White Sox

Promotion to White Sox gives Matt Purke 'sense of accomplishment'

Promotion to White Sox gives Matt Purke 'sense of accomplishment'

NEW YORK -- It doesn’t matter that Matt Purke didn’t learn about his promotion until very late, his family made it to Yankee Stadium anyway.

Shortly after the White Sox informed him they would purchase his contract, a move the left-hander said Friday he didn’t see coming, Purke passed word along to his family in Nacogdoches, Texas. Even though it’s halfway across the country, more than 10 friends and family found last-minute flights to come to potentially see Purke’s major league debut. A third-round pick of the Washington Nationals in 2011, Purke said he’s experienced a variety of emotions in the 24 hours since he learned he’d join the White Sox.

“Just a sense of accomplishment, excitement and anxiety,” Purke said. “All the emotions come through. The biggest thing is that you’ve achieved your goal. We’ve been playing this game since we were four and five years old, 20 years later I finally made it to where I wanted to be. It’s just a wonderful feeling. I’m truly blessed to be here.”

Originally drafted 14th overall by the Texas Rangers in 2009, Purke opted for college at Texas Christian University. Until this season, Purke -- who replaces Scott Carroll, who was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte -- has mostly been a starter in the minors as 45 of 59 appearances have come in that role. While he’s only made one start this season, Purke has pitched multiple innings in six of 10 games. White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Purke could be used as a long man or even as a situational lefty given how many left-handed hitters the Yankees’ lineup features.

“You get some length out of him,” Ventura said. “Matty provides some of that, to be able to do that. I think especially these guys, with the lefties that they do have, a lot of switch-hitters. But with the lefties they have and as short as it is to right field, it’s good to have him.”

Purke’s just glad his family, a group that includes his “mom, dad, brother, his wife, niece and nephew, my wife, her parents and some other family and friends that are close to us,” can be here to celebrate with him. He never knew if he’d reach the majors and yet here he is at Yankee Stadium, only 24 hours after he was with Charlotte in Norfolk, Va.

“It’s what we play for and my dream of being a professional baseball player in the big leagues finally came true,” Purke said. “It was a very exciting moment for me, my family and everyone who has been a part of this journey. It’s been a long one. It hasn’t been easy, it hasn’t been short and now it’s time to enjoy it.”

The White Sox added Purke to the 40-man, which is now at 39.

The club learned it lost catcher Hector Sanchez to a waiver claim on Wednesday to the San Diego Padres, which leaves it short-handed behind the plate. Kevan Smith is still recovering from an April 25 back injury that landed him on the disabled list. Ventura said Omar Narvaez is likely next on the list were the White Sox to need a catcher. 

White Sox place reliever Kelvin Herrera on injured list with oblique strain

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USA TODAY

White Sox place reliever Kelvin Herrera on injured list with oblique strain

The White Sox saw another pitcher hit the shelf due to injury on Saturday.

Ahead of their game against the Rays, the White Sox placed reliever Kelvin Herrera on the 10-day injured with a right oblique strain. In a corresponding move, the team recalled right-hander Jimmy Cordero from Triple-A Charlotte.

Entering the 2019 season, Herrera was expected to be a formidable late-game reliever in the White Sox bullpen alongside closer Álex Colomé. While Colomé (20-for-21 in save chances, 2.39 ERA in 37 2/3 innings) has thrived, Herrera has struggled in his debut season on the South Side. The 29-year-old holds a 7.36 ERA in 38 games/33 innings. As things currently stand, his .326 batting average against and 3.82 BB/9 would be career highs. 

Herrera's struggles are somewhat suprising when considering how well he pitched (2.44 ERA, 48 games/44 1/3 innings) in 2018. He did struggle after the Royals traded him to the Nationals on June 18, though, perhaps a precursor of what was to come from him in 2019:

Kelvin Herrera in 2018:

  with Royals with Nationals
Games 27 21
Innings 25 2/3 18 2/3
ERA 1.05 4.34
BB 2 8
K 22 16
BAA .207 .304

The White Sox claimed Cordero off of waivers from the Mariners on June 7. He previously pitched with the Nationals (22 games, 19 innings) in 2018 and Blue Jays (one game, 1 1/3 innings) in 2019. He holds a career 5.75 ERA in the MLB, but he's pitched well with Charlotte. The 28-year-old has gone 3-1 with a 0.51 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with the Knights, with opponents hitting just .215 against him in 13 outings.

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Reynaldo Lopez continues hot start to second half, helps snap White Sox losing streak

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USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez continues hot start to second half, helps snap White Sox losing streak

After a rough outing against the Detroit Tigers on July 4 — his last before the All-Star break — White Sox starting pitcher Reynaldo Lopez vowed to be a different pitcher going forward.

“At this point, after a really bad first half, there's not much I can say about that. Starting today, you're going to see a different pitcher going forward for the second half of the season,” Lopez said after his July 4 start through team interpreter Billy Russo. “What is done is done. There's nothing else that I can do to change what is done.

“I can do different things to get better and to be a better pitcher for the year and that's what I'm going to do.”

Two outings later, and Lopez is nearing the point where he can say “I told you so.”

Lopez has come out of the break firing on all cylinders after struggling to a 4-8 record and MLB-worst 6.34 ERA before the Midsummer Classic. Friday, he tossed seven innings of two-run ball, allowing just six hits and one walk compared to eight strikeouts. This follows his brilliant outing against the Athletics on Sunday in which he pitched six innings, allowing just three hits and one run — albeit unearned — with two walks and seven strikeouts.

Lopez exited Sunday’s game in line for a win before the White Sox bullpen slipped up. The offense allowed no such opportunity on Friday, tallying 16 hits en route to a 9-2 drubbing of the Tampa Bay Rays. It’s Lopez’s first win since June 9 against the Kansas City Royals and the White Sox first win after the break, snapping a seven-game skid.

Lopez has received a fair share of criticism this season for his struggles, but his recent success should not come as much of a surprise considering how he fared in 2018. The 25-year-old posted a 3.91 ERA in 32 starts, striking out 151 batters in 188 2/3 innings.

Lopez’s strikeout rate in 2019 is up compared to 2018 (8.19 K/9 in 2019 vs. 7.20 in 2018) and his walk rate is down (3.32 BB/9 in 2019 vs. 3.58 in 2018). The major difference is that opponents are hitting .284 against him this season compared to .234 in 2018, while also holding a .319 BABIP, up from .260 last season.

It may just be two starts, but Lopez is backing up his vow to pitch better. Between Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease and the returns of Michael Kopech and Carlos Rodón from Tommy John surgery in 2020, the White Sox future starting rotation is in good hands. Getting Lopez back to pitching how he did in 2018 will only take that group to the next level.

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