White Sox

Fantasy baseball: Velocity check AL Central

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Fantasy baseball: Velocity check AL Central

Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011
Posted: 8:50 p.m.

By Hamilton Bolduc
CSNChicago.com

Thanks to our friends at Fangraphs.com we have the statistical analysis to delve into the value of baseballs hardest throwers. This week were checking out the AL Central.

The division is home to the ALs hardest throwing starter and reliever. The AL Central also sports some of the biggest uncertainties in fantasy baseball and offers two bad hitting teams to boost pitching stats in intradivisional matchups. You'll want your pitchers this year to get as many meetings against the Royals and Indians as possible.

Twins

Starter Francisco Liriano (93.7): Lirianos velocity has steadily climbed since having Tommy John surgery, leading to an increase in his K9 to 9.44 from 7.93 pre-surgery. This season he looks to clear another hurdle the 200-inning mark. He may never be 2006 filthy again, but hell still be a top starter in the AL.

Reliever Matt Capps (94.0): Capps enters the season as the leading candidate to close for the Twins, but much depends on the health of long-time closer Joe Nathan (Tommy John surgery). A healthy Nathan likely makes Capps the setup guy.

TigersStarter Justin Verlander (95.4): Verlanders heat knows no limits. Hes been known to touch the high 90s late into games and is by far the divisions, and baseballs, hardest throwing starter. Verlander has started at least 30 games each year of his career and has topped 200 innings without fail since 2007. Last seasons average velocity and innings pitched were the second highest of his career.

Reliever Joel Zumaya (99.3): None throw harder than Zumaya, but few are as fragile. His rookie season 62 games, 83.1 IP, 6-3, 1 SV, 1.94 ERA, 97 K positioned him to for a meteoric ascension to closer stardom. Last season looked like Zumayas bounce-back year until the horrific fractured right elbow. He may throw too hard for his own good.

White SoxStarter Gavin Floyd (92.4): Hes not overpowering, but he sometimes show 2008 form (17-8, 3.84 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 206.1 IP), though it consistency alludes him. His K-rate trails his velocity.

Reliever Matt Thornton (96.1): After years of toying with idea of replacing Bobby Jenks, the White Sox brass has finally red-lighted the Matt Thornton Era. Last season was as good as a reliever can be and well finally get to see Thorton have a chance to become a top closer.

RoyalsStarter Kyle Davies (92.6): Kansas Citys acquisition of Jeff Francis means that Davies wont be expected to be the ace of the Royals new staff. But expect Davies to pile up the innings to take the stress of the bullpen. So 200-innings isnt out of the question (183.1 IP was his previous high), but they're unlikely to be of high quality

Reliever Blake Wood (95.4): In Woods first campaign in the majors, he struggled on the road (1.004 OPS allowed). If you cant get Soria, you best stay away from Royals relievers this season.

IndiansStarter Fausto Carmona (92.6): Many believe he peaked in 2007, but last season was his strongest since (13-14, 3.77 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 210.1 IP). It may not mean much if the Indians do little to support their ace. A fantasy owners best hope is that Cleveland keeps the fire sale going and ships Carmona to a contender.

Reliever Chris Perez (94.6): Perez had an outstanding season as a closer (2-2, 23 SV, 1.71 ERA, 1.08 WHIP) and that figures to continue. Of course the concern with playing on a sub-.500 team is the lack of opportunities. But there's a poor correlation between team wins and save opportunities, so Perez can easily out-perform his price as a second- or third-tier closer.

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

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USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

As encouraging as the reports are on many of the White Sox’s minor-league pitching prospects, Carlos Rodon’s effort against the Athletics on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field could prove just as significant to the rebuild on the South Side.

Looking much like the ace the Sox envisioned prior to Rodon’s rough 2017 season that ended with shoulder surgery, the left-hander put together his most successful effort of ’18 during a 10-3 drubbing of the Athletics before a sun-drenched crowd of 21,908.

Making his fourth start of the season, Rodon matched a career-high by going eight innings. He yielded two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Rodon earned his first win of the season to help the Sox salvage a split of the four-game series.

“I felt good today—a lot of strikes,” Rodon said. “It was good to go eight and just be ahead of guys.”

Helping matters for Rodon was an offensive explosion by the Sox, led by Yoan Moncada’s career-high six RBIs. After falling behind 2-0, the Sox plated five runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings as Moncada cleared the bases with a double off the base of the wall in the fifth and launched his 10th home run of the season to drive in three more an inning later.

“Today was a great day,” Moncada said via a team interpreter. “I just went out to play the game the way that I play. Just to have fun. It was a very good game for me.”

Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sanchez also homered as the Sox won for just the second time in their last 11 games.

Rodon was the happy recipient of the run support to win his first game since Aug. 21, 2017, against the Twins. On Sunday, he threw 99 pitches, 69 for strikes and was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

“I’m looking to do that every time out,” Rodon said. “Just show up and establish the strike zone with the fastball and be aggressive.”

The 25-year-old’s second-inning strikeout of Khris Davis was the 400th of Rodon’s career. It is a career that is continuing after a surgery that was a setback, but one that did not derail Rodon’s confidence that he would again pitch effectively.

“There are up-and-down days when you go through shoulder surgery or any surgery for any player,” Rodon said. “You've just got to work through it and try to make your way back. I'm here now and it’s looking up and I’m trying to get better.”

So is it reasonable to view Rodon as the future ace after all?

“You certainly can’t discount that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He has to go out there and continue to get his feet underneath him and get through the rest of the season healthy and climbing.”

In other Sox pitching news, Renteria said starter Dylan Covey, who was removed in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game due to a hip flexor injury, “felt better” Sunday and the team will continue to monitor the right-hander’s progress.

Meanwhile, veteran Miguel Gonzalez made a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte as he continues to recover from inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Gonzalez went three innings and allowed one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez belted his first homer for the Knights in the game.

Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

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USA TODAY

Joakim Soria knows he is turning into a valuable trade asset for White Sox

No one knows better than Joakim Soria that the more successful he is as the White Sox’s closer, there is an increased likelihood that the veteran right-hander will be headed out of town at some point.

Soria has not only solidified the back end of the bullpen, the 34-year-old has emerged as perhaps the Sox’s most valuable trade asset to a contending team in need of relief help.

Over this last 14 appearances, Soria has not allowed an earned run and has converted all seven save chances with five hits allowed, two walks and 15 strikeouts.

“My body feels good and my arm feels good,” Soria said before the Sox defeated the Athletics 10-3 on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Guaranteed Rate Field. “I come to the ballpark expecting to pitch and … I try to be out there and help this team win.”

While the Sox haven’t done a whole lot of winning of late—Sunday’s win was just their second in their last 11 games—when they are victorious it’s accompanied by a Soria save. With the Sox’s rebuild in full swing, Soria understands that general manager Rick Hahn won’t hesitate to flip him in a trade.

“Players say they don’t think about it but you have to think about it,” said Soria, who was acquired from the Royals on Jan. 4 in a three-team trade also involving the Dodgers. “When you have a family with three kids and a wife you have to be prepared for everything. But it’s not like I come to the field thinking about that. It’s just God’s plan and whatever happens it’s a business and you prepare.”

Soria has 215 career saves, including 162 in seven seasons with the Royals, but hadn’t been a full-time closer since notching a combined 24 saves with the Tigers and Pirates. With the Sox, Soria won the closing job over fellow veteran Nate Jones in spring training and has been nearly unhittable in recent weeks.

Over his last 13 2/3 innings pitched, Soria has held opponents to a .109 batting average and sports a 2.89 ERA for the season. He has issued five walks in 28 innings and is averaging 10.29 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.

The two-time All-Star has settled in nicely in a Sox clubhouse featuring a mix of veterans and promising talents. Soria has to balance that with the knowledge he might not be around as the season progresses.

“It’s something I can’t control,” Soria said. “I have a really good relationship with these guys and the chemistry with this team is very good. I can’t think outside of the box because (a trade) hasn’t happened yet. You have to keep focused and be ready for today’s game.”