White Sox

Sloppy White Sox drop nightcap to Orioles


Sloppy White Sox drop nightcap to Orioles

BALTIMORE — One minute they show you promise, the next the White Sox show you why they haven’t been very good.

Several defensive mistakes and another gaffe on the bases Thursday didn’t do rookie starter Chris Beck any favors in the second half of a long, muggy afternoon. Winners behind a dominant Chris Sale in the opener, the White Sox were forced to settle for a split after they dropped the nightcap of a doubleheader, 6-3, to the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

The teams split the makeup doubleheader but the White Sox — who open a three-game series in Houston on Friday night — made a handful of errors that may have cost them a sweep.

“We had some chances there to get (Beck) out of some stuff and we didn’t and you move on to Houston,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It was a long day, a long day to get guys in there and play some positions, but we could have played better in the second game.

“He did his job.”

[MORE: Chris Sale shines in White Sox victory over Orioles]

He said it could have been better, but all things considered, Beck’s major league debut was solid — especially after he settled down. Unfortunately for the White Sox, their defense went the opposite direction.

Holding a 3-2 lead in the third, Beck yielded a one-out single and walked Chris Davis. Steve Clevenger followed with a single but Melky Cabrera’s throw home was on the mark only for Geovany Soto to drop it, which allowed Adam Jones to score and the others to move into scoring position.

On the very next play, Conor Gillaspie couldn’t hang on to J.J. Hardy’s ground-ball single, which allowed another run to score and gave Baltimore a 4-3 lead. But Beck retired the next two batters to limit the damage in the third.

He pitched around a one-out double in the fourth and leadoff walk in the fifth.

Beck looked like he’d get around a leadoff double in the sixth but Emilio Bonifacio misplayed Travis Snider’s hard liner into an RBI single to make it 5-3.

Despite the extra outs provided by the White Sox, Beck avoided letting the game get out of hand.

“He managed himself really good,” Soto said. “He was a big leaguer. He looked like a big leaguer.”

[RELATED: White Sox encouraged by Avisail Garcia's progress]

A low throw by Beckham in the seventh accounted for another run, this one charged to Dan Jennings.

Beck looked just like a rookie in his first two innings. He gave up an opposite-field triple to Manny Machado on his first pitch and walked Johnny Paredes with one out. Adam Jones’ RBI groundout made it 1-0 in the first and Davis doubled in another run to put Beck down by two. But the rookie stranded two batters in the second inning when Snider grounded out to first.

Beck — who was optioned back to Triple-A Charlotte after the game — allowed five runs (four earned) and 10 hits with four walks in six innings.

Though he was partly satisfied and found some positives, Beck wanted more.

“Still there was a couple of pitches in my head I wish I could take back,” Beck said. “You just tried to move on from each one and execute to the best of my abilities and today that just wasn’t really up to par.”

After a strong start, the White Sox offense had to settle for a bogey or two when birdies were an option.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans]

Adam Eaton started the game with a solo home run off rookie pitcher Mike Wright. The White Sox added two more in the third inning on a two-run homer by Adam LaRoche to put the White Sox ahead 3-2.

But trailing by a run in the fifth, the White Sox ran themselves out of a potential rally. LaRoche led off with a walk and Beckham drew a 10-pitch free pass. LaRoche tagged on Gillaspie’s fly to right and advanced to third. But Beckham inexplicably took off from first, slipped and was doubled off. After another walk, reliever Oliver Drake retired J.B. Shuck on a liner.

Ventura attributed some of his team’s mistakes to a long day in the midst of an unforgiving stretch of 18 games in 17 days. Given the scenarios he faced, Beck impressed Ventura.

“His presence of what was going on around him, he still competed and did what he was supposed to do,” Ventura said. “It’s a good lineup, it’s tough to go through. For a guy’s first time up here he was fine.

“Once he got over the ‘he’s starting,’ his command was better and got guys out in front with the change.”

Despite midseason slump, Jose Abreu is moving toward a fifth straight season of 25 homers and 100 RBIs

Despite midseason slump, Jose Abreu is moving toward a fifth straight season of 25 homers and 100 RBIs

When Jose Abreu went to the All-Star Game — voted in as the starting first baseman for the American League squad — he was of course deserving as an incredibly consistent performer through his first four seasons in the big leagues and his role as the face of the White Sox.

But the numbers weren't looking so good in mid July. An extended slump had Abreu looking very un-Abreu-like, perhaps heading toward his worst statistical season since arriving in the majors from Cuba ahead of his 2014 Rookie of the Year campaign.

At the close of the first half, he was slashing .253/.311/.441 with 13 home runs and 52 RBIs, a far cry from the .301/.359/.524 slash line he put up through his first four seasons, when he also joined Albert Pujols and Joe DiMaggio as the only players ever to start their careers with a quartet of 25-homer, 100-RBI campaigns.

But Abreu, who's been a very good second-half hitter during his career, is on a hot streak that's powering his way back to his version of normal. And it's looking like he could again reach the numbers we're so used to seeing from him by season's end.

After a one-homer, three-hit, three-RBI day in Wednesday afternoon's win over the Detroit Tigers, Abreu is up to .268/.327/.484 on the campaign with 21 homers and 73 RBIs. That puts him nine homers and 27 RBIs away from the mark he's hit in each of his first four seasons with 42 games left in the season. It's not at all unreasonable to suggest he'll be able to do that, as he's hit eight homers and driven in 21 runs in his last 22 games.

He'd have to be some kind of dialed-in for the remainder of 2018 to bump the averages back to where they've been in recent seasons. But here's the kind of hot streak he's on now: Since the start of the second half, Abreu is slashing .323/.385/.646. And that's not too crazy when you realize how good he's been in the second half in his career. Coming into Wednesday's game, his career second-half stat line looked like this: a .314/.381/.540 slash line with 61 homers and 199 RBIs in 303 games.

For the White Sox, the confidence was always there that Abreu was going to snap out of the extended slump that saw him slash .180/.230/.308 from May 27 to the end of the first half, and he's done exactly that. Now, he's hot enough that he's inspiring confidence he could return to some of his regular numbers by season's end. It's that kind of consistency, coupled with his off-the-field value, that makes the team think so highly of him and could keep him around long enough for the rebuilding process to yield a perennial contender on the South Side.

A lot can change, but who are the favorites to make up the White Sox rotation of the future?


A lot can change, but who are the favorites to make up the White Sox rotation of the future?

The White Sox seem to be a couple years away from shifting from rebuilding mode to contention mode. There's plenty of development that still needs to occur at both the major league and minor league levels before the roster of the future comes fully into focus.

But with some excellent performances happening right now, is the White Sox rotation of the future falling into place? At least a little?

Look at this:

— Carlos Rodon, last seven starts: 1.60 ERA, 42 strikeouts
— Michael Kopech, last six starts: 1.89 ERA, 50 strikeouts
— Dylan Cease, last seven starts: 1.08 ERA, 57 strikeouts
— Dane Dunning, last five starts (back in June): 2.08 ERA, 38 strikeouts

Kind of looks like four-fifths of a starting rotation, doesn't it?

As has often been discussed, the White Sox have a good deal of starting pitching depth, and there are plenty of possibilities to fill that starting staff down the line. Heretofore unmentioned are pitching prospects Alec Hansen, Jordan Stephens, Jimmy Lambert and Bernardo Flores, all ranked among the organization's top 25 prospects, as well as current big leaguers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, who have each had their flashes of brilliance this season on the major league stage.

But the four guys listed above have been very, very good this season, especially recently, making it easy to envision them making up 80 percent of the starting rotation the next time the White Sox are competing for a championship.

Let's start with Rodon, who extended his streak of great starts to seven in Wednesday afternoon's win over the Detroit Tigers. He went eight innings for the second outing in a row, and he's now pitched into the eighth inning in five of his last six starts. He's got a 1.60 ERA in his last seven starts, with 42 strikeouts in that span. Wednesday, he bounced back from a rocky three-run third inning and finished with just three runs allowed on five hits and a walk, adding six strikeouts. Quite simply, he's been ace-like and done well to answer the health-related questions he brought into the season, when shoulder surgery prevented him from debuting until June for the second straight campaign.

Then there are the two guys putting up monster numbers in the minor leagues: Kopech and Cease.

The 22-year-old Kopech has moved past some midseason struggles and has been downright electric of late at Triple-A Charlotte. In his last six starts, Kopech has a 1.89 ERA with 50 strikeouts and a jaw-droppingly low four walks in 38 innings. It's quite the turnaround for a guy who was having difficulty keeping the walk numbers low earlier this season. But he's come out the other side pitching as well as he has since joining the White Sox organization prior to last season, which is saying a lot considering he struck out 172 hitters in 2017. He's just 11 strikeouts away from matching that total this year. He could make his major league debut before the 2018 season is over.

And then there's Cease, also 22, who wasn't even the most talked-about player in his own trade, coming over from the Cubs along with Eloy Jimenez in last summer's crosstown swap. Cease has been a tremendous surprise for the White Sox this season, not because they didn't think he'd be great but because he's been the organization's best pitcher. And he's continued that trend in his seven most recent starts at Double-A Birmingham, too, with a razor-thin 1.08 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 41.2 innings. He deservedly represented the White Sox at the Futures Game during All-Star week in Washington, D.C., last month and appears to be well on his way to earning the team's minor league pitcher of the year honors.

And for a fourth, how about a guy who hasn't pitched in a month and a half? Dunning has an elbow injury that's kept him out since late June, but prior to that, he was putting up terrific numbers at Double-A Birmingham. In his last five starts before hitting the DL, he had a 2.08 ERA with 38 strikeouts in 30.1 innings. And he might be making some progress, if a recent tweet is any indication.

Now, as mentioned, there's a lot that can and will happen before the starting staff is set on the next White Sox team that will contend for a championship. But this kind of positive production from these four guys stokes the idea of a potentially dominant rotation of the future.

At the very least, this quartet seems to be making life easy for the legion of 2020 lineup projectors out there.