White Sox

White Sox bullpen hopes its fortunes have changed in win over Mets

White Sox bullpen hopes its fortunes have changed in win over Mets

NEW YORK — David Robertson may call his next charitable endeavor No Socks For Wins.

Looking to change his and the bullpen’s fortunes on Tuesday, the White Sox closer wore his pant legs all the way down in a scoreless inning to close out a 6-4 victory over the New York Mets at Citi Field — one that snapped a seven-game losing streak.

Robertson, Zach Putnam, Dan Jennings and Nate Jones combined for four scoreless innings to lead the White Sox, who rallied from four runs down, to their first victory since the opening game of a May 23 doubleheader. In between, the White Sox bullpen blew three games late in Kansas City, including allowing a seven-spot in the ninth inning Saturday.

Robertson, who routinely wears his pants hiked up to expose his stirrups, runs a foundation with his wife Erin for tornado victims called High Socks For Hope. But after he allowed six runs Saturday, he wanted to mix things up a bit. Robertson said he also wore a different, lighter jersey and shaved his beard in between.

“Listen, we’re mixing it up,” Robertson said. “We needed a win, so I went with them down. I wore a different jersey. It felt uncomfortable, but it worked.”

The White Sox need more performances like this from the bullpen if they want to rediscover a formula that led them to a 23-10 record.

The unit recorded a 1.69 ERA in April as they stormed out in front of the American League Central. But that same group has struggled for the past three weeks with the low point coming in Kansas City when they collectively allowed 14 earned runs in 6 1/3 innings. The bullpen entered Tuesday 1-7 with a 4.85 ERA in May. Included in those totals are losses in games in which the White Sox lead by four, five and six runs.

“It was good to see the bullpen back to their old selves,” said starter Mat Latos, who allowed four runs (two earned) in five innings.”

Latos retired eight of the last 10 he faced before he gave way to Putnam, who struck out Asdrubal Cabrera with two aboard to end the sixth inning and keep the White Sox down a run. Jennings, who allowed a run in Friday’s loss, pitched around a single in a scoreless seventh. He earned the victory when the White Sox rallied for three runs in the eighth.

Jones, who lost after he allowed three runs in Sunday’s loss, pitched around a two-out single in the eighth to get it to Robertson. Robertson struck out Cabrera and Michael Conforto and retired Yoenis Cespedes on a fly out to right.

The bullpen also pitched a scoreless inning in Monday’s loss.

“You’re starting to piece that back together as rough as it has been the last week for those guys at the end,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “It was a nice job by those guys and you’ve got to stick with them.”

Only Robertson — who has 13 saves in 15 tries — knows if he’ll stick with the low pant legs. But at least for one night they worked.

“It’s definitely a much better feeling than we’ve had the last few days,” Robertson said. “Knowing that we’re going to get the final out and get a win, it feels nice. We’ve been playing really hard, but things just haven’t worked out. We hit a little bump in the road, but hopefully today’s a start toward getting us back on track.”

Adjust your White Sox free-agent wish list? Gerrit Cole's teammates predict he'll land in California

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USA TODAY

Adjust your White Sox free-agent wish list? Gerrit Cole's teammates predict he'll land in California

Gerrit Cole is rightfully at the top of many White Sox fans' free-agent wish list. But might those hopes already need adjusting?

Cole looks to be on track to land the richest pitching contract in baseball history when he hits free agency after the Houston Astros' playoff run is over. The White Sox are shopping for starting pitching, and what team wouldn't love to top their rotation with the guy who might be awarded the AL Cy Young?

But whether or not you're part of the Twitter-using faction of White Sox fans that believe the team would never spend such money to land a pitcher the caliber of Cole, it might not matter.

USA Today's Bob Nightengale spoke to a couple of Cole's fellow Astros, and they told him they think Cole will end up playing in California. The South Side, at least in the Astros' clubhouse, it seems, is not a betting favorite.

"It will be west of Nevada," outfielder Josh Reddick said. "We know he wants to be a West Coast guy. He’s a California guy, so he probably wants to be close to home. I know he mentioned Oakland a couple of times because of how he’s pitched there in the past. ... But that probably won’t happen. They’d have to clear the whole roster to afford him."

"I got the Angels," pitcher Wade Miley said, "and paying him at least $250 million."

Well then.

Certainly the Los Angeles Angels are not a new suggestion in the "where will Cole sign" discussion. Cole went to high school a 10-minute drive from Angel Stadium and pitched his college ball at UCLA. The Oakland Athletics? That's a new one.

Anyway, a lot of White Sox fans are probably out there thinking "here we go again" as we begin poring over every bit of minutiae in this winter's free-agent market, just like we did last offseason, when Manny Machado and Bryce Harper were both out there for the signing — and both White Sox targets. That months-long reading of the tea leaves, of course, was all kicked off when MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported the White Sox interest during the GM Meetings in November.

So far, there's nothing out there connecting the White Sox to Cole besides pure speculation, that and the fact that Rick Hahn has said his front office will be in the market for starting pitching. Cole, being a starting pitcher, fits the minimum requirement as a potential target.

In fact, in listing a boatload of teams that might make a run at Cole this winter, Nightengale left the White Sox out. He mentioned four of the five California-based teams: the Angels, the Los Angeles Dodgers, the San Francisco Giants and every White Sox fan's favorite, the San Diego Padres, who landed Machado back in February. He also mentioned the Astros, the New York Yankees (who Cole will pitch against in game 3 of the ALCS on Tuesday), the St. Louis Cardinals, the Washington Nationals and the Texas Rangers.

No White Sox.

There are plenty of other variables in this sweepstakes than just geography, and chief among them figures to be money. The White Sox have plenty of financial flexibility gained as a goal of the ongoing rebuilding process, but Hahn said that's not the most attractive element when it comes to free agents signing up to play on the South Side.

"The biggest advantage we have is the talent base we've accumulated so far and the excitement to come and be part of that," Hahn said during his end-of-season press conference last month. "We do have some economic flexibility. That was part of the plan from the start. But I think if you're looking at advantages, a lot of teams have money. A lot of teams don't offer the ability to play with some of the players that are joining us here already and joining in the coming years and the opportunity to win a championship in a city like Chicago."

Whether that appeals to Cole or whether the White Sox will set their sights elsewhere remains to be seen. Certainly his fellow Astros' predictions aren't the be all, end all. Remember last winter when it was a foregone conclusion Machado would be a Yankee because he was a fan of that team growing up? Didn't work out that way. (It's here that I'll mention a pretty cool nugget in Nightengale's piece about Cole sitting in the front row cheering on the Yankees during the 2001 World Series. Is he destined to wear pinstripes because of it? No.)

For the White Sox, they certainly should chase Cole, who would count as the biggest free-agent splash in team history and do a heck of a lot to vault the team out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. But Hahn is hoping that whichever players he lands this winter can do that, along with the team's talented young core, and there are plenty of starting-pitching options out there not named Gerrit Cole: Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Zack Wheeler and maybe even Stephen Strasburg. It's an impressive list of possibilities, one that remains impressive for the White Sox even if they fail to meet any imaginary Golden State requirement from Cole.

Even as Cole readies to face off against the Yankees in the ALCS, attempting to go 19-0 since he lost to the White Sox on May 22, his role as the star of the hot stove season is already beginning.

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MLB'ers think Lucas Giolito was one of the comeback-iest players in baseball this year

MLB'ers think Lucas Giolito was one of the comeback-iest players in baseball this year

It isn't "the" AL Comeback Player of the Year Award, but it is "an" AL Comeback Player of the Year Award.

The MLB Players Association announced Monday that White Sox hurler Lucas Giolito is a finalist for its "Players Choice" AL Comeback Player of the Year Award, voted on by the game's players. He was joined by outfielders Hunter Pence of the Texas Rangers and Jorge Soler of the Kansas City Royals. On the NL side, the three finalists were Atlanta Braves third baseman Josh Donaldson, Cincinnati Reds pitcher Sonny Gray and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu.

The whole "voted on by your peers" element is pretty cool, as certainly they know how different the 2019 version of Giolito was from the one they saw a year earlier. James McCann, who played against Giolito as a Detroit Tiger in 2018 and then caught him as the White Sox backstop in 2019, constantly talked about how transformed Giolito was from one year to the next.

A totally different pitcher.

That's precisely what Giolito seemed like to us non-player types, too, after he went from the worst statistics of any qualified pitcher in 2018 to an All Star and the ace of the South Side staff in 2019.

Giolito gave up more earned runs than any pitcher in the game in 2018, also leading the AL in walks during a season he finished with a 6.13 ERA. Then he went to work in the offseason, making mechanical changes and overhauling his mental approach to the game. It resulted in the kind of breakout season the prognosticators foresaw when they ranked him the No. 1 pitching prospect in baseball once upon a time.

In 2019, Giolito posted a 3.41 ERA, went to the All-Star Game, struck out a whopping 228 batters — that particular feat accomplished by only two other pitchers in White Sox history — and will likely place somewhere in the AL Cy Young vote.

His season was highlighted by a pair of complete-game shutouts against two of the best teams in baseball, the Houston Astros and Minnesota Twins. Both shutouts came against 100-win teams on their own turf.

Presumably some Astros and Twins threw a few votes Giolito's way.

Giolito's status when it comes to "the" AL Comeback Player of the Year Award will be revealed next month, after the World Series is over. But for now, this is a pretty cool feather in the cap for him, another example of how far he's come.

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