White Sox

White Sox closer David Robertson: 'I need to pick it up'

White Sox closer David Robertson: 'I need to pick it up'

KANSAS CITY -- David Robertson said an injury that sidelined him for 11 days in July has had no impact on his recent struggles.

If anything, the White Sox closer has felt good from a physical standpoint even as he has amassed a 7.36 ERA in his last 11 innings pitched. In that span, Robertson -- who didn’t pitch from July 7-17 because of a leg injury that occurred right before the All-Star break -- has blown four of eight save tries, including the past two games against the Kansas City Royals. Robertson, who converted 23 of his first 25 save chances this season, said he simply hasn’t been able to make the same kind of outpitches that he consistently has throughout his career.

“I’m in bad counts right out of the gate,” Robertson said. “Then I feel like whenever it’s time to make the quality pitch to get the out, I’m not making it. It’s frustrating for me because my whole career I’ve been able to escape jams. Whenever I make a mistake, I’ve been able to get out of it.

“It seems like it’s coming back to bite me in the ass. I can’t seem to get out of one lately.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]​

Robertson has walked five batters in his last 11 innings and has issued 4.75 walks per nine this season, his highest total since 2011. His career mark is 3.64 walks per nine innings.

Another noticeable difference is the damage hitters have done against him over the last month. From the start of the season to July 17, opposing hitters had a .163 slugging percentage when Robertson threw his curveball and a .369 slug against his cut-fastball. Only two of the first 164 hitters Robertson faced this season hit home runs.

Starting with his July 18 appearance, batters have a .556 slugging percentage when Robertson throws a curve and .652 versus the cutter. He has also allowed four homers in a span of 41 batters.

Pitching coach Don Cooper thinks perhaps Robertson’s delivery angle is the culprit.

“The only thing with David is he can get his angle too high,” Cooper said. “Last year when he wasn’t good, he got his angle too high, which did not allow the ball to cut as freely, didn’t allow the curve to curve as freely.”

Robertson said the only adjustment he has made is with where he sets his hands when he comes set. Meanwhile, the White Sox intend to keep Robertson, who is in the second season of a four-year, $46-million deal, as their closer. White Sox manager Robin Ventura said the team absolutely believes Robertson will rebound.

“(The role is) not going to change,” Ventura said. “Regardless if it’s him or (Nate Jones) in the eighth, you have to find somebody else to do it at some point. We’ve used these guys quite a bit so that is always the possibility of doing that. But not out of just sending him out of the ninth inning.”

Though disappointed by the past three weeks, Robertson is also confident his season will turn around.

“I’m not pitching the way I should be,” Robertson said. “I’m not attacking the zone and staying on the corners and keeping guys off balance. I feel like they are a little comfortable in the box on me. Walks are hurting me as well. I just have to pick up my game and start pitching better.

“I’m going to get more opportunities so at some point it’s going to turn for me and hopefully I’ll get on a roll. Right now I’ve been doing a poor job out there and I need to pick it up.” 

White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED


White Sox catcher Welington Castillo will reportedly be suspended 80 games for use of PED

For the first time since new rules came into effect in 2005, the White Sox will reportedly see a major league player suspended for violating baseball’s ban on performance-enhancing drugs.

Welington Castillo, the team’s biggest offseason addition, will be suspended for 80 games, according to a pair of reports.

Manager Rick Renteria said after Wednesday's win over the visiting Baltimore Orioles that he couldn't comment on the reports. Castillo played in Wednesday's game, during which the news broke.

"For me, those at this particular moment are rumors," Renteria said. "MLB is the one that is in charge of that type of stuff. Until they release anything officially I can’t really comment on that."

The veteran catcher, slashing .267/.309/.466 with six home runs and 15 RBIs in 33 games this season, was brought in over the winter to help the rebuilding White Sox in both the short and long term. He had a career year offensively and defensively in 2017, and he was acquired to help develop a young pitching staff featuring big pieces of the future like Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, and also to swing a solid bat and help this young team learn how to win.

If Castillo proves productive over the course of his two-year deal, the White Sox have a team option that could keep Castillo on the South Side for the 2020 season. That could make him a piece of the puzzle for when the rebuild reaches its apex and the team is ready to start contending for championships. But this news has the potential to change that dramatically.

Zack Collins and Seby Zavala are both having strong offensive seasons at Double-A Birmingham and figure to be the long-term answers behind the plate. But Castillo’s absence from any long-term picture could leave the White Sox without a veteran safety net in the years ahead, depending on how the team decides to react to this news now and in the coming seasons.

Castillo’s absence for the next 80 games could also have an impact on the development of aforementioned pitchers like Giolito and Lopez. Lopez, in particular, has been throwing really well this season, and Giolito has control issues to work through, as he leads the American League in walks. Without the veteran catcher brought in to help those guys transition to the major league level, how will the transition change for those two pitchers?

Omar Narvaez would be the logical choice to take over as the No. 1 catcher. As for who could take Castillo's place on the major league roster, the options are limited. Kevan Smith, who was edged out by Narvaez for the backup-catching job in spring training, is on the disabled list at Triple-A Charlotte, placed there Tuesday. The aforementioned Zavala is also injured at Double-A Birmingham, and it seems far too early to rush Collins to the big leagues. Alfredo Gonzalez is a catcher on the roster at Charlotte. A spot on the 40-man roster would need to be freed up to bring him to Chicago.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?


SportsTalk Live Podcast: What should be the plan to call up the White Sox prospects?

SportsTalk Live is on location for White Sox Authentic Fan Night. Phil Rogers (MLB Network), Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David DeJesus and Ozzie Guillen join Kap to talk about Manny Machado Mania, Anthony Rizzo’s struggles and the White Sox plans for calling up their best prospects. 

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: