White Sox

A statistical look at the White Sox slow start

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A statistical look at the White Sox slow start

Following a busy offseason, expectations soared around the White Sox. But the South Siders are off to a slow start to begin the 2015 campaign.

Heading into play Tuesday, Robin Ventura's squad is just 12-17 with the worst run differential (-39) in the American League. Of course, the White Sox have played the fewest games in the AL, thanks to rainouts and the two postponements in Baltimore.

Shockingly, the Sox are actually 10-5 at home to start the season. It's their road record that's the problem. The White Sox are 2-12 on the road, tied for the worst stretch in the first 14 road games in franchise history. They have never started a season 2-13 on the road (went 2-12 in 1932 and 1942, but won the next game both years). Can they avoid history Tuesday night in Milwaukee?

The Sox have scored the fewest runs in the American League with only 106 through their first 29 games. Only the Giants and Phillies have scored fewer runs in Major League Baseball, and they don't have the benefit of the DH.

[MORE - Sale looks to get White Sox back to winning ways on CSN]

On offense, the Sox are seventh in the AL in average (.254), but they're not drawing walks (72 free passes; only Kansas City has drawn fewer) and they're not driving the ball, with the fewest extra-base hits (65) in the MLB.

After much ado about Vince Coleman's impact on the team's baserunning in spring training, the Sox have the fewest stolen bases in the AL with only six, and they've been caught stealing 10 times. They're the only team in the AL with a stolen base percentage below .500.

Pitching hasn't been much better. As a staff, the White Sox have allowed a .276 batting average against, the highest in the AL and second only to the Colorado Rockies (.291) in all of baseball.

A lot of that has come from the starting rotation:

—Highest Starter ERA MLB this season (entering Tuesday):

5.66 Rockies
5.63 Red Sox
5.46 Indians
5.21 Blue Jays
5.16 White Sox
5.14 Phillies

—The White Sox have a quality start in only 13 of 29 games this season - three each by John Danks, Chris Sale, Jeff Samardzija and Jose Quintana, one by Carlos Rodon.

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—Jeff Samardzija first 7 starts of season:

2014: 0-3, 1.62 ERA, 41 hits in 50.0 IP, 2 HR
2015: 2-2, 4.80 ERA, 53 hits in 45.0 IP, 6 HR

Bonus quirky stat: Adam Eaton got his first RBI of the season Monday in his 109th plate appearance. He had the most PAs in MLB this year without an RBI to that point. Former Cub and current Mariners outfielder Justin Ruggiano (45 PAs) is now the leader for most PAs without an RBI this season.

Thanks to CSN Stat Guru Chris Kamka for stats/info.

Dylan Covey attempting to right the ship via mechanics and mentality

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USA TODAY

Dylan Covey attempting to right the ship via mechanics and mentality

It was only a couple of months ago that Dylan Covey had an earned-run average of 2.22 and was being touted as a possible future stalwart in the White Sox rotation.

Fast forward to the present, when the 27-year-old right-hander is sitting on a four-game losing skid and sports a 6.06 ERA.

So what happened?

Location, location, location.

Covey has struggled to keep the ball down in the zone and has paid the price as hitters are teeing off on the high offerings.

“I just kind of got away from trying to keep the ball down in the zone and have that be my main focus,” Covey said. “Sometimes when I’m up in the zone I’m trying to be up there, but I need to get back to my bread and butter, which is pretty much being down in the zone with everything.”

The issues have been a combination of mechanics and mentality, according to Covey.

“Having good mechanics will lead to getting the ball down into the zone but more so it’s having the focus be down in the zone,” he said.

Covey’s next attempt to right the ship will be Saturday when he’s scheduled to pitch against the Royals at Guaranteed Rate Field. Despite his struggles, which include a 1-6 record and 7.71 ERA in his last seven starts, manager Rick Renteria has continued to give Covey the ball.

“I’ve kind of been given the luxury to have a couple of opportunities and I appreciate that,” Covey said. “They see me work and they see the stuff that I have. When I can harness it and get control of it, it can be pretty good.”

Renteria said the Sox are “confident and hopeful” that Covey can turn things around.

“In real terms, he’s the one that's got to do it,” Renteria added. “He’s worked and gained a lot of experience and knowledge and had some successes this year that I think will bode well for him. Getting it down, for him is really, really important because the ball has a lot of tremendous action below the zone. We need him to do that in order to be effective and we believe he will continue to progress in that regard.”

Covey said that a stretch from May 23-June 13 when he went 4-0 with a 1.53 ERA gave him the confidence he needs to get through this difficult stretch.

“I’ve seen it this year--I’ve had the success,” Covey said. “When things are working for me I know I can be a really good pitcher. I just need to limit the mistakes and then learn to make an adjustment sooner rather than later.”

With about six weeks remaining in the Sox’s season, Covey plans to use his opportunities on the mound to secure a place on the 2019 roster.

“That’s where a lot of guys on this team are,” Covey said. “Obviously, we want to win games right now but for me, I want to finish this season strong and get some momentum going into next year and leave off on a good note. Just to have that feeling of, ‘OK, this is what I did last year and how I finished and let’s just carry on from there and pick it up from where I left off.’”

Suspended catcher Welington Castillo working his way back to White Sox with minor league rehab stint

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USA TODAY

Suspended catcher Welington Castillo working his way back to White Sox with minor league rehab stint

With about a week until the end of his 80-game suspension, Welington Castillo his making his way back to the White Sox.

The veteran catcher joined Triple-A Charlotte for a rehab assignment Friday, in the Knights' lineup for their afternoon game.

Castillo has been serving his suspension since May 24, when Major League Baseball handed down its punishment for his testing positive for a banned substance. He's eligible to return Aug. 23, just nine days before rosters expand.

The White Sox added Castillo over the offseason after he had career years offensively and defensively with the Baltimore Orioles during the 2017 season. The hope was he could provide a veteran presence and help out with the development of the team's young pitching staff — and of course that his bat could help bolster the team's everyday lineup. A two-year contract with an option for a third meant that if all went well, Castillo could be around for the start of the team's transition from rebuilding to contending, a sort of bridge to top catching prospect Zack Collins.

Things obviously did not work out as planned, and Castillo has missed months of time working with the pitchers while he's served his suspension.

Still, his return will perhaps be a welcome help to young pitchers still learning how to succeed against major league lineups, guys like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, who have had inconsistent first full campaigns in the big leagues — not to mention any young pitchers who might be called up from the minor leagues over the season's final month and a half.

As for the team's catching situation, Omar Narvaez has done very well at the plate since taking over as the starting catcher when Castillo was suspended. Since the beginning of June, Narvaez is slashing .356/.433/.559, and his season batting average of .282 is one of the highest on the team. Kevan Smith, the No. 2 catcher, is hitting .283 on the season. Castillo will return with a .267/.309/.466 slash line in 33 games he played in before being suspended.