White Sox

Chris Sale: All of Todd Frazier's hits are big for White Sox

Chris Sale: All of Todd Frazier's hits are big for White Sox

Chris Sale already has a solid book on Todd Frazier.

Over the weekend, the White Sox All-Star pitcher said that even though Frazier has struggled, he seems to have a knack for big moments.

Monday’s 12-inning 8-4 win over the Texas Rangers, when Frazier homered twice, including a go-ahead grand slam in the 12th, is the latest evidence produced by the White Sox third baseman in support of Sale’s theory. The White Sox improved to 23-10 and increased their lead in the American League Central to six games over the Cleveland Indians with the victory.

There’s no question Frazier would like to improve upon the .215/.290/.477 with 10 home runs and 27 RBIs in 145 plate appearances he has produced this season. His average is 40 points below his career .255 mark. But the hits he has had have already made a significant impact in White Sox victories.

“His bat might not be where he wants it to be, but he’s still coming up with big hits,” Sale said. “All of his hits that he’s gotten up to this point I feel like are at a big point in the game or a home run when we need it or an RBI when we really need it. That’s the key. Even when you’re not going good they figure it out.”

The White Sox figured Frazier would have to be a significant force if the club expected to rebound after three disappointing seasons.

They haven’t had a consistent third baseman since Joe Crede and tried out everybody and anybody to fill the vacancy. The club identified Frazier -- who blasted 64 homers the previous two seasons -- as a possible solution last season. They targeted the 2015 Home Run Derby champ as part of their offseason plan and in December sent Trayce Thompson, Frankie Montas and Micah Johnson to the Los Angeles Dodgers in order to acquire him from the Cincinnati Reds.

While he had gone hitless in May until he broke out in Saturday’s victory, Frazier has still found a way to impact the team’s games. His defense has been superb as is his leadership. On Saturday, manager Robin Ventura said he appreciated that Frazier’s struggles hadn’t carried over into the field. Frazier has produced three Defensive Runs Saved, which is tied for fourth among third baseman, according to fangraphs.com.

But his bat also has provided the team a big boost, too.

Frazier is tied for fifth in the majors in homers with 10.

The White Sox are 6-3 in games that Frazier homers. Five of Frazier’s round-trippers have put the White Sox in the lead and two others have tied a game.

He’s also driven in game-tying runs on April 9 and May 8 and put the White Sox ahead with a two-run double in the seventh inning of an April 25th victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.

So while the average isn’t quite where Frazier might like it, he has impressed Sale with how he’s found a way to make an impact.

“That’s the key to this game,” Sale said. “When you’re not at your best, you’re still producing and you’re still a big factor on this team like he is.”

Daily White Sox prospects update: Zack Collins hits a pair of homers

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NBC SPORTS CHICAGO

Daily White Sox prospects update: Zack Collins hits a pair of homers

Here's your daily update on what the White Sox highly touted prospects are doing in the minor leagues.

Double-A Birmingham

Zack Collins hit two home runs as part of a three-hit day. He drove in two runs, scored two runs and walked once in a 10-4 loss. Collins now has seven homers on the campaign with an ungodly .421 on-base percentage. He's batting .326 over his last 25 games. Eloy Jimenez had two hits and a walk, and Jordan Guerrero gave up four runs and walked five in four innings.

Class A Winston-Salem

The Dash lost both games of a doubleheader, 10-5 and 7-0. Luis Alexander Basabe, Alex Call and Gavin Sheets each picked up two hits on the day.

Triple-A Charlotte

Charlie Tilson had a hit and scored a run in a 2-1 loss.

Class A Kannapolis

Luis Gonzalez had a hit in a 2-1 win.

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.