White Sox

Streak struck - Sox starters no longer unscathed

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Streak struck - Sox starters no longer unscathed

Saturday, March 5, 2011
4:43 p.m.
By Brett BallantiniCSNChicago.com
GOODYEAR, Ariz. All good things come to an end, even when the good things are happening in spring training, untelevised and on the down low.

But indeed, the Chicago starters' streak was snapped with two outs in the first inning of the Cleveland Indians 5-3 win over the White Sox on Saturday.

Physically, I felt great, Gavin Floyd said of his rough two-inning, four-run outing. Youd like to make an adjustment early, especially when youre missing up in the zone; I just didnt make the adjustment You want to go out there and get your pitches in and be consistent with it. Today, it was a little hit or miss.

He was off a little bit, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. He couldnt find the strike zone; I expected him to make an adjustment right away, but he was up in the strike zone. But as a second outing, theres no panic, he threw the ball well, velocity was good.

The Wahoos did all their damage in the first three frames, pushing across five runs, aided by one of two throwing errors by Mark Teahen in his six innings of play. The White Sox mounted a minor comeback in the fifth, pushing across all three of their runs on hits by Omar Vizquel, Lastings Milledge, and Gordon Beckham.

Floyd gave up only two hits, but walked another two batters and hit Jason Donald, who immediately left the game for x-rays. Floyd also was drilled in the leg (just a flesh wound) by the second batter of the game, Asdrubal Cabrera, and was wearing an ice wrap after he left the game.

It didnt bother me until the trainers got in there, Floyd said. They had to spread the swelling out. You press a couple of thumbs in there and it kind of hurts a little bit. Its there, but its no big deal.

When he got hit in leg, that bothered him a little bit, Guillen said. Im not going to make that excuse, but he got hit pretty good.

After compiling a 3.68 ERA through five spring games through Friday, White Sox hurlers coughed up six earned runs vs. Cleveland. And somebody noticed.

Thats the worst our pitchers have been in spring training, Guillen said. This one was pretty ugly. We walked a lot of people. But this is what the sixth game? We should start playing better after the split-squad Monday. I expect them to pick it up. Right now, Im just letting them play and get ready, get their stuff together.
Teahens troubles

It would be remiss to call Teahens effort on Saturday his worst game as a member of the White Sox, but given whats at stake for hima starting position at third, and possibly even a roster spotit was a devastating effort. Not only did he make two poor throws for errors and stumble over the bag at third on an inning-ending popout, he was thrown out trying to score from second base by right fielder Chad Huffman in the fifth inning.

Weve got to give Teahen a shot, but obviously, weve got to make plays, Guillen said. Our biggest friend to a pitcher, especially when a pitchers in trouble, is defense. But Teahens only been out there for a couple of games.

Clearly, however, while just a week into Cactus League play Guillen is worried about how his roster pieces will fall together with Teahen in the mix.

Ive got to talk to our coaching staff and GM Kenny Williams in the next meeting and see what were going to do, if were going to give him a shot at third base or move him all over the place. Thats the next step, because its not fair for him or anybody. It will clear his mindwill I be at third or not? Weve got to try to make the decision as quick as we can and go from there.

No relief

While Chisox hurlers have been generally strong in the first week of play, two pitchers bidding for bullpen stops continued to struggle on Saturday. Kyle Bellamy came on to relieve Floyd in the third and wasnt fooling anyone with his sidearm delivery. His ERA in two spring training innings remains 9.00. Freddy Dolsi has also struggled, today surrendering three runs (two earned) in 1 23 innings, kicking his spring ERA over 2 23 innings to 10.13.

Bright spots?

According to Guillen, there were indeed bright spots to todays worst spring training effort of the season. Just not one youd expect.

The White Sox batboy beating the Indians batboy was the highlight, Guillen said with a loud laugh. Thats how bad the game was. That was the only excitement we had in the game.

There was a friendly competition between batboys when hustling for foul balls early in the game. Guillen and bench coach Joey Cora were yelling on every foul ball, both for their own ballboy to hustle and for the opposing, older batboy to slow down and not treat fouls back to the screen as if at Wimbleton.
The LAST word on the streak

Indeed, Floyd claimed he only became aware of the hitless, scoreless streak by White Sox starters this springthe streak he started back on Mondayyesterday, when his fellow rotation members were warning Jake Peavy not to screw it up. Predictably, Floyd played off caring much about seeing the streak snapped.

Its whatever. Its spring, Floyd said with a smile. Im sure Ill be texting them saying Im sorry I screwed it up for them.

Still, Floyd recognizes that the sort of buzz created by a relatively meaningless spring training streak is indicative of the kind of talent the White Sox rotation possesses.

Thats what were capable of, he said. Thats the kind of starting rotation weve got. Were capable of feeding off and encouraging each other. We have the talent to do something pretty good. Im not surprised, but you know the streak was going to end some day.
Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com's White Sox Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter for up-to-the-minute White Sox information.

Five things all White Sox fans should be paying attention to in the second half

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USA TODAY

Five things all White Sox fans should be paying attention to in the second half

The White Sox staging a second-half surge and vaulting into the playoff race seems … unlikely.

This season was always going to be about rebuilding and development at every level of the organization, so while the team’s 33-62 record at the dawn of the second half can certainly qualify as disappointing, it shouldn’t count as completely surprising.

But with the unique opportunity to watch the future of the franchise develop right before their eyes, South Side baseball fans still have reasons to pay attention to what happens over the team’s final 67 games. Here are five of those reasons.

1. Will the real Yoan Moncada please stand up?

The first-to-arrive star of this rebuilding process has had a streaky go of things in his first full season of big league baseball. He started cold, got hot, hit the disabled list, got really cold and finished the first half on a two-week tear that saw him slash .356/.453/.644 over his final 12 games heading into the break. There were seven extra-base hits, seven RBIs, eight walks and 11 runs scored in that span, too.

So which Moncada is the Moncada the White Sox are going to get in the second half?

This guy’s got huge expectations after being dubbed the No. 1 prospect in baseball last season, and he won’t be the last White Sox prospect to graduate to the majors and then have his every action on the field picked apart. Fair or unfair, that’s life for Moncada until he can produce consistently. But he might be about to do just that.

What he needs to clean up is the abundance of strikeouts — his 130 of them are just two off the big league leaders — and his mistakes in the field, where he ranks third in baseball with 15 fielding errors, the most among second basemen. Are those developmental growing pains or will Moncada be the kind of player who hits really well, strikes out a lot and makes a lot of errors? It’s worth watching the rest of the season to answer that question.

2. When Michael Kopech and Eloy Jimenez come up, you’ll want to be there

Perhaps the biggest question entering the 2018 season was when the White Sox would promote their two highest-rated prospects to the major league roster. The answer to that question is a lot more complicated than it was back in spring training, but there’s still a good chance of seeing both of these guys on the South Side before time runs out on the regular season.

Kopech has had a tough season at Triple-A Charlotte, nothing that’s mirrored the breeziness with which he dominated the Double-A level in 2017, when he punched out 155 batters in 22 starts. The strikeouts are still there this year — he’s got 131 of them in 19 starts — but he’s walking a lot of guys and has had some bad outings when it comes to runs allowed. All in all, it’s left him with 58 walks and a 4.29 ERA at this point in Charlotte’s season.

From a results perspective, things have gotten better of late. He’s got a 2.53 ERA in his last six starts, a 2.33 ERA in his last five, and he rebounded from a four-walk, four-run, three-inning outing with two gems, giving up a combined two earned runs, walking only two and striking out 20 hitters in his two most recent starts.

Of course, Rick Hahn has suggested all along that results do not necessarily translate to big league readiness and that the White Sox are waiting for Kopech to show them specific things to earn his ticket to the majors. Has that happened yet? One would figure that if it had happened, Kopech would be here by now. Still, a full season in Triple-A, working through issues and pitching to a different type of hitter than he saw last season in Double-A would figure to yield at least a September promotion for one of the game’s top pitching prospects.

Jimenez looks more likely to move through Triple-A at a good clip, however injuries have limited his at-bats this season, and he’s only got 269 of them on the season between Double-A and Triple-A. He’s played in just 17 games at Charlotte, recently returned from a stay on the disabled list.

But he’s undoubtedly swung an impressive bat at both levels. He got promoted after slashing .317/.368/.556 with 10 homers and 42 RBIs in 70 games at Birmingham. He’s got a .297/.357/.484 line at Charlotte with three homers and seven RBIs in those 17 games.

Again, the box scores aren’t the only thing the White Sox are looking for, and Hahn has talked about the importance of getting Jimenez at-bats at the Triple-A level. But if he keeps raking, Jimenez would figure to see some big league time prior to season’s end.

3. Deadline (and beyond) deals

Hahn has already said he expects a quieter trade deadline for the White Sox this summer after what happened a season ago, when he dealt away a good chunk of the roster including much of a high-performing bullpen.

It’s not difficult to see why he thinks that, considering the team — a year further along into its rebuilding effort — simply doesn’t have as many tradeable or desirable assets on the major league roster.

That’s not to say there’s nothing to trade away, though, and be it prior to the end of this month or in a waiver deal prior to the end of next month, it’s worth seeing what the White Sox can get for the likes of James Shields, Joakim Soria and middle relievers like Luis Avilan and Xavier Cedeno. None of those guys figure to command the kind of returns Hahn got a year ago in the seven-player swap with the New York Yankees or the crosstown trade with the Cubs.

Look, perhaps, to the trades that sent Anthony Swarzak, Melky Cabrera and Dan Jennings out of town as a better predictor. Those kinds of returns — Ryan Cordell, A.J. Puckett and Casey Gillaspie — might not excite the imaginations of fans and observers. But rebuilds are full of surprises, and anything that Hahn could get has the potential to have an impact on the White Sox future.

Need proof? Look at the August trade that sent Miguel Gonzalez to the Texas Rangers. The return piece in that deal, the not-very-heralded Ti’Quan Forbes, is having a nice season at Class A Winston-Salem this season.

4. The next steps for Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez

After Moncada, the major league players whose developments are most important for the future of this team are Giolito and Lopez, two potential pieces of the rotation of the future. The competition for spots in that rotation figures to be steep with all the pitching prospects still developing in the minors. But Giolito and Lopez can give themselves an upper hand with strong performances to finish out this season.

Giolito has struggled during much of the campaign. He’s still the American League leader in walks, with 60 of them in his 19 starts. He’s still got an ugly 6.18 ERA, thanks in large part to three outings with at least seven earned runs allowed. But there have been flashes of brilliance, too, some very recently. Giolito’s final two starts to close out the first half were good ones. He combined to allow two earned runs on just five hits over 13.2 innings. Without a doubt, his best back-to-back performances of the season.

Giolito’s had good starts before, only to follow them up with not-as-good ones. And he’s walked at least three batters in each of his last four starts. But Giolito’s confidence has seemingly never waned throughout this trying campaign. If he can build off how he closed out the first half as the second half starts, he’ll be looking more like the guy who impressed so much during the final month of last season and during spring training earlier this year.

Lopez, meanwhile, was perhaps the pitching highlight of the first half for the White Sox, though even he owns an ERA close to 4.00. That number has climbed steadily since his remarkable start to the campaign: He had a 4.87 ERA over his final 12 starts after owning a 2.44 number after his first seven.

Lopez has seemed more capable of righting the ship, for the most part, than Giolito this season. But it’s not crazy to suggest that both guys could be in for big second halves after going through their respective growing pains over the seasons first three and a half months. The prospects are coming, though, and they’ll need to step up their games if they want to claim a spot in that rotation of the future.

5. Who will be this year’s Nicky Delmonico?

Delmonico joined the White Sox on Aug. 1 of last season, and by last winter he had some eager White Sox fans penciling his name into their 2020 lineup projections. That’s thanks to how impressive he was over the final two months of 2017, when he posted a .373 on-base percentage with nine homers and 23 RBIs in just 43 games.

Delmonico’s luck hasn’t been as good this season. In addition to failing to replicate those numbers in the season’s early going, a broken hand has kept him out for all but 37 games. But the idea of someone unexpected coming up and surprising is still alive. Who could that be this season?

Daniel Palka’s tried his hardest to be that guy. Though he’ll have close to a full season under his belt by the time October rolls around, he’s done some things that could warrant future consideration with 24 extra-base hits in 65 games. His averages aren’t close to as high as Delmonico’s were in his limited time last season, but he’s obviously got some pop.

How about Delmonico again? Fans have perhaps soured on his future prospects in the White Sox outfield after his slow start — and with Jimenez, Luis Robert and Micker Adolfo on the way — but Delmonico has returned from his stay on the disabled list and like Avisail Garcia did earlier this year, he could return with a bang.

The aforementioned Cordell seemed a candidate for this title earlier this season, though he’s been dealing with his own injury woes.

Certainly there will be surprises, though. That’s how baseball seasons and rebuilding efforts work. And if you’re paying attention, you’ll almost surely have an unexpected name to talk about this offseason.

Michael Kopech electric in start vs. Pawtucket

Michael Kopech electric in start vs. Pawtucket

The Charlotte Knights took on the Pawtucket Red Sox on Thursday night in a high-profile minor league game due to White Sox No. 2 prospect Michael Kopech being on the mound. 

Kopech, the 22-yearold old flame throwing right-hander, has been collecting impressive strikeout totals but has struggled with his control. He had issued 15 walks over his last five starts, and prior to Thursday's game his ERA was 4.48. But Kopech shined in all facets against Pawtucket.

In six innings of work, Kopech allowed one earned run on seven hits, and had nine strikeouts. But the most important part of his game was that fact that he only issued one walk in the start.

Prior to Thursday's game, Kopech had 122 strikeouts and 57 walks over 88.1 innings pitched. If he continues to cut down his walks he will become a very efficient pitcher in the future. 

But the performance is important in the context of the White Sox losing season, as a lack of control is perhaps the last thing holding Kopech back from being able to make his major league debut.