White Sox

Early-season strikeouts and Adam Dunn

733382.png

Early-season strikeouts and Adam Dunn

The glaring number from Friday's home opener victory against Max Scherzer and the Tigers is 15: the number of strikeouts by White Sox batters. The total pushed their season total to a bloated 57.

In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter, since they're 4-2. They're also forcing opposingteams to throw an average of 150.2 pitches per game, which is important. But just for fun, let's look at this list:

Most strikeouts (by batters) in first six games of season, White Sox history 1918-present:

YearTotalMain culprit
201257Adam Dunn (10)
199654Danny Tartbull (8)
198746Ron Karkovice (8)
200943Jim Thome (7)
199742Chris SnopekRay Durham (7)

Baseball-Reference.com's fantastic database only goes back to 1918, and judging from trends, I'm pretty comfortable in saying that the 57 is most likely the Sox franchise record through six games: from 1918 to 1933, they have averaged only 17.2 strikeouts in the season's first six games.

The strikeouts may seem alarming because over the last two seasons, the whiff totals had been fairly low. In 2011, the Sox had the second fewest in the AL; they along with the Rangers were the only teams with less than 1000. And in 2010, the Sox had the second fewest as well, with only the Royals going down swinging less often.

Dunn of course tends to get singled out again, getting his golden sombrero refitted for the 2012 season, but I'll write Friday off to facing Scherzer, possessor of one of baseball's most potent sliders. Dunn battled in every plate appearance, almost always working the count full before his strikeouts, and overall his vision at the plate looks considerably better this season.

Numerically, Dunn is seeing 5.42 pitches per plate appearance, easily the best in the AL. That's 141 pitches seen over 26 plate appearances. Perhaps I dwell on this number a bit much, but it sets off a chain reaction of good things. First, it forces the starter out early. Next it wears out a bullpen over the course of a series. When you're seeing the 11th and 12th best arms in an opponent's bullpen, that's a thing of importance, so do your thing, Canyonero.

Dunn strikeouts by count:

Count201120120-22701-24912-2
55
13-2468
Dunn strikeouts by number of pitches:

Pitches seen
2011 Ks
2012 Ks
325044105481634572218
4
2
931

White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED

0521-welington-castillo.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED

For the first time since new rules came into effect in 2005, the White Sox will reportedly see a major league player suspended for violating baseball’s ban on performance-enhancing drugs.

Welington Castillo, the team’s biggest offseason addition, will be suspended for 80 games, according to a pair of reports.

Manager Rick Renteria said after Wednesday's win over the visiting Baltimore Orioles that he couldn't comment on the reports. Castillo played in Wednesday's game, during which the news broke.

"For me, those at this particular moment are rumors," Renteria said. "MLB is the one that is in charge of that type of stuff. Until they release anything officially I can’t really comment on that."

The veteran catcher, slashing .267/.309/.466 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in 33 games this season, was brought in over the winter to help the rebuilding White Sox in both the short and long term. He had a career year offensively and defensively in 2017, and he was acquired to help develop a young pitching staff featuring big pieces of the future like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, and also to swing a solid bat and help this young team learn how to win.

If Castillo proves productive over the course of his two-year deal, the White Sox have a team option that could keep Castillo on the South Side for the 2020 season. That could make him a piece of the puzzle for when the rebuild reaches its apex and the team is ready to start contending for championships. But this news has the potential to change that dramatically.

Zack Collins and Seby Zavala are both having strong offensive seasons at Double-A Birmingham and figure to be the long-term answers behind the plate. But Castillo’s absence from any long-term picture could leave the White Sox without a veteran safety net in the years ahead, depending on how the team decides to react to this news now and in the coming seasons.

Castillo’s absence for the next 80 games could also have an impact on the development of aforementioned pitchers like Giolito and Lopez. Lopez, in particular, has been throwing really well this season, and Giolito has control issues to work through, as he leads the American League in walks. Without the veteran catcher brought in to help those guys transition to the major league level, how will the transition change for those two pitchers?

Omar Narvaez would be the logical choice to take over as the No. 1 catcher. As for who could take Castillo's place on the major league roster, the options are limited. Kevan Smith, who was edged out by Narvaez for the backup-catching job in spring training, is on the disabled list at Triple-A Charlotte, placed there Tuesday. The aforementioned Zavala is also injured at Double-A Birmingham, and it seems far too early to rush Collins to the big leagues. Alfredo Gonzalez is a catcher on the roster at Charlotte. A spot on the 40-man roster would need to be freed up to bring him to Chicago.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

rick_hahn_usa_today.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

SportsTalk Live is on location for White Sox Authentic Fan Night. Phil Rogers (MLB Network), Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David DeJesus and Ozzie Guillen join Kap to talk about Manny Machado Mania, Anthony Rizzo’s struggles and the White Sox plans for calling up their best prospects. 

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: