set by Pace and coach Matt Nagy.

As long as Robinson is pleasing Pace and Nagy, nothing else really matters.

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

As encouraging as the reports are on many of the White Sox’s minor-league pitching prospects, Carlos Rodon’s effort against the Athletics on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field could prove just as significant to the rebuild on the South Side.

Looking much like the ace the Sox envisioned prior to Rodon’s rough 2017 season that ended with shoulder surgery, the left-hander put together his most successful effort of ’18 during a 10-3 drubbing of the Athletics before a sun-drenched crowd of 21,908.

Making his fourth start of the season, Rodon matched a career-high by going eight innings. He yielded two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Rodon earned his first win of the season to help the Sox salvage a split of the four-game series.

“I felt good today—a lot of strikes,” Rodon said. “It was good to go eight and just be ahead of guys.”

Helping matters for Rodon was an offensive explosion by the Sox, led by Yoan Moncada’s career-high six RBIs. After falling behind 2-0, the Sox plated five runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings as Moncada cleared the bases with a double off the base of the wall in the fifth and launched his 10th home run of the season to drive in three more an inning later.

“Today was a great day,” Moncada said via a team interpreter. “I just went out to play the game the way that I play. Just to have fun. It was a very good game for me.”

Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sanchez also homered as the Sox won for just the second time in their last 11 games.

Rodon was the happy recipient of the run support to win his first game since Aug. 21, 2017, against the Twins. On Sunday, he threw 99 pitches, 69 for strikes and was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

“I’m looking to do that every time out,” Rodon said. “Just show up and establish the strike zone with the fastball and be aggressive.”

The 25-year-old’s second-inning strikeout of Khris Davis was the 400th of Rodon’s career. It is a career that is continuing after a surgery that was a setback, but one that did not derail Rodon’s confidence that he would again pitch effectively.

“There are up-and-down days when you go through shoulder surgery or any surgery for any player,” Rodon said. “You've just got to work through it and try to make your way back. I'm here now and it’s looking up and I’m trying to get better.”

So is it reasonable to view Rodon as the future ace after all?

“You certainly can’t discount that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He has to go out there and continue to get his feet underneath him and get through the rest of the season healthy and climbing.”

In other Sox pitching news, Renteria said starter Dylan Covey, who was removed in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game due to a hip flexor injury, “felt better” Sunday and the team will continue to monitor the right-hander’s progress.

Meanwhile, veteran Miguel Gonzalez made a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte as he continues to recover from inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Gonzalez went three innings and allowed one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez belted his first homer for the Knights in the game.