White Sox

Jose Abreu sees importance in season's final month: 'The 2020 season, it starts in September'


Jose Abreu sees importance in season's final month: 'The 2020 season, it starts in September'

The White Sox are heading toward another sub-.500 finish, another October sitting at home and watching the postseason on TV.

But they're hoping this is the last time they'll have to do that for a while.

The myriad positives that have popped up throughout the 2019 campaign — Lucas Giolito's transformation into an All Star, Yoan Moncada's emergence as the team's best hitter, Tim Anderson's breakout season at the plate, Reynaldo Lopez's second-half surge, the big league presence of Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease, the incredible success of Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal in the minor leagues — all point to 2020 being a season in which the White Sox could be capable of making their transition from rebuilding mode to contending mode.

Whether that will actually be the case depends on what the team is able to accomplish in the offseason, as well as how to-this-point unproven youngsters with sky-high expectations like Jimenez, Cease, Robert, Madrigal and Michael Kopech perform next year.

But as for what this team can do before all that, look to the season's final month.

"The 2020 season, it starts in September," Jose Abreu said Sunday through team interpreter Billy Russo.

On one hand, that's not at all an unexpected rallying cry from Abreu, the team's leader who's said time and time again this season how excited he is for next season, to see the future of this franchise come into its own and begin to start playing meaningful games.

On the other hand, no announcement has come on whether Abreu will even be a part of the 2020 edition of the White Sox. Of course, there's tons of evidence to suggest that he will, most recently his telling the Sun-Times of a supposed guarantee he's received from team chairman Jerry Reinsdorf that he'll never wear another team's uniform. Even before that, though, Abreu's constant praise of the organization and its constant praise of him made a new contract seem like a foregone conclusion.

For many fans and outside observers, 2020 started much longer ago, as far back as the trades that shipped Chris Sale and Adam Eaton out of town and returned prospect-loaded packages that jump-started the rebuild after the 2016 season. But the guys in the White Sox clubhouse have been focused on winning games in the meantime, even if they haven't been successful the majority of the time. Still, along with all the positive signs for the future listed above, the win-loss record will end up showing a dramatic improvement when the 2019 campaign ends, a significant jump from the 95-loss and 100-loss seasons that came in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

But now the players are acknowledging a drive toward 2020, too. For Abreu, that means bringing even more of the team's young talent into the fold.

"Just to keep pushing, keep doing our best, keep trying to improve and do better every day," Abreu said through Russo. "Hoping that the young guys in the organization are going to be up. Whoever they are, just to teach them and guide them, and hopefully with their talent they can help us, too.

"The 2020 season, it starts in September. Because that's when the guys that don't have experience, the new guys, need to start learning how it is to play at this level. I think that we all are on the same page there. That's what we are trying to accomplish, just to do our best and keep pushing."

It's not too much a stretch to speculate that he might have been talking about Robert — as he might have been when he told reporters after the All-Star break that "we need to deal with what we have here until the organization gives us a chance to bring the people up that can help us here" — but whether he'll get his wish to add another young player to his wing of the clubhouse before the end of this season is still unknown. The White Sox made it clear during the last homestand that they've yet to make the final decisions on September call-ups, waiting until Triple-A Charlotte, in the midst of a playoff race, concludes its season.

Will Robert be one of them?

Abreu, intentionally or not, made the case for why Robert should get his first taste of the majors in September, talking about learning how to play at the major league level. It's not outrageous to suggest that even a few weeks of big league experience could help Robert heading into a 2020 season in which he's expected to be an important part of a potential contender.

But the same service-time issues that accompanied Jimenez through the final stages of the 2018 season exist for Robert as 2019 comes to a close. We know how the White Sox handled Jimenez last year, and they could go the same route with Robert, who general manager Rick Hahn has said has already blown away the team's expectations this season. The White Sox would never talk about service time as a factor in their decision with any player. But the argument for gaining an extra year of team control with a player like Robert is a strong one.

Whether Robert comes up or not, though, there will be other young players that arrive once Charlotte's season ends, at least one, most likely, who is expected to be a member of the team's core moving forward. Abreu can still welcome in Zack Collins, who after a mostly unsuccessful but very beneficial stint in the majors earlier this season has been on fire at Triple-A. A September call-up for Collins does figure to be of importance, to test out the offensive adjustments that have led to so much success in the minors against major league pitching moving into next season, during which he could be an important piece of the puzzle at as many as three different positions.

While we've been discussing 2020 for years now, the guys in the clubhouse, especially the ones like Abreu, so focused on the day-to-day workload, now have their sights on next year, too. And with good reason. The ingredients exist for the transition to contention mode to take place.

But it will take more than just ingredients, and Abreu knows it. It's why he wants to start cooking right now.

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.

MLB The Show: White Sox fall behind big early, drop second straight to Twins

MLB The Show: White Sox fall behind big early, drop second straight to Twins

NBC Sports Chicago is simulating the 2020 White Sox season via MLB The Show during the postponement of play. The White Sox, stocked with young talent and veteran offseason acquisitions, were expected to take a big step forward in their rebuild this season. Follow along as we play out the first few months of the season.

Result: Twins def. White Sox 10-4
Record: 28-31, 3rd in A.L. Central (4.0 GB of Twins)

W: Rich Hill (4-4)
L: Reynaldo Lopez (5-2)

Game summary: All good things must come to an end. In the case of the White Sox' winning streak, things have come to an abrupt end. A day after the Twins put up 11 runs in the first two innings, Minnesota jumped on Chicago early again.

Reynaldo Lopez failed to make it out of the fourth inning. The Twins harassed him with singles a plenty, including RBI base knocks from Alex Avila and Miguel Sano in the second and fourth innings. Then, the big blow came from Jorge Polanco, whose grand slam gave Minnesota a 7-1 lead before the final out of the fourth. Lopez' day came to an end. 

Yasmani Grandal hit a pair of solo home runs in the third and fifth. Yoan Moncada added a couple more runs on a late two-run blast but the White Sox dropped their second straight to the Twins to fall four games back of the division leaders.

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Stitcher | Art19

White Sox lineup

Edwin Encarnacion: 0-3 (.316 BA)
Eloy Jimenez: 1-4, R (.269 BA)
Yoan Moncada: 2-4, HR (12), 2 RBI, R (.261 BA)
Nick Madrigal: 1-4 (.261 BA)
Jose Abreu: 2-4, 2B (.298 BA)
Tim Anderson: 0-4 (.298 BA)
Luis Robert: 0-4 (.232 BA)
Yasmani Grandal: 3-4, 2 HR (21), 2 RBI, 2 R (.309 BA)
Nomar Mazara: 0-3 (.243 BA)

Scoring summary: 

Top first

Luis Arraez grounded into double play, Byron Buxton scored. 1-0 MIN.

Top second

Alex Avila singled to right field, Josh Donaldson scored. 2-0 MIN.

Bottom third

Yasmani Grandal homered to left field. 2-1 MIN.

Top fourth

Miguel Sano singled to left field, Eddie Rosario scored. 3-1 MIN.
Jorge Polanco homered to right field, Sano, Max Kepler and Avila scored. 7-1 MIN.
Nelson Cruz homered to center field, Arraez scored. 9-1 MIN.

Bottom fifth

Grandal homered to center field. 9-2 MIN.

Bottom sixth

Yoan Moncada homered to center field, Eloy Jimenez scored. 9-4 MIN.

Top eighth

Polanco homered to left field. 10-4 MIN.

Notable performance: With his two homers on Saturday, Grandal now has 21 on the season, which trails only teammate Eloy Jimenez for the team lead. Grandal is third in the AL in RBIs (49) and leads the league in WAR (4.5). Not too shabby for the eight-hole hitter.

Next game: Sunday, May 31 - Game 60: Twins vs White Sox (Devin Smeltzer, 6-2, 2.42 ERA vs Michael Kopech, 0-0, 3.78 ERA)

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.

White Sox 2005 Rewind: Controversies or not, dominant pitching won the ALCS

White Sox 2005 Rewind: Controversies or not, dominant pitching won the ALCS

“Realistically, I don't know if they could be pitching much better than they have.”

By the end of Game 4 of the ALCS, Joe Buck had a different way to summarize things.

“The dominance continues.”

Realistic or not, the White Sox starting rotation was just plain unhittable in the penultimate series of the 2005 season.

First it was Jose Contreras, setting the tone in a losing effort in Game 1 and coming two outs away from a complete game. Mark Buehrle followed with what he called — to that point, before the no-hitter and the perfect game — one of the best games of his career. Game 3 saw Jon Garland take the baton and stifle the Los Angeles Angels. And then it was Freddy Garcia, dealing as the White Sox cruised to a Game 4 win.

And so while the Fox broadcast spent an awful lot of time on supposed controversies, missed calls by the umpires and breaks for the White Sox, let’s face it: Those Angels weren’t hitting that pitching staff.

After the way Game 2 wrapped up, with A.J. Pierzynski swinging, missing and running to first base in a baffling display that for some reason worked, controversy was a storyline. And boy, did it get milked in Game 4.

Now, this isn’t to say that there weren’t missed calls or that the White Sox didn’t experience a couple breaks in this contest. There were. And they did.

After the Angels chopped the White Sox lead to 3-1 on an RBI hit in the second inning, they still had two men on with only one out. But instead of a rally, Steve Finley hit into an inning-ending double play. His bat, replay clearly showed, hit Pierzynski’s glove on the swing, meaning by rule he should have gone to first on catcher’s interference and loaded the bases. Instead, he turned around to argue while running out the ground ball, hence the double play.

He should have learned from Pierzynski and just busted it down to first base, leaving the details to be sorted out later. No call came, and Finley was out, the Angels’ rally stopped.

The White Sox lead back to three runs in the fifth inning, Scott Podsednik — who had a remarkable game, on base four times with two stolen bases and two runs scored — was seemingly picked off at first base. But the call was safe, and he scored later in the inning to extend a tight three-run game to a four-run game.

But did it really matter? Would any of it made a difference?

Garcia was on point, just like his three rotation-mates before him. He allowed just two runs on only six hits, walking one. He did that 2005 White Sox thing where he pitched fast, pitched to his defense and pitched the Angels into a whole bunch of outs.

You can point to the breaks all you want, attempt to stir up controversy. But the White Sox pitchers were so good that nothing was stopping them as they marched to a pennant.

The only thing that could, as we saw in Game 1 of the series, was an equally strong pitching performance on the other side. That’s exactly what Paul Byrd turned in against Contreras in that first game, and a White Sox lineup that slugged against the Red Sox in the ALDS was stymied. A sick Jarrod Washburn did his best in Game 2, with some help from a terrific crop of relievers, only for Pierzynski to flip the series on its head. In Games 3 and 4 in Anaheim, the Angels couldn’t match Garland and Garcia. An awakened group of White Sox bats hung a crooked number on John Lackey in Game 3 and had the same rude greeting for Ervin Santana — a future member of the South Side rotation, however briefly — in Game 4.

The old sports cliche goes that defense wins championships. In baseball, pitching wins championships. It did in 2005. And no amount of supposed controversy was going to change that.

Keep reliving the White Sox march to the 2005 World Series with #SoxRewind, which features Game 5 of the ALCS, airing at 7 p.m. Saturday on NBC Sports Chicago.


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.