White Sox

It sounds like Matt Davidson won't be the next Shohei Ohtani after all

1112_matt_davidson.jpg
USA TODAY

It sounds like Matt Davidson won't be the next Shohei Ohtani after all

Matt Davidson was totally serious when he talked about taking on a bigger pitching role. The White Sox, on the other hand, might not be as ready to throw one of their big bats on the mound on a regular basis.

Davidson made three relief appearances last season, helping to save the bullpen on a trio of occasions. In addition to giving up zero runs in those three innings, he got one heck of a highlight out of the experience, striking out Giancarlo Stanton in a game against the New York Yankees.

Davidson was incredibly enthusiastic about the whole thing, talking about how he grew up wanting to be a big league pitcher and how he’d love to be used in more high-leverage situations.

But general manager Rick Hahn said last week at the GM Meetings in Southern California that Davidson likely won’t be an important piece of the White Sox bullpen in 2019.

“He’s excited by the potential to add additional value to his club,” Hahn said. “I think he knows, still, his bread is buttered with the offense he provides. We’ve had conversations with Matty, we’ve had conversations with the agent about what potentially he could do in the future. And who knows, maybe someday that comes to fruition. But right now, the focus is on his offense.”

Asked if Davidson would log some innings during spring training, Hahn said:

“I don’t anticipate that right now.”

Position players pitching became somewhat of a popular practice across the game during the 2018 campaign, with managers hoping to save their regular bullpen arms in games with lopsided scores. And that’s what Rick Renteria did when he inserted Davidson into three separate games. But most of the other position players who got to pitch didn’t talk dreamily about wanting to go into full-time double duty.

With Shohei Ohtani grabbing headlines as a two-way player with the Los Angeles Angels, though, there was a concrete example of someone doing exactly that in the major leagues. And so began the speculation that Davidson maybe could do some more regular work as a reliever, the go-to guy for saving the ‘pen, so to speak, or even an option in higher-leverage situations.

But it seems like the White Sox don’t want to go down that road right now.

Davidson has enough to worry about on the offensive side of things. While he made huge strides in getting on base last season, increasing his walk total from 19 to 52 and his on-base percentage from .260 to .319, he batted just .228, struck out 165 times and saw a dip in his power numbers, hitting six fewer home runs than he did the year before and watching his slugging percentage fall to a career-low .419.

It's not to say that Davidson's pitching days are done. The strategy of pitching position players in an effort to save taxed bullpens doesn't seem to be going anywhere, so Davidson could still see action in the same type of capacity he did in 2018. But it's likely the White Sox will lean on guys who make their money as relievers when it comes to those high-leverage situations.

White Sox Talk Podcast: A.J. Reed: 'It's good to be someplace where you feel wanted'

reed-713.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: A.J. Reed: 'It's good to be someplace where you feel wanted'

Chuck Garfien and Ryan McGuffey speak with new White Sox slugger A.J. Reed.

Could he be the left power DH the White Sox have been searching for? (1:20)

Reed talks about why he feels relieved and reborn getting this opportunity with the White Sox (8:05), what's prevented him from being the major league player he wants to be (9:15), why the Astros gave up on him (14:00) and more.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

 

White Sox Talk Podcast

Subscribe:

Reynaldo Lopez offers hope for improved second half with quality start in Oakland

lopez-714.jpg
USA TODAY

Reynaldo Lopez offers hope for improved second half with quality start in Oakland

Reynaldo Lopez had a first half to forget, but the White Sox pitcher had a strong first start in the second half.

Lopez struck out seven while giving up only an unearned run in six innings of work in Oakland. He settled for a no-decision after the bullpen couldn’t hold a 2-1 lead for him.

The right-hander entered the game with the highest ERA among qualified starters. Six innings later with no earned runs and Lopez has passed that title on to Toronto’s Aaron Sanchez.

Only one other time this season has Lopez had a start without allowing an earned run. That was April 28 against Detroit when Lopez struck out 14 batters in six innings.

He threw 62 of his 93 pitches for strikes and got 17 swinging strikes. The swinging strikes were below his season average whiff rate, which was 22.6 percent entering Sunday, but he threw far more strikes than his season average.

Lopez, 25, got fans excited with a decent 2018 season that featured a 3.91 ERA. However, his strikeout rate is up (8.05 K/9 in 2019 vs. 7.2 in 2018) and walk rate is down (3.46 BB/9 in 2019 vs. 3.58 in 2018) compared to last year. He’s just getting hit much harder this season.

It was just one start, but Lopez offered some hope for him being a different pitcher in the second half, as he said after his previous start on July 4.

Meanwhile, the White Sox lost 3-2 to complete a series sweep for the A’s. Eloy Jimenez hit a go-ahead home run in the seventh, but the A’s answered with a Ramon Laureano solo shot off Evan Marshall in the bottom half. Then, the A’s opened the ninth with a pair of blooped singles and won the game on a throwing error by Jose Rondon.

The White Sox were also swept in Oakland last year and have lost eight straight in Oakland Coliseum.

 

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.