White Sox

Mat Latos struggles to find consistency in White Sox victory

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Mat Latos struggles to find consistency in White Sox victory

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Mat Latos was pretty blunt on Sunday in describing his spring performance to date.

Making his second Cactus League start, Latos allowed six runs (five earned) and seven hits in four innings before the White Sox rallied for a 13-9 win over the San Francisco Giants at Scottsdale Stadium. Latos may have been hindered by a poorly manicured pitcher’s mound as both he and Giants starter Jake Peavy commented on its condition. But there’s also a sense of urgency at play as Latos has 10 days left before his first regular season start to establish a rhythm on the mound.

“The results are horrible, if we’re being honest,” Latos said. “I’ve got to start stringing together pitches, there’s no doubt about it. I have to. The first game I might have gotten a little tired. Everything else feels good. The knee feels good. The arm feels good.”

Results aside, Latos’ confidence is pretty strong, too.

[MORE: White Sox: Carson Fulmer accomplished much before reassignment]

He has one exhibition start (Friday in San Diego) and two side sessions to go before he’s set to make his regular season debut April 7 in Oakland. Even though time is of the essence, Latos believes he can get on track.

He had four solid innings in his first start Tuesday before he got hit hard in his final frame. And he said his left knee, the one that bothered him in the past, isn’t an issue.

But Latos couldn’t establish any kind of flow on Sunday. Four of the first five batters reached in a two-run first on Sunday. An inning later, Latos slipped on the mound and hit Hunter Pence, which led to consecutive run-scoring hits by Brandon Crawford and Brandon Belt.

Latos escaped that rally with a strikeout, but never strung together an easy inning. He walked a batter and allowed a single in the third before stranding the pair. He walked another in the fourth and would have escaped the inning if not for a two-base error by Jimmy Rollins. Miscommunication between him and Rollins on the next play led to a balk and a sixth run scored.

Still, Latos — who threw strikes on 55 of 96 pitches — is hopeful he’s about to turn it around.

“I’m not concerned about being ready,” Latos said. “All it’s going to take is one day in the ‘pen. It will take one game to get everything that we’ve gone through to click.

“We worked on something else (in the bullpen) and we changed my positioning on the mound. So I was throwing from a different area. And they say baseball is game of inches, well yeah, I might have moved over about four or five inches on the rubber and it does make a difference. “It’s something you have to get used to. It just takes one.

“Everybody will tell you that. It could take one at-bat for a hitter who is struggling for it to click. It could take one pitch for a pitcher for it to click. I guess we’ve got a whole group of information that we’ve put together for me when I’m on the mound. I tried it in the game today. It felt really good.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Todd Frazier has begun to find his power. The third baseman tripled and homered — his second of the spring — in four at-bats. Frazier drove in three runs and scored three. Travis Ishikawa finished a single short of the cycle and had five RBIs. Avisail Garcia homered, his fourth of the spring.

Brett Lawrie walked three times and also singled.

Scott Carroll allowed two earned runs in four innings pitched in relief.

ESPN.com ranks White Sox MLB's worst rotation

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USA TODAY

ESPN.com ranks White Sox MLB's worst rotation

On Wednesday morning, ESPN.com released their rankings of all 30 MLB team's starting rotations. The rankings were a nod to the current structure of the rotation, as well as how they were likely to perform in the future. And that is why the Chicago White Sox being ranked dead last in the league is somewhat alarming. 

Overall, the White Sox rotation is 28th in WHIP and 29th in strikeouts. 

Lucas Giolito is currently the team leader in wins with four, but his ERA sits at an unsightly 7.19. James Shields has been decent in spurts, but a general lack of run support has limited his effectiveness. Carlos Rodon has been a mixed bag since returning, but was able to reach the seventh inning in his last start. This is encouraging considering that he hadn't made it that far in any of his previous three starts. And Reynaldo Lopez continues to rack up quality starts—much like Shields—but has two wins to show for it. 

Veteran players like closing pitcher Joakim Soria and Shields are sure to be hot names on the trade market, and that could go a long way towards bringing in additional prospects to build up the White Sox farm system, and lead to a much improved rotation in the future.

So the White Sox obviously deserve to be ranked lowly until they can groom their minor league starter prospects into MLB-ready staff members, something that looks like it could take longer than originally expected. Flame-throwing top prospect Michael Kopech is still amassing high strikeouts numbers, but he is walking over six batters per outing, showing an obvious issue with control. 

White Sox fans can take their mind off of ESPN ranking the team's rotation 30th in the league by turning their attention to Eloy Jimenez. He has been absolutely crushing it in Double-A Birmingham, and will likely be making his debut with the Triple-A Charlotte Knights on Saturday. That game will be live on NBC Sports Chicago. So sit back, relax and look forward to the future, wherever it may take White Sox faithful. 

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 2

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USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Ask Us Anything Part 2

In Part 2 of "Ask Us Anything" we answer the following questions: Who will be the biggest free agent the White Sox sign this off-season? What are the chances they trade Avi Garcia before the deadline? What's your assessment so far of Luis Robert?  Who's on your all-time busted prospect list? Is Omar Vizquel the next White Sox manager? Would the 1994 White Sox have won the World Series if there wasn't a strike?  What's the long term plan at third base? These questions and many more on this edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast.

If you missed Part 1 of 'Ask Us Anything', you can listen to the full episode here 

Listen to the full Part 2 of 'Ask Us Anything' at this link or in the embedded player below: