White Sox

NBA Power Rankings: Heat still No. 1

928519.png

NBA Power Rankings: Heat still No. 1

By Tony Andracki & Mark Strotman

Each Monday throughout the regular season, Mark Strotman and Tony Andracki will rank all 30 NBA teams. Below are the first power rankings of the year in advance of the 2012-12 season. Think we're way off? Agree with our picks? Hit us up on Twitter at @BullsTalkCSN with comments or criticisms.

Tony
Mark Comments 1
Tony: The best team until somebody dethrones them.
Mark: Defending champs get even better with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis.
2

Tony: Kobe is going to will this team to come together quickly.
Mark: Best starting lineup in the league, but will bench produce enough?
3
Tony: Very Dangerous even without Harden. Will Ibaka get it together on O?
Mark: Ginobili's back injury starting to become a concern (will miss opener).
4
Tony: Will be really fun to watch. Faried will be a monster. Mark: Still the Western champs, but took a small step back losing Harden.
5
Tony: Established as an annual contender behind CP3.
Mark: Core still strong; Courtney Lee and Jason Terry will help replace Allen.
6
Tony: Can't ever count them out, despite the aging roster.
Mark: Young, rising team gets better with Iguodala. 7
Tony: Paul George could key Pacers taking the next step.
Mark: Bringing back Hill and Hibbert means Indiana will contend again in East. 8
Tony: Will be in the thick of things again, but no longer a powerhouse.
Mark: Revamped bench (and a healthy Billups) should support star-studded starting lineup.
9
Tony: Exciting offseason. Will go as far as D-Will takes them.
Mark: The loss of O.J. Mayo hurts, but Conley on the verge of stardom.
10
Tony: Losing Iguodala was big, but Collins will keep 'em contenders.
Mark: New location, new lineup, new jerseys. But will we see new results?
11
Tony: RandolphGasol frontcourt will carry this team.
Mark: Deepest frontcourt in the NBA needs production from point guard Mo Williams.
12
Tony: Thibs will keep their head above water 'til Rose's Return.
Mark: Losing Lou Williams and Iguodala hurts, but Bynum (when healthy) is finally a face to the franchise.
13
Tony: Is this the year Teague takes the next step? Could be big.
Mark: Ugly start to preseason a thing of the past, and Hinrich appears to have avoided serious injury.
14
Tony: Dirk's health will determine season.
Mark: With Horford healthy and Lou Williams on board, Hawks could be sneaky contender in East.
15
Tony: Not sold on them as a contender right now.
Mark: Amar'e will miss six weeks, and point guard (Kidd, Felton) still a question mark.
16
Tony: Hayward is an intriguing guy. Should be integral part of this team.
Mark: No Dirk for a month leaves questions, but core still in tact.
17
Tony: Season hinges on how well JenningsEllis share the ball.
Mark: Stephen Curry, Andrew Bogut's health will be a key to the season.
18
Tony: Nicolas Batum is this year's breakout star.
Mark: Jennings and Ellis form elite backcourt, but frontcourt past Ilyosova must improve.
19
Tony: Lin, Harden, Omer an interesting Big Three, to say the least.
Mark: Addition of Harden helps, but can Asik and Lin live up to their contracts?
20
Tony: Health of Curry, Bogut will dictate record.
Mark: Minnesota drops a few spots with Love (hand) and Rubio (ACL) out to start season.
21
Tony: Will be a team to watch when they get LoveRubio back.
Mark: Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge are a dynamic core, but they have little help.
22
Tony: Could surprise people. Monroe is turning into a star.
Mark: The talent is there, but they need an identity...and a defense.
23
Tony: Like their young pieces. Will they trade Varejao?
Mark: The Steve Nash-less era won't be a fun start, but Suns hoping Marshall can one day be heir apparent.
24
Tony: Will Valanciunas live up to the hype?
Mark: Anthony Davis is the real deal, but the Hornets are still a couple of years away.
25
Tony: Year 1 A.N. (After Nash). Is Dragic the answer at PG?
Mark: Addition of Kyle Lowry was a big move, but the Raptors will need help to have chance at No. 8 spot.
26
Tony: Will Cousins mature into a bonafide star?
Mark: Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe are great 1-2 duo to build around.
27
Tony: Remember when Eric Gordon played?
Mark: Kyrie Irving has the franchise in good hands, and Dion WaitersTristan Thompson are great supporters.
28
Tony: Wall's injury a severe blow to a team that should lose often.
Mark: Washington will really struggle until John Wall returns from a knee injury.
29
Tony: "Rebuilding" year after Dwight. Afflalo a nice get, though.
Mark: Dwight Howard nightmare is finally over, but the Magic got very little in return.
30
Tony: Should improve on last year's record, but not by much.
Mark: Love Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's upside, but even he can't change the Bobcats' fortunes this year.

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

rodon2624.jpg
USA TODAY

Carlos Rodon's first win in 10 months showed he could still be the ace of the future for White Sox

As encouraging as the reports are on many of the White Sox’s minor-league pitching prospects, Carlos Rodon’s effort against the Athletics on Sunday at Guaranteed Rate Field could prove just as significant to the rebuild on the South Side.

Looking much like the ace the Sox envisioned prior to Rodon’s rough 2017 season that ended with shoulder surgery, the left-hander put together his most successful effort of ’18 during a 10-3 drubbing of the Athletics before a sun-drenched crowd of 21,908.

Making his fourth start of the season, Rodon matched a career-high by going eight innings. He yielded two runs on seven hits with no walks and three strikeouts. Rodon earned his first win of the season to help the Sox salvage a split of the four-game series.

“I felt good today—a lot of strikes,” Rodon said. “It was good to go eight and just be ahead of guys.”

Helping matters for Rodon was an offensive explosion by the Sox, led by Yoan Moncada’s career-high six RBIs. After falling behind 2-0, the Sox plated five runs in each of the fifth and sixth innings as Moncada cleared the bases with a double off the base of the wall in the fifth and launched his 10th home run of the season to drive in three more an inning later.

“Today was a great day,” Moncada said via a team interpreter. “I just went out to play the game the way that I play. Just to have fun. It was a very good game for me.”

Daniel Palka and Yolmer Sanchez also homered as the Sox won for just the second time in their last 11 games.

Rodon was the happy recipient of the run support to win his first game since Aug. 21, 2017, against the Twins. On Sunday, he threw 99 pitches, 69 for strikes and was consistently in the mid-90s with his fastball.

“I’m looking to do that every time out,” Rodon said. “Just show up and establish the strike zone with the fastball and be aggressive.”

The 25-year-old’s second-inning strikeout of Khris Davis was the 400th of Rodon’s career. It is a career that is continuing after a surgery that was a setback, but one that did not derail Rodon’s confidence that he would again pitch effectively.

“There are up-and-down days when you go through shoulder surgery or any surgery for any player,” Rodon said. “You've just got to work through it and try to make your way back. I'm here now and it’s looking up and I’m trying to get better.”

So is it reasonable to view Rodon as the future ace after all?

“You certainly can’t discount that,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He has to go out there and continue to get his feet underneath him and get through the rest of the season healthy and climbing.”

In other Sox pitching news, Renteria said starter Dylan Covey, who was removed in the fifth inning of Saturday’s game due to a hip flexor injury, “felt better” Sunday and the team will continue to monitor the right-hander’s progress.

Meanwhile, veteran Miguel Gonzalez made a rehab start for Triple-A Charlotte as he continues to recover from inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Gonzalez went three innings and allowed one hit with a walk and a strikeout. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez belted his first homer for the Knights in the game.

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

The Cubs and their fans may want to invent and use one of those Men In Black neuralyzers because the four-game series in Cincinnati was one to forget.

The Reds finished off a four-game sweep of the Cubs on Sunday with an 8-6 win. The way the Reds won the finale will be especially painful for the Cubs considering they led 6-1 after six innings. Mike Montgomery appeared to tire in the seventh inning and Pedro Strop got rocked out of the bullpen to lead to a seven-run seventh for the hosts.

The Reds have now won seven in a row and 10 of 12, but still sit 13 games under .500. Bizarrely, the Reds also swept the Dodgers, the Cubs’ next opponent, in a four-game series in May. Duane Underwood will start for the Cubs Monday against the Dodgers and make his major league debut.

Here are some other wild facts and figures from the series:

  • The last time the Reds swept the Cubs in a four-game series was back in 1983. That was the first week of the season and three weeks before the infamous Lee Elia rant.
  • One positive for the Cubs from the game was Montgomery’s start. Through six innings he allowed one run on three hits and two walks. However, he gave up a single, a double and a single in the seventh before Strop relieved him. Montgomery had gone six innings and allowed one run in each of his last four outings.
  • Strop was definitely a negative. On his first pitch, Strop gave up a home run to pinch-hitter Jesse Winker, the second home run for a Reds pinch-hitter in the game. Then Strop allowed a single, a walk, a single and a double before getting an out. Strop’s final line: 2/3 inning pitched, four runs, one strikeout, three walks, four hits.
  • The Cubs led in three of the four games this series, including two leads after five innings.
  • The Cubs were 5-for-23 (.217) with runners in scoring position in the series. On the season the Cubs are hitting .233 with RISP, which is 22nd in the majors and fourth-worst in the National League (but ahead of the division-rival Brewers and Cardinals).
  • The Reds outscored the Cubs 31-13 and scored at least six runs in every game. The Reds are now 6-3 against the Cubs this year after going a combined 17-40 against the Cubs from 2015-2017.