White Sox

Carlos Rodon finishes 2015 strong as White Sox beat Yankees


Carlos Rodon finishes 2015 strong as White Sox beat Yankees

NEW YORK — His command was wobbly against the second-best offense in the majors as Carlos Rodon pitched for the first time at Yankee Stadium.

In spite of all of those challenges, the rookie continued an outstanding sprint to the finish on Friday night, leading the White Sox to a 5-2 victory over the New York Yankees. Even though he put 12 runners on base, Rodon only allowed two runs in six innings to win his third straight — and final — start of 2015. Mike Olt and Gordon Beckham homered off C.C. Sabathia in support of Rodon, who posted a 1.81 ERA over his last eight starts.

“He didn’t have his best control, but he learned how to get through it with a professional lineup,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “You have to be able to weasel your way out of some tough situations, and he did it. It wasn’t the prettiest he’s had. But you’re looking at a lineup that is a little bit older and has some savvy, and I thought he really bowed his neck and looked great.”

Nothing about Friday’s start — one Ventura confirmed would be the lefty’s last this season — was easy for Rodon aside from his first inning of work. He struck out two in the opening frame and retired Alex Rodriguez on a fly out to deep center.

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The Yankees — who on July 31 knocked Rodon out after three innings and eight runs — proceeded to make him work overtime the rest of the way. He hit a batter and walked one in both the second and third innings.

The fourth inning provided Rodon’s biggest test as he allowed a pair of tough-luck singles before Trayce Thompson made a fantastic catch in right for the first out. Rodon walked Rob Refsnyder to load the bases, and No. 9 hitter Didi Gregorious tied the game with a two-run single. Brett Gardner then singled to reload the bases, but Rodon induced an inning-ending double play off Chase Headley’s bat.

Rodon worked around a walk and a wild pitch in the fifth inning to preserve a 2-all tie. Then in the sixth, Refsnyder doubled and Gregorious walked with one out only to have Gardner hit into an inning-ending double play.

“It was definitely a little off,” Rodon said. “I was trying to get ahead. I was trying to pound the zone and make them swing the bat. It wasn’t happening like times before.

“Luckily, defensively we had guys behind me making plays.”

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Rodon gave up five hits, walked five, hit two and struck out four in six innings.

Since Aug. 5, Rodon allowed 38 hits, 13 runs (11 earned), walked 21 and struck out 49 in 54 2/3 innings. In the same span, Rodon lowered his earned-run average from 5.00 to 3.75.

“He’s come a long way since the start,” said closer David Robertson, who converted his 32nd save with a scoreless ninth inning. “I think he’s realizing now he doesn’t have to throw full speed all the time to get guys out in the big leagues, and I hope he continues on that path because he’s something special, this guy. He’s got exceptional stuff, and I think in the years coming he’s going to prove himself as one of the aces in this league.”

Rodon said he’s happy with the way he developed this season and feels much more comfortable in the clubhouse. One critical element in his ascent has been a reduced walk rate. After he walked 50 batters in his first 84 2/3 innings, Rodon only walked 21 in the last 54 2/3.

“There’s room to get better,” Rodon said. “You have an idea about what you have to do. I’ve been through it once here, so hopefully I feel more comfortable next year.”

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Ventura would agree with Rodon’s self-evaluation and is pleased with how his young charge handled himself. From a much-ballyhooed pitching prospect in spring, Ventura thinks Rodon has developed into just one of the guys as he has worked to prove himself over and over this season. The fourth-year manager is really impressed with how Rodon fared given he faced the Yankees, Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners and Cleveland Indians each two times in his final 10 starts.

“You’re impressed with what he’s done since he's been up here,” Ventura said. “He has learned a lot. He had a lot of things you would like to see him get in his first year in the big leagues. Finishing it off here against a team like this is something you want to see him do, especially after seeing him the first time, and it didn’t go so well.”

Rick Renteria voices frustration with Reynaldo Lopez during start in Detroit

Rick Renteria voices frustration with Reynaldo Lopez during start in Detroit

Reynaldo Lopez’s outing Sunday in Detroit didn’t get off to a good start and his performance led to a couple lengthy lectures from his manager.

After giving up a two-run home run in the first inning, Lopez allowed a leadoff single to Dawel Lugo in the second. White Sox manager Rick Renteria paid Lopez an early mound visit.

This wasn’t pitching coach Don Cooper going to the mound to talk to Lopez about mechanics or strategy on the next batter. Renteria walked up, looked Lopez straight in the eye and talked at him for 15 seconds without Lopez getting in a word. At one point in the interaction, Renteria appears to say "It's time to wake up."

MLB.com’s Scott Merkin asked Renteria about the mound visit after the game. If it wasn’t clearly apparent by watching the interaction, Renteria wasn’t pleased with Lopez.

Lopez threw over to first a couple times before getting behind 2-0 to the next batter, Grayson Greiner. Greiner grounded into a double play, but former White Sox infielder Gordon Beckham homered off Lopez right after that.

Lopez gave up another run in the third and Renteria again felt the need to lecture Lopez. This time it took place in the dugout.

With Lopez sitting in the dugout, a somewhat animated Renteria pointed to the 25-year-old’s chest multiple times. Lopez simply took it in and nodded. Watch this interaction and the mound visit in the video above.

Lopez came out for the fourth inning and gave up his fifth run. He was pulled before the start of the fifth. He gave up five runs on nine hits (three home runs) in four innings in a 6-3 White Sox loss.

Lopez has a 5.57 ERA on the season, which is a big drop off from his promising 3.91 ERA in 2018. Lopez was far from a finished product last year, but showed the potential to be a long-term piece in the White Sox rotation. Now? Not so much.

If Renteria’s words about making sure Lopez “was aware that he was actually pitching today” weren’t stern enough, he continued with a more general comment about the future of the White Sox.

If that wasn’t specifically directed to Lopez, it certainly applies to him. Lucas Giolito has established himself as a lock for the 2020 rotation. Dylan Cease will be given a chance to continue to improve. Michael Kopech is coming back from injury. The White Sox likely add a starting arm either via trade or free agency this offseason.

Lopez may not be a part of the future rotation and time to show he deserves a spot is running out.

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Eloy Jimenez reaches 30-home run mark in rookie season

Eloy Jimenez reaches 30-home run mark in rookie season

It took a couple months for Eloy Jimenez to get going in his rookie season, but the prized White Sox outfielder is meeting most reasonable expectations for his first year in the majors.

Jimenez smacked his 30th home run of the season Sunday in Detroit, which represents a notable round number milestone. Jimenez now has eight home runs in September and it’s only the 22nd of the month.

Jimenez launched a 2-0 slider to left center in his first at-bat to give the White Sox an early lead in Detroit.

A 30-home run season is a long way from the player Jimenez looked like in April and May. Entering June 1, the 22-year-old was hitting .220/.273/.390. He was struggling to lay off sliders out of the zone and looked a bit lost at the plate.

In June, Jimenez looked like the talented hitter the White Sox believed he was capable of becoming. He hit .284/.340/.602 with eight home runs, including a memorable go-ahead home run in Wrigley against the Cubs.

An injury playing the field in mid-July in Kansas City cost him a couple weeks and seemed to disrupt whatever rhythm he was building in June. This month, Jimenez is once again showing his elite potential. He won AL Player of the Week last week.

Jimenez’s overall numbers now have the look of a solid, promising, albeit still flawed rookie season. After Sunday, Jimenez is hitting .269/.318/.514. The power is there, but the batting average and walk rate are both lower than most expectations for him long-term. However, to put up an above average overall season at the plate as a rookie while dealing with two stints on the injured list is definitely a strong base to build from.

Expectations will be higher for Jimenez in 2020. Many will expect him to take a step towards becoming a middle of the order hitter for years to come. For now, it’s safe to look at Jimenez’s 30th home run as proof of a solid rookie campaign.

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