White Sox

Reynaldo Lopez makes best of outing despite White Sox poor defense

Reynaldo Lopez makes best of outing despite White Sox poor defense

Reynaldo Lopez’s defense didn’t do him any favors on Wednesday night, but he managed the situation as best as possible.

The White Sox rookie starting pitcher limited the red-hot Cleveland Indians to a run despite four misplays behind him in six innings. Lopez earned his team’s lone atta boy of the night from manager Rick Renteria for his ability to overcome lousy White Sox play in a 5-1 loss to the Indians at Guaranteed Rate Field. Even though he had to pitch with additional traffic courtesy of a poor defense and it ran up his pitch count, Lopez somehow managed to keep the White Sox within striking distance.

“Even though the numbers were still good he did better than that,” Renteria said. “We should have caught the ball on more plays. It would have allowed us possibly for him to get a little deeper, but he had to make more pitches because of those miscues. We talked to our guys about that. The physical errors don’t bother you as much what precipitated them. Is it lack of focus? What is it? We had to deal with those truths also. We dealt with those today. It will be a great lesson to get better. Those kids want to do very, very well. We say it every day. They’re not looking to fail, but today as far as (Lopez) is concerned, for what he did his numbers could have been better.”

Lopez rarely got any breaks in his fourth start of the season.

With one on and one out in the first, Matt Davidson misplayed a slow roller that went right through his legs into a two-base error. But as he would many times on Wednesday, Lopez sharpened his focus and escaped the inning with a pair of pop outs.

[MORE: Why elite prospects Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez could force White Sox to abandon patient approach

An inning later, Tyler Saladino couldn’t cleanly field a grounder up the middle -- it would have gone for an inning-ending double play -- and Tyler Naquin turned it into a double. Lopez didn’t let it bother him as he struck out Roberto Perez with a changeup and induced a foul out off Francisco Lindor’s bat.

However, Lopez didn’t escape unharmed. Carlos Santana singled off the glove of Nicky Delmonico to start the fourth inning and Alen Hanson couldn’t find the handle on Yandy Diaz’s grounder, which also went for a single instead of a double play. Lopez issued a walk to load the bases and Naquin followed with a sac fly for the only run the pitcher allowed. But Lopez struck out Perez again and retired Lindor to limit the damage.

In spite of a high pitch count, Lopez collected himself and pitched two quick innings to get the White Sox through six. Lopez held Cleveland to a run and six hits with two walks and two strikeouts in a 102-pitch effort.

“I just say they are going to have good days and bad days and they are going to make some mistakes once in a while,” Lopez said through an interpreter. “I believe in them because I know they are trying to do their best, not just to help me but for the team and themselves.

“How did I keep my focus? Just working on executing my plan. That’s the way I did it.”

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: