White Sox

White Sox see Chris Sale’s leadership emerge from losing streak

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White Sox see Chris Sale’s leadership emerge from losing streak

As the White Sox continue to plummet to the bottom of the American League, manager Robin Ventura has seen at least one positive emerge from his team’s eight-game losing streak.

After flirting with a perfect game and striking out 14 over eight shutout innings Friday — and after David Robertson blew the save by allowing two runs in the ninth — Sale defended his teammates and proclaimed his club’s skid would come to a stop soon.

The White Sox offense scored a lone run on Friday — coming on a Tyler Flowers home run — and haven’t supported its pitching staff recently, posting a .431 OPS over the last seven days. This is a team that’s last in baseball in FanGraphs’ defensive and baserunning ratings. Only three position players (Jose Abreu, Geovany Soto and Adam LaRoche) have a positive WAR.

[MORE: White Sox lose eighth straight despite Chris Sale's 14 strikeouts]

With all that in mind, Ventura has come away impressed with how Sale — who’s been arguably the best pitcher in baseball over the last month — has handled his team’s malaise.

“The way it’s going, it’s easy to sit there and point fingers,” Ventura said. “That’s his maturity level. His leadership qualities are coming out. You are looking at a guy that is in his fourth year of starting. This is what is taking shape. This is the guy that he has become.”

The White Sox have both of Sale’s starts by 2-1 scorelines on this losing streak, which began right after the team swept a three-game home series against the first-place Astros. The 26-year-old left-hander joined Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez as the only pitchers in baseball history with 10 or more strikeouts in five consecutive games. He’s averaging 12.08 strikeouts per nine innings, putting him on pace to be the first starter since Johnson in 2001 to average more than a dozen strikeouts per nine innings in a season.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Buy a Chris Sale jersey]

And yet, it hasn’t been good enough. Sale’s done his part to be the stopper in the White Sox rotation, the kind of guy whose presence on the mound should mean a losing streak never gets past five games.

Sale knows he’s in Chicago for the long haul, with his incredibly team-friendly contract running through 2017 with club options for 2018 and 2019. He’s not out of his mid-20’s but is already in his sixth major league season, No. 4 as a starter. And he’s developed into not only the ace of the White Sox rotation, but a guy who will support his teammates in the clubhouse even if they’re not supporting him with runs on the field.

“It’s impressive,” Ventura said. “Not only the numbers that he’s putting up but in difficult times, and he’s had difficult times just like (Jose Quintana) has had and this is the result of it. You are seeing a team guy first and he goes out and pitches. It’s also helping with his pitching. It’s what he can control.”

Podcast: Dylan Cease raves about the White Sox farm system

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AP

Podcast: Dylan Cease raves about the White Sox farm system

Coming to you from Washington DC, we speak with Dylan Cease who competed in the MLB Futures Game along with his Birmingham Barons teammate Luis Basabe. 

Cease talks about the White Sox loaded farm system, what players have impressed him the most, where he gets his composure on the mound and more. 

Check out the entire podcast here:

Fernando Tatis Jr. is the prospect who got away: White Sox fans, read this at your own risk

Fernando Tatis Jr. is the prospect who got away: White Sox fans, read this at your own risk

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Fernando Tatis, Jr. is one of the brightest future stars in the game. MLB Pipeline ranks him as the No. 3 prospect in all of baseball, one spot behind Eloy Jimenez.

He’s a five-tool shortstop slashing .289/.359/.509 at Double-A San Antonio with 15 home runs, 42 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 85 games. He’s bilingual, charismatic, the kind of guy who could be a face of a franchise.

And two years ago, he was property of the White Sox.

That was until they traded Tatis, who was only 17 at the time, to the Padres for James Shields. Tatis had yet to play a single game in the White Sox farm system, so it was tough to predict his future. However, speaking with Tatis before he competed in the MLB Futures Game on Sunday, the trade was definitely a shock to him.

“I was surprised. It was weird. For a kid that young to get traded, I had never heard of it. When they told me that, I couldn’t believe it. I was like, ‘What’s going on?’” Tatis said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago.

No front office is going to bat 1.000, and when it comes to Tatis, this is a trade the White Sox would love to have back.

But first, more perspective.

In June of 2016, six months before the White Sox started their rebuild, they were 29-26, a game and a half out of first place. With Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and a healthy Carlos Rodon anchoring their rotation, they felt that with the addition of Shields, they could compete for the division.

Unfortunately, perception didn’t meet reality. Shields struggled on the mound with the White Sox in 2016 and 2017. His numbers have improved considerably, and he could return the White Sox another prospect if he’s dealt before the trade deadline. However, it’s unlikely they’ll receive a player with the potential that Tatis has right now.

“(The trade) was about getting a good starter so they could get to the playoffs. I understood. I know this game is a business,” Tatis said.

Before the trade occurred, Tatis looked into his future and saw a day when he’d be the White Sox starting shortstop.

“Yeah, that was my goal when (White Sox director of international scouting) Marco Paddy signed me,” Tatis said. “We talked about it when I started and that was the goal.”

His goal now is to make it to the major leagues with the Padres.

“I’m pretty close. I want to keep working. When they decide to call me up, I’ll be ready.”

As for his former team, he’s impressed with the talent the White Sox have assembled.

“They’re building something special. They have really good prospects. I wish the best for them.”

You can’t help but wonder what the rebuild would look like if Tatis was along for the ride. He’s the one who got away.