White Sox

Sox drawer: White Sox feel confident despite second loss to Cubs

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Sox drawer: White Sox feel confident despite second loss to Cubs

Most baseball players will never admit that they follow the standings or read the out-of-town scoreboard during games this early in the season.

But Tuesday night with his team trailing the Cubs 2-1, there was at least one member of the White Sox who was watching his game and the one being played simultaneously in Cleveland.

It was the same guy who saw Robin Ventura come out of the dugout in the eighth inning, seemingly to pull him from the game, and shouted back at his manager, "NO!"

Ventura was merely checking on the ankle of his pitcher. He had just taken a screaming ground ball off of it.

Jake Peavy was fine. He stayed in the game. And after holding the Cubs to two runs over nine innings, he sat helplessly in the dugout, hoping the Sox would mount a comeback. The same kind of rally he had noticed the Reds had just completed against the Indians in the top of the ninth.

It didn't happen.

And after taking questions from the media at his locker, Peavy had his own question for us. It was about the Indians.

"Did they end up winning or losing?"

They won. Asdrubal Cabrera hit a two-run homer off Aroldis Chapman in the bottom of the ninth.

Peavy tossed his head back, rolled his eyes, and did the math. The Indians grabbed a half-game lead in the division. It's the first time the White Sox haven't been in first place since May 28.

Considering the White Sox had been in first and the Cubs are buried in last, losing two straight to the North Siders did not sit well in Peavy's stomach.

"I don't mean any disrespect, but a team playing the way the Cubs have been playing, we've got to beat those teams," Peavy said. "Again, please, don't take that out of context because the Cubs are a big-league team and you gotta show up every night, anybody can beat anybody. But teams that we feel like we should beat that aren't playing that well, we gotta show up and take advantage of these opportunities."

The White Sox had their chances. They drew seven walks, but the big hits never came.

And the White Sox can feel the footsteps of that other team in the distance. The Tigers are now just two games out.

"Detroit is coming, and we know Cleveland isn't going anywhere," Peavy said. "I don't think by any means this team has lost any confidence. We've showed we can play with anybody on any given day. The bottom line is we've been a little too streaky. We've been real good for a little while then not so good."

Kenny Williams is known to be one of the most active general managers around the trade deadline. He has hinted that if attendance doesn't pick up, he might not get the go-ahead to make moves and take on additional salary.

But remember this: Jerry Reinsdorf wants to win. If it's the end of July and the White Sox are in it (few thought they would be), Reinsdorf could give Williams the green light.

"You can always get better," Peavy said. "I love the team that we do have, but if Kenny and Jerry and those guys see fit, you'd always take an added player. That's something that we'd all welcome. At the same time, if that doesn't happen, we think we have enough here to beat the other teams in our division."

The White Sox need better production at third base, the back-end of the rotation, and in the bullpen.

What do the Tigers need?

According to manager Jim Leyland, they need dirtbags.

"They know how to win games," Leyland told reporters Tuesday. "That type of guy can hit .240 and be just as important as a guy that's hitting .310 because he got the guy over (to third base) on a consistent basis, he got the squeeze down, he broke up a double play, he tagged up from first on a long fly to left-center. Those are the dirtbags I'm talking about."

Leyland wants players with a mean streak. After losing five series in a row, the latest coming at home to a Cubs team with the second worst record in the majors, the White Sox have plenty to be angry about.

So get mad. Get even if you have to. And then, get going.

Because it's way too early to be talking about the Bears.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Future looking bright for White Sox rotation

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USA Today

White Sox Talk Podcast: Future looking bright for White Sox rotation

Chuck Garfien and Vinnie Duber take a look at the young guns in the White Sox starting rotation (Giolito, Lopez and Cease) who are coming off their best week together as a trio and why they are excited about the future (1:00). Ivan Nova has a lower ERA than some of the best pitchers in baseball. Seriously. (5:20). The competition going on behind the scenes with the starting rotation (6:40). What will the rotation look like in 2020? (13:00) and more.

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 

White Sox Talk Podcast

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With young arms dealing, Reynaldo Lopez sets high expectations for White Sox rotation in 2020

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USA TODAY

With young arms dealing, Reynaldo Lopez sets high expectations for White Sox rotation in 2020

The White Sox starting rotation of the future won’t be complete until Michael Kopech returns from Tommy John surgery. It won’t be complete until Rick Hahn’s front office is done shopping this winter.

But what the team’s young pitchers, the ones throwing right now at the major league level, have done of late has to have everyone feeling good about the starting staff’s prospects in 2020.

Lucas Giolito called his most recent outing, a shutout of the high-powered Minnesota Twins, the “best I’ve ever felt pitching in my life.” Dylan Cease settled down nicely after some early struggles against the Texas Rangers on Friday and called his performance the best he’s had as a big leaguer. Reynaldo Lopez had to leave Sunday’s outing after just five innings, his days-old sickness a little too much to handle, but he didn’t allow a single hit before his departure.

All in all — and that includes recent strong showings from veterans Ivan Nova and Ross Detwiler, too — the rotation has a 2.09 ERA in the last seven games, five of which have ended in White Sox victories.

“We’re excited,” Lopez said through team interpreter Billy Russo after Sunday’s game. “This is a very, very exciting moment for all of us and for the organization.

“I think the expectations that you can have right now and that we have right now for the future are really, really high because we all know what we’re capable of doing. And if we’re just doing it right now, then it’s going to be just part of the process, just continuing doing what we’re doing right now.

“The learning process for all of us, for the young guys, has been outstanding. I think all of us have been learning a lot outing by outing and just putting those lessons on the field, too. It’s not just learning and, ‘OK, yes, learning this today and going to apply it in a week.’ No, you need to apply it right away and we’ve been doing that.

“I think you can see the results and for us as a group, it’s a very good moment.”

To those not so sure, there are perfectly valid reasons to be skeptical about the makeup of the 2020 rotation.

Lopez has been terrific since the All-Star break, his second-half ERA down to 2.82 after the five scoreless innings Sunday, but that doesn’t erase the woeful 6.34 number he had in the first half.

Cease has shown what everyone, including manager Rick Renteria, calls “electric stuff,” but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s got a 5.76 ERA and has allowed a homer in all nine starts he’s made since his promotion.

Giolito has been an ace but will have to show that his transformation from the guy who gave up more earned runs than any pitcher in baseball in 2018 into an All Star is permanent.

Kopech’s next start will be just his fifth as a big leaguer and will come, at the earliest, nearly 19 months after his fourth. And while the White Sox remain confident, there’s no telling, until we see him in action, what kind of pitcher he is following the surgery.

And though Hahn has pledged aggressiveness this offseason, we don’t know what kind of pitcher the White Sox will be able to add this winter.

But all that can be effectively countered by what’s happening right now before our eyes.

“They continue to mature, grow, learn,” Renteria said. “It's not necessarily the outcomes, even though you want those good outcomes to occur. It's what they're feeling in terms of what they believe they're capable of doing in certain moments. They're starting to trust themselves a little bit more and able to execute and get through games.”

No matter what the White Sox front office does this offseason, it figures to have four 2020 rotation spots spoken for: Giolito, Lopez, Cease and Kopech. That’s 80 percent of a rotation made up of homegrown arms, or if you’re a stickler on the definition of “homegrown,” guys acquired in those rebuild-jumpstarting trades in 2016 and 2017.

With Giolito and Lopez dealing of late and Cease getting positive reviews while going through his learning process in his first taste of the major leagues, Lopez’s words ring true. There should be excitement and high expectations for next season. These young arms and what they’re doing right now, not hypothetically but in reality, is part of what makes a transition from rebuilding to contending in 2020 look possible.

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