White Sox

White Sox think Lindstrom is a perfect fit

989225.png

White Sox think Lindstrom is a perfect fit

The White Sox finalized a one-year, 2.8 million contract with reliever Matt Lindstrom Friday, adding another piece to a bullpen the team hopes will be a major strength in 2013.

There was plenty of mutual interest between Lindstrom and the White Sox, as general manager Rick Hahn sought a power arm who had the ability to keep the ball on the ground. The 32-year-old has only allowed 18 home runs in 326 career innings -- an average of one home run served up per 18 innings over seven seasons. That's important for a team that plays half its games at hitter-friendly U.S. Cellular Field.

"He fits nicely for the ballpark," Hahn said. "He keeps the ball on the ground, he has a power-type arm where he's able to get a strikeout when needed. So it was a good fit for us. And talking to (pitching coach Don Cooper) and our scouts, there's even a little bit of upside there given how strong the arm is."

Lindstrom has had his eye on the White Sox for a while, too. The right-hander, who posted a 2.68 ERA between Arizona and Baltimore in 2012, said he frequently bugged his agent to inquire about the White Sox this winter.

"Every time he mentioned some other team in the loop for my services, I would ask him 'well where are these guys at,'" Lindstrom explained. "So we kinda did it quickly down the stretch, I was excited about that. Now I don't have to face guys like (Alex) Rios and (Adam) Dunn anymore, and Paul (Konerko). So I'm looking forward to not having to do that either.

Lindstrom will join a bullpen headlined by Addison Reed, Matt Thornton, Jesse Crain and Nate Jones, giving manager Robin Ventura plenty of late-inning depth. Ventura said he envisions Lindstrom filling the role Brett Myers -- who signed with Cleveland earlier this month -- had last season, pitching mainly in the seventh and eighth innings but also able to slide in if Reed needs a day off in the ninth.

All those pitchers had an average fastball velocity over 93 miles per hour in 2012, and the hope is the depth Lindstrom adds will help keep everyone fresh for the 2013 season.

"The great part about it is (Ventura) has those options down there now," Lindstrom said. "He could use any one of us late in a game from the sixth inning on. He can mix and match lefty and righty, whatever, because we have the ability to get both those hitters out."

While Lindstrom's velocity dipped in 2012 -- he went from averaging over 95.7 miles per hour on his fastball from 2007-2011 to 94.8 miles per hour last season -- Hahn chalked that up to an improved two-seam fastball, the sink on which helped Lindstrom generate plenty of ground balls. It's no surprise, then, that Lindstrom's 50.7 percent ground ball rate was the highest of his career in 2012.

For the White Sox, Lindstrom is another piece to the puzzle, one that'll keep the team competitive in the American League.

"You need an elite pitching staff to survive in the American League and to survive in our ballpark," Hahn said, "and we feel weve put that together, that one through 12 can compete with anybody."

White Sox get lesson in why they need their own Justin Verlander type to finish off rebuild

verlander_2.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox get lesson in why they need their own Justin Verlander type to finish off rebuild

Who will be the White Sox version of Justin Verlander? Their version of Jon Lester?

The big-name veteran brought in from outside the organization to be the cherry on top of a rebuilding effort and push things into contention mode. Who will Rick Hahn & Co. bring in to play that role on the South Side?

The White Sox got a firsthand lesson in why such a player is a necessity, dominated in every sense by Verlander on Tuesday night in Houston. Verlander, who long tormented the White Sox when he played for the division-rival Tigers, took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning and finished with one run, one hit and one walk allowed in eight dazzling frames. Jose Abreu's solo homer that broke up the no-hitter in the seventh was the one moment on the evening in which Verlander looked human.

That's the kind of thing Verlander's been doing since the Astros traded for him during the 2017 season, which ended with them winning the World Series. They might do it again this year, the best team in baseball halfway through this four-game series against the White Sox. And he's a big reason they've stayed atop the list of championship contenders the last two years.

Verlander's acquisition was a little different than that of Lester on the North Side of Chicago. The Cubs needed to inject some legitimacy into their rebuilding project and got it by giving Lester, who knew Theo Epstein and his front office from the Boston days, a ton of money to top their rotation. The Astros needed a similar push from one of the game's best pitchers, and they got it by trading for Verlander in a waiver deal with the Tigers. But Verlander accomplished the same goal for the Astros that Lester did for the Cubs. Even in 2019, they're two of the more reliable arms around.

The White Sox might not be ready to vault into contention mode on Day 1 of the 2020 season. Michael Kopech's next start will be just his fifth as a big leaguer. Dylan Cease won't have much more than a month or two of big league experience. Eloy Jimenez has already missed a month of developmental time. Luis Robert will likely be getting his first taste of the majors.

But adding a Verlander type to that group could make a huge difference.

Now, Verlander is one of the best pitchers ever, plain and simple, a first-ballot Hall of Famer. To suggest that kind of pitcher will be available this offseason is perhaps unrealistic. Verlander was set to be among a loaded free-agent class before he signed an extension to stay with the Astros. He wasn't alone, and that thought-to-be-loaded free-agent class is now significantly less loaded. But there are still options, and perhaps more than ever a trade looks like it might be the way to go. If the White Sox do have a top-of-the-rotation starting pitcher on their wish list, Verlander's teammate and Wednesday night's scheduled starter, Gerrit Cole, is on track to be among the available free agents.

So, too, is Madison Bumgarner, who more closely fits the mold of accomplished guys like Verlander and Lester. Bumgarner's got an unparalleled amount of postseason success, but he comes with plenty of questions, too. He pitched in just 38 combined games in 2017 and 2018, and while longevity hasn't been an issue this season — he's failed to go six innings in only one of his 10 starts — effectiveness has been an issue. He's got a 4.21 ERA through 62 innings. His highest single-season ERA prior to 2019 was 3.37 in 2012.

It doesn't have to be Bumgarner. And maybe it doesn't even have to be a pitcher. The White Sox have a list of potential starting-pitching options that includes Kopech, Cease, Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito, Dane Dunning and others. The Cubs and Astros couldn't craft rotations of homegrown players. The White Sox might be able to, though considering the injuries that have plagued those young arms and the current lack of major league ready starting-pitching depth, a big-time starting-pitching addition would really fortify things.

It could also add that kind of legitimacy that Lester brought to the Cubs. Get one big name to come aboard a still-emerging group, and that could draw more talent that could really kick things into high gear.

There might be no one way to do a successful rebuild, but if the White Sox want to follow the template the Astros and Cubs have used to win championships in recent years, a Verlander type would be a good way to go about doing that. The opportunity has to exist, but you'd have to imagine it's an opportunity the front office will be looking for this winter.

Certainly they're already motivated to do just that. Watching Verlander cut through their lineup Tuesday night should back that motivation up.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the White Sox easily on your device.

Sports Talk Live Podcast: The White Sox are running out of starting pitchers. Should they bring up Dylan Cease now?

0504_manny_banuelos.jpg
USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: The White Sox are running out of starting pitchers. Should they bring up Dylan Cease now?

Connor McKnight, Kevin Fishbain and Jay Cohen join Luke Stuckmeyer on the panel.

0:00- Ozzie Guillen joins the panel as the White Sox get ready to face the Astros. The guys discuss if there are any similarities between the Astros rebuild and the one the Sox are currently in.

4:00- The White Sox are running out of starting pitchers. Should they bring up Dylan Cease now?

7:00- Yu Darvish allowed 3 runs over six innings with 3 walks and 7 strikesouts. Is that considered a good start for him?

11:00- The Bears continue to unveil their top 100 players. Khalil Mack is 60th after just one season. The guys debate that and the fact that Jim McMahon is 32 spots ahead of Jay Cutler.

16:00- Scott Paddock joins Kap to talk about the fight in the NASCAR All-Star race and to preview a big few weeks at Chicagoland Speedway.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below:

Sports Talk Live Podcast

Subscribe: