White Sox

Danny Duffy dominates as White Sox can’t support Jose Quintana

Danny Duffy dominates as White Sox can’t support Jose Quintana

Despite taking the field on a warm afternoon with conditions conducive to hitting, the White Sox could only futilely flail away at their defending World Series champion opponents.

Jose Quintana lost his sixth straight game as the White Sox fell, 4-1, to the Kansas City Royals Saturday afternoon in front of 31,183 at U.S. Cellular Field. It was another start for the 27-year-old left-hander that featured a head-scratching lack of run support.

Kansas City left-hander Danny Duffy dominated over his six innings of work, littering the box score with K’s as he racked up a career high 10 strikeouts. The only White Sox run came when Avisail Garcia flipped an RBI single to right with two outs on the ninth.

The White Sox failed to capitalize in the first inning against Duffy, when Adam Eaton walked and Jose Abreu singled to begin the game. Melky Cabrera then decided on his own put down a bunt — seemingly to get a hit, as he tried to push it past Duffy to the right side — but was unsuccessful at reaching base. Todd Frazier struck out and Brett Lawrie flied out to end the threat.

“(Duffy’s) really become effective with his changeup,” manager Robin Ventura said. “He's always had a good curveball but the changeup, especially today, I think is the best we've seen him. With the conditions today and not being able to get anything in the air and not really getting anything hard off him, that first inning, we had a shot there and he snuffed that out. After that he was in control.”

Frazier absorbed responsibility for not bringing in a run in that situation, which he said could’ve changed the complexion of the afternoon.

“(It) takes one pitch, one at-bat to change the whole outcome of the game,” Frazier said. “For me, the first inning was big. That changed everything.”

The White Sox didn’t record a baserunner after Frazier walked in the third inning until his one-out single in the ninth — a stretch of 17 consecutive outs. The White Sox finished the afternoon with 13 strikeouts, one short of a season-high set June 1 against the New York Mets.

The Royals made Quintana pay for a handful of mistakes, with Cheslor Cuthbert belting solo home runs in the third and eighth innings and Kendrys Morales ripping a solo homer in the right field bullpen in the fifth. Those were half the hits recorded by Kansas City, though, and Quintana finished his eight innings with 10 strikeouts and no walks.

The White Sox haven’t scored more than three runs in any of Quintana’s 17 losses since the beginning of the 2015 season and scored one or fewer for the 13th time.

“Everyone in this clubhouse feels awful when we can’t produce for him,” Eaton said. “Just in general our offense hasn’t been that lively here lately. So that has something to do with it as well. But we gotta get going offensively. We really do. It’s been stagnant on the basepaths. You don’t even have an effective at-bat, top to bottom, it hasn’t been there. Our pitching staff has been giving us good outings, so we gotta step it up offensively.”

Right-hander Tyler Danish made his major league debut in the ninth and allowed a run on a walk and two hits in two-thirds of an inning.

The White Sox still haven’t won three games in a row in over a month (the last was May 7-9), while Kansas City ended and eight-game losing streak on Saturday. 

White Sox Talk Podcast: Future looking bright for White Sox rotation

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USA Today

White Sox Talk Podcast: Future looking bright for White Sox rotation

Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber take a look at the young guns in the White Sox starting rotation (Giolito, Lopez and Cease) who are coming off their best week together as a trio and why they are excited about the future (1:00). Ivan Nova has a lower ERA than some of the best pitchers in baseball. Seriously. (5:20). The competition going on behind the scenes with the starting rotation (6:40). What will the rotation look like in 2020? (13:00) and more.

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 

White Sox Talk Podcast

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With young arms dealing, Reynaldo Lopez sets high expectations for White Sox rotation in 2020

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USA TODAY

With young arms dealing, Reynaldo Lopez sets high expectations for White Sox rotation in 2020

The White Sox starting rotation of the future won’t be complete until Michael Kopech returns from Tommy John surgery. It won’t be complete until Rick Hahn’s front office is done shopping this winter.

But what the team’s young pitchers, the ones throwing right now at the major league level, have done of late has to have everyone feeling good about the starting staff’s prospects in 2020.

Lucas Giolito called his most recent outing, a shutout of the high-powered Minnesota Twins, the “best I’ve ever felt pitching in my life.” Dylan Cease settled down nicely after some early struggles against the Texas Rangers on Friday and called his performance the best he’s had as a big leaguer. Reynaldo Lopez had to leave Sunday’s outing after just five innings, his days-old sickness a little too much to handle, but he didn’t allow a single hit before his departure.

All in all — and that includes recent strong showings from veterans Ivan Nova and Ross Detwiler, too — the rotation has a 2.09 ERA in the last seven games, five of which have ended in White Sox victories.

“We’re excited,” Lopez said through team interpreter Billy Russo after Sunday’s game. “This is a very, very exciting moment for all of us and for the organization.

“I think the expectations that you can have right now and that we have right now for the future are really, really high because we all know what we’re capable of doing. And if we’re just doing it right now, then it’s going to be just part of the process, just continuing doing what we’re doing right now.

“The learning process for all of us, for the young guys, has been outstanding. I think all of us have been learning a lot outing by outing and just putting those lessons on the field, too. It’s not just learning and, ‘OK, yes, learning this today and going to apply it in a week.’ No, you need to apply it right away and we’ve been doing that.

“I think you can see the results and for us as a group, it’s a very good moment.”

To those not so sure, there are perfectly valid reasons to be skeptical about the makeup of the 2020 rotation.

Lopez has been terrific since the All-Star break, his second-half ERA down to 2.82 after the five scoreless innings Sunday, but that doesn’t erase the woeful 6.34 number he had in the first half.

Cease has shown what everyone, including manager Rick Renteria, calls “electric stuff,” but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s got a 5.76 ERA and has allowed a homer in all nine starts he’s made since his promotion.

Giolito has been an ace but will have to show that his transformation from the guy who gave up more earned runs than any pitcher in baseball in 2018 into an All Star is permanent.

Kopech’s next start will be just his fifth as a big leaguer and will come, at the earliest, nearly 19 months after his fourth. And while the White Sox remain confident, there’s no telling, until we see him in action, what kind of pitcher he is following the surgery.

And though Hahn has pledged aggressiveness this offseason, we don’t know what kind of pitcher the White Sox will be able to add this winter.

But all that can be effectively countered by what’s happening right now before our eyes.

“They continue to mature, grow, learn,” Renteria said. “It's not necessarily the outcomes, even though you want those good outcomes to occur. It's what they're feeling in terms of what they believe they're capable of doing in certain moments. They're starting to trust themselves a little bit more and able to execute and get through games.”

No matter what the White Sox front office does this offseason, it figures to have four 2020 rotation spots spoken for: Giolito, Lopez, Cease and Kopech. That’s 80 percent of a rotation made up of homegrown arms, or if you’re a stickler on the definition of “homegrown,” guys acquired in those rebuild-jumpstarting trades in 2016 and 2017.

With Giolito and Lopez dealing of late and Cease getting positive reviews while going through his learning process in his first taste of the major leagues, Lopez’s words ring true. There should be excitement and high expectations for next season. These young arms and what they’re doing right now, not hypothetically but in reality, is part of what makes a transition from rebuilding to contending in 2020 look possible.

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