White Sox

James Shields routed again as White Sox blasted by Indians

James Shields routed again as White Sox blasted by Indians

CLEVELAND -- James Shields’ first three White Sox starts have been nothing short of a disaster.

The veteran’s third turn with the White Sox on Saturday night was somehow worse than the previous two outings. Shields recorded only five outs as he allowed eight earned runs and the White Sox were routed 13-2 by the Cleveland Indians in front of 31,066 at Progressive Field. Shields has a 21.81 ERA since he joined the White Sox, who fell a season-low two games below .500.

“To be honest with you, I don’t know exactly what it is right now,” Shields said. “I’m going to keep grinding. The most disappointing thing is I’m disappointing my teammates right now and my performance is not giving them a chance to win ballgames.”

The White Sox were optimistic Shields discovered something late in Monday’s start against the Detroit Tigers. Though he allowed seven runs in that contest, Shields seemed to settle in late, finishing with two scoreless innings. Shields said he felt good and White Sox manager Robin Ventura suggested Friday that pitching coach Don Cooper and the right-hander were pleased with this week’s side session.

But none of that was apparent Saturday.

Shields walked the first batter he faced on four pitches and Jason Kipnis doubled high off the left-field fence. Francisco Lindor’s RBI single made it 1-0 and Mike Napoli’s three-run, opposite-field homer to right put Cleveland ahead by four.

The Indians didn’t back off as Tyler Naquin’s two-out double made it a 5-0 game. Only a nice leaping grab by Tim Anderson spared Shields from a seven-run deficit in the first inning.

Shields’ next inning started with a walk of Kipnis and a Lindor single. He managed to record two consecutive outs but a Juan Uribe RBI single chased him and left Shields responsible for another pair of runners, both of whom scored.

Shields allowed eight earned runs and seven hits with three walks in 1.2 innings.

“Obviously something is going on,” catcher Dioner Navarro said. “I don’t really know what’s going on. We’re trying to go out there with a game plan and he can’t find a way right now. I felt that he made good pitches but at the same time when everything is going wrong, everything is going to go wrong.

“I know there is nobody who feels worse than him. He takes a lot of pride in what he does. I’ve known the guy for long time. He’s pretty pissed off.”

Shields has allowed 24 hits, 22 runs (21 earned) and five home runs in 8.2 innings with the White Sox, who owe him $22 million beyond this season. He has walked nine and struck out five.

Opposing teams have sent at least seven batters to the plate in five of the nine innings started by Shields and at least eight in four frames.  

Combined with his final start for San Diego, Shields is only the 16th starting pitcher in baseball history to allow at least seven earned runs in four consecutive starts and the first since Mike Maroth in 2007.

But options beyond Shields are extremely limited for the White Sox and he’ll stay in the rotation, Ventura said Saturday.

“You’ve got to figure out this out,” Ventura said. “Even for him, you’re starting to look at him — he’s not walking guys all over the place, but you’ve got to get through it.

“Velocity-wise it’s not what he was maybe five, six years ago. But he still has stuff to get people out and you’ve got to figure it out.”

For a third straight start, Ventura had to determine how his bullpen would divvy up the rest of the workload. Matt Purke and Michael Ynoa provided critical length as they combined for five innings. Matt Albers and Zach Duke also pitched 1.1 combined innings.

“You get (the bullpen) healthy and then you want to keep those guys strong,” Ventura said.

First-place Cleveland didn’t ease off the gas, either.

Naquin’s two-run triple in the fourth inning off Purke made it 10-0.

Uribe blasted a two-run homer and Naquin hit a solo shot off Albers in the sixth to put the Indians ahead 13-2.

Jose Abreu had a two-run homer in the losing effort for the White Sox. Abreu also singled and doubled and Avisail Garcia singled to extend his hitting streak to eight games.

Melky Cabrera is day-to-day after he rolled his wrist and left the game in the fourth inning.

The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?


The White Sox sent down Carson Fulmer, so why isn't Lucas Giolito receiving the same treatment?

Lucas Giolito is having a rough go of things in his second year with the White Sox.

He came into the season with some pretty high expectations after posting a 2.38 ERA in seven starts at the end of the 2017 campaign and then dominating during spring training. But he’s done anything but dominate since this season started, and after one of his worst outings in Thursday’s 9-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, he’s got a 7.53 ERA in 10 starts in 2018.

Giolito stuck around for only four outs Thursday, but he allowed the Orioles to do plenty of damage, giving up seven runs on six hits — two of which were back-to-back home runs to start the second inning — and three walks. He leads the American League with his 37 walks.

“I take what I do very seriously. I work as hard as I can at it,” Giolito said. “So when I experience failure like this, it’s kind of hard to deal with. All I can do is come back tomorrow, keep working on things and hopefully have a better one.”

All of Giolito’s struggles have fans wondering why the White Sox haven’t sent him down to Triple-A to work on his craft.

“I don’t foresee that at this particular time,” Rick Renteria said when asked if Giolito could be sent to Triple-A. “I think he’s just a young man who’s got to continue to minimize the emotional aspect of crossing from preparation into the game and staying focused, relaxed and hammer the zone with strikes. And truthfully it’s just first-pitch strike and get after the next one.”

The White Sox have already sent one young pitcher down in Carson Fulmer, who was having a nightmarish time at the big league level. Fulmer’s results were worse than Giolito’s on a regular basis. He got sent down after posting an 8.07 ERA in nine outings.

But hasn’t Giolito suffered through command issues enough to warrant some time away from the major league limelight? According to his manager, Giolito’s situation is vastly different than Fulmer’s.

“I don’t see them anywhere near each other,” Renteria said. “They’re two different competitors in terms of the outcomes that they’ve had. Lucas has at least had situations in which he might have struggled early and been able to gain some confidence through the middle rounds of his start and continue to propel himself to finish some ballgames, give us six or seven innings at times. So it’s two different guys.

“With Gio, I expect that we would have a nice clean start from the beginning, but when he doesn’t I still feel like if he gets through it he’ll settle down and continue to hammer away at what he needs to do in order to get deeper into a ballgame, and that was a little different with Carson. With Carson it was right from the get-go he was struggling, and he had a difficult time extending his outings after the third or fourth because it just kept getting too deep into his pitch count and not really hammering the strike zone as much.”

Renteria is not wrong. Giolito has had a knack to take a rough beginning to a start and turn it into five or six innings. Notably, he gave up a couple first-inning runs and walked seven hitters and still got the win against the Cubs a week and a half ago. And while his first-inning ERA is 10.80 and his second-inning ERA is 12.54, he’s pitched into at least the sixth inning in seven of his 10 starts.

Renteria’s point is that Giolito is learning how to shake off early damage and achieving the goal, most times out, of eating up innings and keeping his team in the game. Those are a couple valuable qualities to develop for a young pitcher. But are those the lone qualities that determine that Giolito is suited to continue his learning process at the major league level? His command remains a glaring problem, and both he and Renteria admitted that his problems are more mental than physical.

“The one thing everyone has to understand is we have to go beyond the physical and attack a little bit more of the mental and emotional and try to connect and slow that down,” Renteria said. “Those aspects are the ones that ultimately, at times, deal in the derailment of the physical action. So if we can kind of calm that down a little bit.

“He’s very focused. Giolito is high intensity. Nice kid but high-intensity young man when he gets on the mound. You might not believe it. He’s going 100 mph. So I think it goes to more just trusting himself, trusting the process, taking it truthfully one pitch at a time.”

Well, if a demotion to the minors isn’t likely, what about moving Giolito to the bullpen? Carlos Rodon and Chris Sale dipped their toes in bullpen waters before moving to the rotation. Could a reversal of that strategy help Giolito?

Well, the current state of the White Sox starting rotation — Fulmer in the minors, Miguel Gonzalez on the 60-day DL and pitchers like James Shields, Hector Santiago and Dylan Covey, who aren’t exactly long-term pieces, getting a lot of starts — doesn’t really allow for another piece to be removed.

“I know they have done it with Rodon and Sale,” Renteria said. “The difference is we don’t have the makeup of the starting rotation that those clubs had in order to put those guys in the ‘pen. We are in a different situation right now. Moving forward, is that something we can possibly do? Absolutely. It has been done with very good success.

“Right now we are in truly discovery mode and adjustment mode and adapting and trying to do everything we can to get these guys to develop their skill sets to be very usable and effective at the major league level and we are doing it to the best of our ability.”

There could be promise in the fact that Giolito has turned a season around as recently as last year. Before he was impressing on the South Side in August and September, he was struggling at Triple-A Charlotte. Even after he ironed things out, things had gotten off to a rocky enough start that he owned a 4.48 ERA and 10 losses when he was called up to the bigs.

It doesn’t seem Giolito will be going back to Charlotte, unless things continue to go in a dramatically poor direction. Right now, these are just more of the growing pains during this rebuilding process. “The hardest part of the rebuild” doesn’t just means wins and losses. It means watching some players struggle through speed bumps as they continue to develop into what the White Sox hope they’ll be when this team is ready to compete.

Danny Farquhar to throw out the first pitch before White Sox game on June 1


Danny Farquhar to throw out the first pitch before White Sox game on June 1

In another example of how amazing Danny Farquhar’s recovery has been, the pitcher will throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the White Sox game on June 1.

Farquhar suffered a brain hemorrhage from a ruptured aneurysm during the sixth inning of the team’s April 20 game against the Houston Astros. But his recovery has been astounding, and he was discharged from the hospital on May 7. Farquhar’s neurosurgeon expects him to be able to pitch again in future seasons.

Farquhar has been back to visit his teammates at Guaranteed Rate Field a couple times since leaving the hospital. June 1 will mark his return to a big league mound, even if it’s only for a ceremonial first pitch with his wife and three children. Doctors, nurses and staff from RUSH University Medical Center will be on hand for Farquhar’s pitch on June 1.

The White Sox announced that in celebration of Farquhar’s recovery, they will donate proceeds from all fundraising efforts on June 1 to the Joe Niekro Foundation, an organization committed to supporting patients and families, research, treatment and awareness of brain aneurysms.