White Sox

Taxed White Sox bullpen earns praise, blame in loss to Royals


Taxed White Sox bullpen earns praise, blame in loss to Royals

The White Sox bullpen has been pretty good of late. But it was also partially to blame for Saturday’s loss.

Such is the life of a relief corps.

Entering Saturday’s game against the visiting Royals, White Sox relievers had a 19 1/3-inning scoreless streak going. That included five shutout frames in Friday’s split doubleheader with Kansas City.

But when Jose Quintana went just 5 1/3 innings Saturday — his shortest outing since May 7 — things got a tad trickier. And a bullpen that had been playing a man down since traveling across town to Wrigley Field for an Interleague series last weekend was pushed to its limits in a 7-6, 13-inning defeat.

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Zach Putnam relieved Quintana, pitching 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Jake Petricka snapped that scoreless streak by loading the bases with no outs in the top of the eighth. Zach Duke relieved Petricka, but a sacrifice fly and bases-loaded walk followed, giving the Royals a two-run lead and causing Petricka’s ERA to go up.

Daniel Webb and Dan Jennings teamed for four scoreless innings while the White Sox offense tied things up in the bottom of the ninth, sending the game to the first of four extra innings. During that span, Jennings was mostly stellar while in the midst of a career-long outing. But his leadoff home run served up to Lorenzo Cain in the top of the 13th signaled that he was out of gas, and he took the loss with that hit being the game-winning one.

See? Good and bad for the bullpen Saturday.

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Jennings earned rave reviews from his manager and catcher for the longest outing of his career. He did a good job silencing the American League’s best team for 2 2/3 innings.

“Danny did a nice job,” Robin Ventura said. “He battled as long as he could, he gave up one in that stretch and you end up losing the game. But he battled, and he did what he was supposed to do. He gave us plenty of opportunities to score, and it didn’t happen.”

“He did an amazing job,” Geovany Soto said. “I mean, he was pounding the strike zone. He kept us in the ballgame. He threw three innings, four innings. He was great. He was awesome.”

Unfortunately for Jennings — even if his performance was a generally good one — his ERA jumped up to 6.59. His record dropped to 1-3.

“I think it was pretty evident from the last inning (that I ran out of gas),” Jennings said. “Guys behind me making great plays, that’s what kind of helped fuel me that last inning. But I felt like I kept going out there and throwing. If you’re getting people out, it’s a lot easier to go out and do it as opposed to if you’re struggling. I felt like I was still throwing the ball well, I was still hitting spots. So as long as I keep doing that, I feel fine, I keep going out.”

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All this action for the relief corps — five innings during Friday’s doubleheader and another 7 2/3 innings Saturday — means some changes might be necessary for the White Sox ahead of Sunday’s series finale with the Royals.

That might be going against the White Sox initial plan, what with an off day Monday and the recent All-Star break providing some rest for that short ‘pen. But Saturday’s workload might force the team’s hand and necessitate bringing in another arm.

But there are two words coming in Sunday’s game that generally mean the bullpen is going to have an easy day: Chris Sale.

“Sale’s pitching tomorrow, right?” Jennings asked with a smile. “I think we’ll be all right.”

Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'


Reynaldo Lopez is changing his place in the White Sox rebuild: 'When I'm on the mound, I'm the best and I don't care about the rest'

Rebuilds are full of surprises.

Fans can pencil in any names they want into their 2020 lineups, but there’s almost no one who’s going to have a 100-percent success rate when it comes to predicting exactly what the next contending White Sox team will look like.

Reynaldo Lopez carried plenty of hype when he was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal prior following the 2016 season. He had a high prospect ranking before he was called up last summer. He hasn’t materialized out of nowhere.

But with names like Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech, Alec Hansen, Carlos Rodon and others to compete with for one of those coveted rotation spots of the future, was anyone going to use the term “ace” to describe Lopez?

Well, in this rebuilding season’s most pleasant surprise for the White Sox and their fans, that’s exactly what Lopez has been. He’s been hands down the team’s best starting pitcher, and he’s making the case that he shouldn’t be considered an ancillary piece in this rebuilding process but a featured one.

He might not be getting the attention that others are. But he’s doing the most with his opportunity of being at the big league level right now. In the end, as long as you’re getting batters out, who cares how much attention you get?

“It’s not about what people say or what they are talking about,” Lopez said through a translator. “It’s about the confidence I have in myself, and I have plenty of confidence in myself. For me, I’m the best. I’m not saying the other guys are not. I’m just saying that’s the confidence I have. When I’m on the mound, I’m the best and I don’t care about the rest.”

Sunday marked the best start of Lopez’s young career, so said the pitcher himself. He was terrific in shutting down the visiting Texas Rangers, holding them to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.

It was one heck of a bounce-back performance considering what happened last time out, when he was roughed up for six runs in just two innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The difference? His attitude, his focus, his intensity, his conviction.

“I just changed my attitude in the game,” Lopez said. “I was more positive today than I was in my last outing and that was one of my biggest differences.”

“I do think he came out a little bit more focused, to be honest,” manager Rick Renteria said. “The intensity level was a little higher today. I think he threw the first couple pitches 97, 98 miles an hour, where his last outing they were at 93, 94. There wasn’t a whole lot of commitment or conviction to his pitches (against the Pirates). I think, as we talked after the last outing, (pitching coach Don Cooper) spoke to him a little about making sure he brought that intensity that he has the ability to do, to bring it from Pitch 1 and he did today.”

Renteria liked it all, and he saw something different in his pitcher when he went out to talk to him with two outs in the eighth. Lopez issued a two-out walk, and Renteria considered lifting Lopez from the game.

Lopez made sure his manager wouldn’t pull the plug on this outing.

“I hid the baseball in my glove because I didn’t want to leave the game,” Lopez said. “I asked me, ‘How are you? Are you good?’ And I told him, ‘Yes, I’m good.’ Then he asked me again, ‘Do you think you are able to get him out?’ And I said yes, ‘This is my game, and I’m going to finish it.’”

What did Lopez do with his extra life? He finished it all right, blowing Shin-Soo Choo away with a 96-mile-an-hour fastball. Then he showed as much emotion as he’s ever shown on a major league field. He earned that celebration.

“When you see your manager come out and you’ve already gone through most of your game in terms of what you might think you have in number of pitches available to you, and you reiterate that you want to finish a particular batter because you want to get out of that inning, and you do it, it's an accomplishment,” Renteria said. “It's a big accomplishment. For him, pretty good hitter. He battled him and he was able to get out of that inning and complete a very, very strong eight-inning outing.”

It’s the kind of exclamation point on a dominant afternoon that could stir some big plans in White Sox fans always dreaming of the future. What Lopez has done this season has been a strong case for a spot in that future rotation and a spot at the front of it, at that. Following Sunday’s gem, Lopez owns a 2.98 ERA with at least six strikeouts in four of his nine starts.

There’s a lot of development and a lot of time left before the White Sox contention window opens. But Lopez pitching like this offers a glimpse into the crystal ball, a look at what could be for an organization that’s acquired so much talent over the last two years.

You might not have seen it coming like this, but the future arriving in the form of Lopez is a sign that brighter days are ahead on the South Side.

Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one


Carlos Rodon's first rehab start went well, White Sox set date for next one

Carlos Rodon's return to the South Side is coming soon.

The top-five draft pick recovering from last fall's shoulder surgery made his first rehab start Saturday with Class A Kannapolis and threw well. Rodon allowed just one run on three hits in his five innings of work, striking out six and walking none.

The White Sox announced Sunday that Rodon's second rehab start will come Thursday with Triple-A Charlotte.

As for the exact date Rodon returns to the big league roster, it's unknown at this point. General manager Rick Hahn said that Rodon will make multiple rehab starts. One might look to the pitcher's recovery from a spring injury last year as a guide. Rodon made four rehab starts in June before debuting with the White Sox on June 28.

This recovery is different, of course. Rodon is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on May 28.