White Sox

Nearly six years after trade, McCarthy returns to U.S. Cellular Field

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Nearly six years after trade, McCarthy returns to U.S. Cellular Field

Seven years ago, Brandon McCarthy was a highly touted youngster contributing to the White Sox eventual run to the 2005 World Series. And the 17th-round pick of the Sox in 2002 was living up to his hype as the top pitching prospect in the organization.

As the regular season wound down and Cleveland closed on the White Sox, McCarthy turned out to be an invaluable piece of the team's starting rotation, throwing 14 23 scoreless innings over starts in Texas and Boston Aug. 30 and Sept 5. He made three starts in the final two weeks of the season and had a 2.33 ERA with 13 strikeouts and three walks in those 19 13 innings.

But McCarthy only started two games in 2006, serving mainly as a long reliever. He struggled, allowing 17 home runs with a 4.68 ERA in 84 23 innings. After the season, McCarthy was traded to Texas in the deal that landed the White Sox John Danks. Despite Danks' issues in 2012, the deal stands as one of the best ever executed by Kenny Williams.

While Danks flourished in Chicago, McCarthy floundered in Texas, dealing with ineffectiveness and a spate of injuries. He only started 44 games in three years with the Rangers, and had a 4.68 ERA in those outings.

But McCarthy re-emerged with Oakland in 2011 and was fantastic, as his 3.32 ERA and 12325 strikeout-to-walk ratio shows. He's been banged up in 2012, but in 12 starts the 29-year-old had a 2.54 ERA with 52 strikeouts and 19 walks.

And Friday, he'll make his first start at U.S. Cellular Field since being dealt on Dec. 23, 2006. Five and a half seasons have passed, with some major ups and downs. There was probably a time seven years ago when some figured McCarthy would be a staple of the White Sox rotation for years to come.

There were plenty of reasons to believe that notion, too. And the thought of McCarthy going nearly six years between starts on the South Side of Chicago was ludicrous.

One more note on McCarthy: He's among the best athletes to follow on Twitter, tweeting stuff like this:

Siri, how do you get Josh Hamilton out? Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) May 12, 2012
He'll pitch tonight against Gavin Floyd as the A's look to widen their lead on the Angels in the AL Wild Card race, while the White Sox will try to at least maintain their one-game lead over Detroit in the AL Central. Coverage starts at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet with White Sox Pregame Live.

Luis Robert leaves Arizona Fall League game with injury

Luis Robert leaves Arizona Fall League game with injury

White Sox prospect Luis Robert headed to the Arizona Fall League to get more playing time after injuries limited to 50 games in 2018.

He just got hurt in the Arizona Fall League.

Robert is playing with the Glendale Desert Dogs in the AFL and left Friday's game with an injury.

It's not clear what the injury was, but Robert walked off on his own power. He also has pulled out of the Bowman Hitting Challenge (a modified home run derby) that will take place Saturday.

Robert, the No. 4 White Sox prospect and No. 44 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was 1-for-3 in Friday's game before exiting. He has hit safely in all four games in the AFL, going 5-for-17 (.294) with a walk and three strikeouts, but no extra base hits.

The 21-year-old is the third youngest player on the team and the AFL is a respected offseason league for prospects. A good showing from Robert would be a sign that he is beginning to develop his talent into playable tools.

The injury could be minor so no need to ring the alarm bells yet, but the AFL season is barely more than a month long. Even a short-term injury could prevent him from making up for some of the lost playing time from the 2018 minor league season.

Sonny Gray is available: Could he be a one-year stopgap for the White Sox?

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USA TODAY

Sonny Gray is available: Could he be a one-year stopgap for the White Sox?

The White Sox have a hole or two to plug in their starting rotation. Could Sonny Gray be an answer?

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Friday that he's looking to trade Gray away from the Bronx this winter.

Gray isn't as attractive an add as he was a few years back, when he was coming off a sensational 2015 campaign that saw him post a 2.73 ERA and log 208 innings. He went to the All-Star Game and finished third in the AL Cy Young vote that year.

Since, he's been less successful. He made just 22 starts with the Oakland Athletics in 2016 and had a 5.69 ERA. The following season, he started with a strong 3.43 ERA in 16 starts for the A's before the midseason trade that sent him to the Yankees, where he made 11 starts with a 3.72 ERA. This season didn't go too well, earning Gray a move to the bullpen. He finished with a 4.90 ERA in 30 games, only 23 of those being starts. He threw just 29.1 innings over his final 10 appearances of the season, three of which were starts. He had a 5.26 ERA with 50 walks in 113 innings as a starter in 2018.

Those numbers won't leap off the page (in a positive way) for anyone, but there's no doubt that a potential deal for Gray would be a low-risk move for the White Sox. For a team looking to add 40 percent of a starting rotation, being able to do so cheaply — be it from a dollar or prospect standpoint — would be a good thing, especially if the strategy ends up being to simply add one-year fill-ins while Michael Kopech recovers from Tommy John surgery and Dylan Cease makes his way to the major leagues.

However, Gray's 57-walk total from the 2018 season could be something the White Sox would want to stay away from. After all, White Sox pitchers led the AL with 653 walks this season. They also had five of the top 21 walk-issuing pitchers in the Junior Circuit: Lucas Giolito led the league with 90, James Shields was third with 78, Reynaldo Lopez was fifth with 75, Hector Santiago was 15th with 60, and Carlos Rodon was 21st with 55. Gray slotted in right ahead of Rodon.

But Gray has obviously produced results in the past, and whether the White Sox are looking to simply plug the holes in the 2019 staff or potentially find a sign-and-flip candidate for the 2019 trade deadline — he's slated to hit free agency after the 2019 season — Gray could fit that bill. One thing's for sure: He's available.