White Sox

White Sox morning roundup

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White Sox morning roundup

From yesterday:

Chris Sale struck out six with no walks and two hits allowed in six innings of work in a 1-0 loss to Cincinnati on Monday. It was easily his best outing of the spring, and he and A.J. Pierzynski broke down the start while Pierzynski and Brent Morel offered up a few thoughts on Robin Ventura.

The White Sox made 14 cuts, including Ozzie Martinez, Jared Mitchell, Trayce Thompson and Nestor Molina. That narrows the battle for the final bench spot to Dan Johnson and Eduardo Escobar, while Mitchell and Thompson left good impressions on those who watched them. James has some good thoughts on the moves.

Jim Margalus' White Sox Outsider 2012 is now on sale, and as someone who's purchased the 2009, 2010 and 2011 editions of the book, it's a consistently informative, well-thought-out and often witty read. And if you're not familiar with Jim's analysis, he posted an interesting look at Alex Rios' ability to use the opposite field at South Side Sox.

Around the division: Joakim Soria may need Tommy John surgery, Miguel Cabrera cut his face up pretty badly, the Indians traded for a guy with the last name of Stoneburner and the Twins optioned Tsuyoshi Nishioka, the team's starting second baseman on Opening Day last year, to Triple-A.

Yoan Moncada returns to lineup as White Sox activate third baseman from injured list

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USA TODAY

Yoan Moncada returns to lineup as White Sox activate third baseman from injured list

Yoan Moncada is back.

The White Sox activated their third baseman from the injured list ahead of Thursday night's date with the Texas Rangers, the first of a seven-game homestand on the South Side.

Moncada has been on the shelf with a hamstring strain since leaving in the first inning of a game against the New York Mets on July 30. That was, coincidentally, the day shortstop Tim Anderson made his return from a month-long stay on the injured list. The two starters on the left side of the infield have played just one inning together since Anderson suffered a high ankle sprain against the Boston Red Sox on June 25.

Moncada's return figures to provide quite the boost for the White Sox offense. He's been the team's best all-around hitter this season, the owner of a .301/.358/.535 slash line to go along with 20 home runs and 59 RBIs. A sensational turnaround from a disappointing 2018 campaign that saw him strike out 217 times, several of his teammates have touted Moncada's 2019 season as All-Star caliber.

Moncada fills the roster spot vacated by outfielder Ryan Cordell, who was sent down to Triple-A Charlotte after Wednesday afternoon's victory over the Minnesota Twins.

G-Elite-O: Lucas Giolito turns in his best outing of the year by silencing Twins

G-Elite-O: Lucas Giolito turns in his best outing of the year by silencing Twins

"Lucas G-Elite-O."

That shirt was visible while Lucas Giolito's younger brother, Casey, was being ... I guess you would call it "interviewed" by Bill Walton last week in Anaheim.

The T-shirt is right. The White Sox most definitely have an elite arm on their hands.

The elder Giolito brother, the All-Star pitcher and ace of the South Side starting staff, has bounced back from his post All-Star break bump in the road and returned to the dominant form that made him a Cy Young candidate in the first half.

Wednesday he turned in what was probably his finest performance of the season to date, silencing a Minnesota Twins team that lit him up for seven runs less than a month ago. This time through the menacing Twins lineup, Giolito tossed nine shutout innings, allowed just three hits, walked no one and struck out 12 batters. It was his third straight start with double-digit strikeouts, and he's got 36 of them in those three outings.

He was downright filthy Wednesday, keeping quiet a lineup that leads baseball in home runs and torched White Sox pitching for 14 runs just hours earlier on Tuesday night.

Wednesday's performance went hand in hand with his other shutout of the season, when he kept the Houston Astros from crossing home plate back in May. That night he was also excellent, but with fewer hits and walks allowed and more strikeouts against the Twins, I'll give the title of best outing of the year to Wednesday's.

Perhaps more impressive than anything, though, has been Giolito adding to the theme of this resurgent season, bouncing back when trouble has struck. It's the general transformation that's taken him from the highest ERA among qualified starters in 2018 to an All Star this season. Both Giolito and catcher James McCann have noticed one of the biggest differences being that early damage in games doesn't rattle him like it did last season. And now we have Giolito erasing a less-than-ideal stretch to return to dominant form.

Giolito's ERA was down to 2.22 after six innings of one-run ball against the New York Yankees on June 14. In the seven starts that followed, his ERA exploded to 3.52 thanks to a 6.38 ERA in those seven outings. He gave up 26 runs and 39 hits in those 36.2 innings. He's responded phenomenally, with a 2.12 ERA in his last six starts, a stretch that's featured 53 strikeouts and just nine walks in 34 innings. His season ERA stands at 3.20.

For any who might be skeptical that this is the pitcher Giolito will be for years to come, that's a pretty good sign.

In general, there seems to be a good deal of skepticism surrounding how the White Sox rotation will fare in 2020, and much of it is plenty warranted. Michael Kopech will be coming off Tommy John surgery with just four major league starts under his belt. Reynaldo Lopez has been mostly excellent since the All-Star break but had a miserable first half. Dylan Cease has struggled from a results standpoint in his brief big league tenure, with a 5.93 ERA in eight starts. And until the White Sox start making moves this winter, we don't even know who will occupy that fifth spot.

But Giolito is doing his best to show that he can be relied on to be a force at the top of that rotation. Performances against two of the best teams in baseball, the Astros and Twins, have been the biggest exclamation points on that statement to date.

It wouldn't be surprising, though, to hear that "reliable" isn't enough for him. It's not "G-Reliable-O," after all.

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