White Sox

Putnam, Petricka have potential to shore up White Sox 'pen

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Putnam, Petricka have potential to shore up White Sox 'pen

DETROIT — One right-hander is on the mend and another has found his groove.

Those developments could provide a significant boost to a White Sox bullpen, which is already out to a good start.

With the addition of Jake Petricka, who should be activated off the 15-day disabled list on Monday, and a return to form by Zach Putnam, the White Sox relief corps promises to feature a more balanced feel with strong options from both the right and left sides.

“With the job the lefties have done so far and getting Jake back and having Putty, it’s another compliment to the ‘pen,” bullpen coach Bobby Thigpen said. “Hopefully we can get things rolling and keep putting up a lot of zeroes and we’ll feel a lot better about ourselves.”

[MORE: White Sox offense comes to life in blowout of Tigers]

Closer David Robertson has been lights out since he put on a White Sox uniform with eight strikeouts in four scoreless innings and two saves. But beyond him, manager Robin Ventura and pitching coach Don Cooper have leaned on lefties Zach Duke and Dan Jennings in tight spots.

The train of thought has been that the new trio would compliment Putnam and Petricka, who combined to convert 20 of 25 saves last season. The plan has been slow to form so far because of Petricka’s sore right forearm and Putnam’s early struggles.

But Petricka — who was spotted flying to Chicago from Triple-A Charlotte on Sunday morning — has posted two scoreless innings on a rehab and Putnam has flourished in his last two games, retiring all six batters with two strikeouts.

Prior to Wednesday in Cleveland, Putnam struggled with command of his cutter and even his best pitch, the split-fingered fastball. He allowed five hits and five runs (four earned) in his first two games.

“The results were pretty indicative of that,” Putnam said. “But now I feel like everything is kind of together, feeling good, like I’m in familiar territory from last year. The way that I was attacking guys (Saturday), it just reminded of last year, which I think is where everyone wants me to be.”

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The White Sox would love to have the Putnam of old as he posted a 1.98 ERA in 54 2/3 innings last season. Right-handed hitters had a .468 OPS against Putnam but he even pitched well against lefties, who had a .623 OPS.

Throw in Petricka who induced 12 double plays, led all rookies with 14 saves and had a 2.96 ERA in 73 innings, and the White Sox feel better about their depth.

“They were pretty good for us,” Ventura said. “You see the stuff that Put did last year, he’s good either way for right or lefty. It’s important to have that righty that can come in and get lefties in case you have to stay away from your own lefties.”

Thigpen and Putnam believe the reliever is more dialed in because he has his split-fingered fastball in great shape.

Putnam admits he perhaps focused more on command of the fastball and cutter during spring and the split needed to catch up. But seven of his last nine split-fingered fastballs have been swung at with three whiffs, two fouls and two ground balls, according to brooksbaseball.net.

In his other two games, Putnam gave up two singles on splitters.

“We have the potential to be really, really, really good,” Putnam said. “We won’t know how that shakes out until we have everybody together. The options, just the ability to do different things that we weren’t able to do last year with some of the pieces we have now, it has to be exciting for Robin and Coop.”

Lucas Giolito has some fun with the not so dark side of his Twitter history

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USA TODAY

Lucas Giolito has some fun with the not so dark side of his Twitter history

White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito isn't having a great season, but at least it looks like his Twitter account could pass a background check.

A Twitter user dug through some of Giolito's tweets from his teenage years. He didn't find much in the way of hateful, mean or angry tweets. Instead, he found candy, touch tanks at the aquarium and animated movies.

The tweet got plenty of attention on the platform, leading Giolito to comment on it. Giolito took the joke with a good sense of humor and made a joke at his own expense.

This kind of makes you wonder what else would qualify as Giolito's "dark side." Maybe this will spawn a series of Lucas Giolito facts like the very tame version of Chuck Norris or The Most Interesting Man in the World.

Michael Kopech, Eloy Jimenez lead Charlotte Knights on NBC Sports Chicago

Michael Kopech, Eloy Jimenez lead Charlotte Knights on NBC Sports Chicago

Tonight, White Sox Triple-A affiliate Charlotte (44-52) will go head-to-head with the Pawtucket Red Sox (45-49) on NBC Sports Chicago at 6 p.m.

Top pitching prospect Michael Kopech (2-5, 4.88 ERA) faces William Cuevas (5-3, 3.21 ERA) at BB&T Ballpark. The flame-throwing Kopech is coming off an 11-strikeout performance in his last start when he completed six innings of work and allowed only four hits and one earned run.

Kopech has been inconsistent for the Knights this season, but leads the International League with a whopping 122 strikeouts. He had a forgettable month of June, when he went 1-4 with a 5.46 ERA, but he looks to be getting on the right track recently.

Charlotte’s batting lineup is highlighted by White Sox No. 1 prospect Eloy Jimenez, who has performed well since his promotion from Double-A Birmingham in mid-June. The powerful hitter has a .283/.348/.483 slash line with three home runs in 60 at-bats with the Knights.

Reliever Ian Hamilton (2.71 ERA), who is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 18 White Sox prospect, has served as the team’s closer since his June promotion to Triple-A. The 23-year-old has converted four of five save opportunities with Charlotte, making him a player to monitor during tonight’s game. He has 10 strikeouts with only two walks in 9 2/3 innings.