White Sox

Chris Sale is going to be just fine

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Chris Sale is going to be just fine

With seven strikeouts and no walks in six innings of work Thursday against Los Angeles, Chris Sale's Cactus League strikeout-to-walk ratio sits at an eye-popping 22-2 in 24 innings of work.

You didn't misread that. For every walk Sale issues, he's struck out 11 opponents. That, to say the least, bodes well for his future as a starter.

There have been plenty of reasons thrown out there about why Sale shouldn't be a starter. He was too good as a reliever. His mechanics don't translate to a larger workload. The Sox need a closer. His motion will make him easier to hit multiple times through a lineup. And so on. None of them were particularly convincing, at least to this writer.

Just a good season out of Sale the starter would be worth much more to the White Sox than a great season out of Sale the reliever. The Sox haven't named a closer yet -- and Don Cooper said on Comcast SportsNet's broadcast of Thursday's game they won't publicly name one any time soon -- but that doesn't mean Matt Thornton, Addison Reed, Jesse Crain or even Hector Santiago are bad options.

Sale's motion may not be ideal for starting, sure. But it's not like his mechanics are guaranteed to land him on the disabled list. And as long as his changeup is working, he'll have no problems retiring righties, even with his three-quarters motion.

The amount of hits Sale has allowed this spring (24, an average of one per inning) isn't too concerning, either. Remember, Sale hasn't started in about two years. He has plenty of kinks to work out, and it's fine that he's working them out in March. The four home runs he's allowed are a little more of a worry, but until he starts allowing clouts at such a high rate in the regular season, hand-wringing should be avoided.

It's hard to see Sale's move to the rotation as being disastrous, barring injury. He's too talented for it to be a nightmare, as we saw Thursday. Maybe Sale won't be an ace this year, but he very well could take the first step toward that designation in 2012.

James McCann leads charge for White Sox in running for starting spots in MLB All-Star Game

James McCann leads charge for White Sox in running for starting spots in MLB All-Star Game

Major League Baseball released a second voting update for All-Star Game starters and three White Sox players are still in the mix.

The top three spots at each position (and top nine in the outfield) are all that matter for now, with those players advancing to MLB’s new Starters Election. James McCann is the only member of the White Sox to sit in one of those spots for now.

McCann is second at catcher behind Gary Sanchez of the Yankees. He is nearly 800,000 votes behind the Yankees backstop.

Jose Abreu was in third in the last update at first base, but has fallen behind Carlos Santana of the Indians. Luke Volt, another Yankee, leads with C.J. Cron of the Twins in second. Santana is just under 43,000 votes ahead of Abreu.

Tim Anderson is still in fourth at shortstop. Jorge Polanco of the Twins and Carlos Correa of the Astros are comfortably in the top two spots. Gleyber Torres, yet another Yankee, is just over 45,000 votes ahead of Anderson for third.

There aren’t any other White Sox within striking distance of the top three. Yoan Moncada remains in eighth among third basemen.

Polls close Friday at 3 p.m. CT.

 

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Breaking down Eloy Jimenez's improvement

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USA TODAY

Breaking down Eloy Jimenez's improvement

When Eloy Jiménez returned from the Injured List in late May and rejoined the White Sox lineup, he went on the road to Houston and Minnesota and he struggled to the tune of a .148 batting average and .148 on-base percentage, with four hits (three went over the fence), 11 strikeouts and no walks.

For the season, his slashline was .217/.259/.406 with five walks and 36 strikeouts. He was swinging at 49.8 percent of all the pitches he saw (a bit above the 46.7 percent league average); he was swinging at 38.8 percent of pitches outside the zone (quite a bit above the 30.9 percent league average).

He returned to the comfort of Guaranteed Rate Field on May 27 and took a pair of walks. From that point forward, things started to look a lot better… and the results were in line with that observation.

Eloy Jiménez this season:

  PA AVG OBP SLG BB K Swing % Outside zone swing %
Through May 26 112 ,217 .259 .406 5 36 49.8 38.8
Since May 27 71 .297 .366 .594 7 18 45.9 30.8

Not only has he improved quite a bit, but that 30.8 outside the zone swing percentage is second only to Yonder Alonso’s 29.9 percent mark among White Sox with at least 40 plate appearances since May 27. Jiménez hasn’t been chasing nearly as many bad pitches lately.

Those pitches he has been laying off of have for the most part been the low and away stuff, as indicated by his swing charts below. First, his swing rates before getting hurt and then since he came back from injury.

These charts are from the catcher’s perspective, and from what you can see, he has done a much better job of laying off the low and away pitches. Look at the three zones furthest low and away. There’s a big difference.

Start of the year through May 26:

Since May 27:

Through May 26 he swung at 33.8 percent of pitches (51 of 151)  low and away and out of the zone. Since May 27 he has swung at 14.5 percent of those pitches (10 of 69).

It’s only an 18-game sample, so there will certainly be more adjustments made to combat Jiménez, but I believe we’re watching Eloy begin to mature into the middle of the order force as he was advertised.

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