White Sox

Multiple All Stars for the White Sox? Not a crazy thought through 2019's first two months

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USA TODAY

Multiple All Stars for the White Sox? Not a crazy thought through 2019's first two months

The White Sox are still rebuilding, still owners of a sub-.500 record, but progress has been pretty hard to miss through the season’s first two months.

With All-Star balloting officially underway, will that progress manifest itself in the form of multiple All-Star bids for the South Siders?

It’s not a crazy thought.

The team boasted just one All Star in 2018, which ended with the White Sox losing 100 games. Jose Abreu was elected the starting first baseman for the American League, but there wasn’t much argument to be made that the White Sox deserved more than one player on the squad. In fact, 2018 was the worst statistical season of Abreu’s career to this point, but a lack of competition made him the pick at first base.

This year, the level of competition doesn’t matter as much, because there are four or five or more White Sox with great claims to being included on the AL All-Star roster.

Ironically, while the White Sox join every team in baseball in launching their “get out the vote” campaign, the player with the best case for an All-Star nod is an unelectable pitcher. Lucas Giolito has been fantastic in 2019, with a stellar May vaulting him into the category of the best pitchers in the Junior Circuit. His 2.85 ERA ranks eighth in the AL, and his 69 strikeouts rank 12th. He might be on his way to AL Pitcher of the Month honors thanks to a 1.74 ERA and 46 strikeouts in six May starts.

When it comes to players fans can actually vote for, Tim Anderson probably has the best case for an All-Star bid. He entered Friday night’s game against the Cleveland Indians still the American League leader in batting average, with a .337 clip. He took home AL Player of the Month honors for April, and he’s been in baseball’s national spotlight thanks to his mission to inject more fun into the game. If the league truly wants to “let the kids play,” then including Anderson in the All-Star festivities would be a good thing.

Abreu is up to his usual tricks again, the AL leader in RBIs when the sun came up on the last day of May. He’s got a .523 slugging percentage to go along with his 15 home runs and those 49 RBIs, and while the first-base competition is a little stronger than last year — Dan Vogelbach and C.J. Cron might have something to say about who ends up starting — Abreu still has as good a case as anyone. It wouldn’t be a shock to see him there again in July.

Positional competition, however, could be a factor in whether or not James McCann gets into the All-Star Game. The White Sox catcher is having an excellent season, no doubt about it, with a .346 batting average and a .384 on-base percentage. Those are some of the best numbers among AL catchers, but there are other worthy backstops, chiefly Mitch Garver and Gary Sanchez. The former is reaching base at an insane .418 clip, and the latter has already mashed 17 homers, almost twice as many as Garver’s nine. But there’s no question that McCann deserves consideration.

Then there’s Yoan Moncada, whose accomplishments to this point haven’t been as gaudy as the previously mentioned quartet of White Sox. But he’s been solid, with a .280/.333/.491 heading into Friday’s game, and he’s one of just five AL third basemen with double-digit homers. Plus, there’s a lot of season left before the All-Star rosters are finalized, meaning a hot streak could make him just as attractive as anyone. We’ll have to wait and see for that. Bottom line: It’s been a good season for Moncada.

Oh, and that’s before even getting to Alex Colome and some of the other shut-down arms in the White Sox bullpen. Colome’s been dominant, with only four AL closers in possession of more saves than his 11. He’s given up only four runs, and opposing batters are hitting just .110 against him. Aaron Bummer and Evan Marshall haven’t logged too many innings, but they’ve given up a combined one run on the season. Not too shabby.

It’s unlikely, of course, that the White Sox will send eight players to Cleveland for the Midsummer Classic. But suggesting that multiple players could be representing the White Sox at the All-Star Game is nowhere near out of the question, something that should stand as another example of progress as the 2019 season continues to look a whole heck of a lot better than the 2018 one.

“We've had some guys who've been doing very, very well,” manager Rick Renteria said Friday, presented with the idea of several All-Star worthy White Sox. “I think Pito's doing well. Timmy's doing well. We have some pitchers, Lucas, who's been doing well. Yoan's starting to come around.

“A lot of these guys are putting themselves on the map in terms of who they are as individuals, compared to the rest of the major league scene, in terms of players who play the same positions. I'm glad that at least Major League Baseball and kind of the world is starting to see who these guys are. I think it's exciting.

“They should be excited about it. They deserve it. They're working toward that. But as a Chicago White Sock fan and the manager of the Chicago White Sox, I'm extremely happy that at least these young men are starting to get some accolades, that people are starting to see that these guys can play.”

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

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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.

 

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White Sox activate Dylan Covey from IL, designate Juan Minaya for assignment

White Sox activate Dylan Covey from IL, designate Juan Minaya for assignment

The White Sox starting rotation received a boost on Saturday in the form of Dylan Covey.

Ahead of Saturday's game against the Athletics, the White Sox activated Covey from the 10-day injured list. In a corresponding move, the team designated reliever Juan Minaya for assignment.

Covey, who will start Saturday's game, landed on the injured list on June 9 with right shoulder inflammation. Although Covey holds a 4.58 ERA in nine games (seven starts) this season, he posted back-to-back solid outings before hitting the shelf. He allowed one earned run in six innings on May 31 against the Indians and two earned runs in five innings on June 5 against the Nationals.

The White Sox starting rotation has been a revolving door of sorts this season as Michael Kopech and Carlos Rodon recover from Tommy John surgery. Since Covey went down, the team has started Odrisamer Despaigne (June 10, 16 and 22), Manny Bañuelos (June 11 and 15), Carson Fulmer (June 25, though in a bullpen day) and most recently Ross Detwiler (June 28 and July 3). Dylan Cease has since made his major league debut, too, of course.

Detwiler has pitched admirably, allowing just two earned runs in each of his two outings. Whether he will continue to start or move to the bullpen is yet to be seen, though the fact that Minaya was DFA-ed rather than Detwiler says something.

Minaya holds a 3.90 ERA in 22 games/27 2/3 innings this season, though 10 of the 12 earned runs he's allowed this season came in June and July.

Following today's moves, the White Sox 40-man roster now stands at 39.

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