White Sox

Who Knew: Lucas Giolito back to his 2019 normal, Abreu climbs HR list, White Sox face an Aussie

giolito-701.jpg
USA TODAY

Who Knew: Lucas Giolito back to his 2019 normal, Abreu climbs HR list, White Sox face an Aussie

Happy halfway point!

The White Sox have played 81 of their 162 games this season and there’s a day off. With a day off, you need something to read. And with that, I present a collection of White Sox nuggets from the last week.

  • On Sunday, Lucas Giolito looked like the Lucas Giolito we have become used to in 2019. He now has an MLB-high 11 wins to go along with 115 strikeouts. He’s one of four pitchers in White Sox history with 11 wins and 110 strikeouts before the all-star break, joining Chris Sale (2016), Wilbur Wood (1972, 1973) and Juan Pizarro (1963).
  • It’s pretty amazing that the White Sox have managed a 39-42 record this season. Lucas Giolito has posted a stellar 2.72 ERA in his 16 starts. However, in the other 65 games this season, White Sox starters have had a less-than-ideal 6.15 ERA. Credit to this team for scratching and clawing their way through thus far.
  • James McCann is headed to his first career All-Star Game. He has an excellent .319/.376/.514 slashline with nine home runs. Of those nine home runs, five are off pitchers who have been all-stars. David Price (five-time all-star), Trevor Bauer (2018 all-star), Jon Lester (five-time all-star), Chris Sale (seven-time all-star) and José Berríos (2018 all-star).
  • José Abreu recently took over the seventh spot on the White Sox career home run list with 165. Of the eight AL franchises which have been around since the early 1900s, here are the other players seventh on franchise home run lists:

Yankees: Bernie Williams, Tigers: Lou Whitaker, Red Sox: Mo Vaughn, Browns/Orioles: Rafael Palmeiro, Indians: Andre Thornton, A’s: Al Simmons, Senators/Twins: Kirby Puckett.

  • The White Sox faced Australian lefty Lewis Thorpe yesterday, who made his MLB debut. It was the first time the White Sox had a Thorpe as an opponent since Olympic legend Jim Thorpe of the Giants in Game 5 of the 1917 World Series… kind of.

Thorpe was penciled in the starting lineup as the Giants starting rightfielder, but was pulled for a pinch hitter in the top of the first inning before he could get on the field.

  • Remember when Eloy Jiménez hit each of his first eight Major League home runs on the road and went homerless in each of his first 18 career games at Guaranteed Rate Field?

Well, in his eight home games since he’s hitting .333/.394/.867 with five home runs, eight runs and 11 RBIs.

Also worth noting: Eloy’s 14 home runs rank third in White Sox history among players in their first 57 career MLB games, behind José Abreu (19) and Zeke Bonura (14).

  • Hopefully, Yoán Moncada has found a home in the No. 2 spot in the order. When hitting there this season, he’s slashing .332/.388/.600 in 48 games.

From 2012-18, the White Sox had consistently struggled getting production out of that spot, putting up an anemic .242/.291/.358 slashline over that seven-year span.

  • Two White Sox players this season have had a streak of five games with both a hit and an RBI. One is Moncada.

The other one is Jon Jay, who has played only six games with the team. He went 0-2 with a walk and sacrifice in his White Sox debut, but in each of the last five games, he has had at least one hit and an RBI. He has been great.

 

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 free agent focus: Turning to Marcell Ozuna to fill out the outfield

White Sox free agent focus: Turning to Marcell Ozuna to fill out the outfield

Baseball free agency is heating up as the weather gets colder. This week we are breaking down 10 potential free-agent targets for the White Sox ahead of the Winter Meetings.

Marcell Ozuna, OF, Cardinals

Age: 29

2019 salary: $12,250,000

2019 stats: .241 BA, .328 OBP, .472 SLG, .800 OPS, 29 HR, 89 RBI, 80 R, 12/14 SB 

What Ozuna would bring to the White Sox

Ozuna appeared on the verge of becoming an elite star like Anthony Rendon after a breakout season in 2017 with the Marlins. Ozuna came up at 22 and had decent years early in his career. He improved upon his first few years with 37 home runs, 124 RBIs and a .924 OPS as a 26-year-old.

Unlike Rendon, who broke through in 2017 and has sustained that for three seasons now, Ozuna's breakout year appears to be more of a flash in the pan. Ozuna was traded to the Cardinals before the 2018 season and saw a dropoff in his production.

His power and walk rate took big dips in 2018, although he bounced back in both last season. However, he hit .241, which was the lowest batting average of his career.

Ozuna had a career-high walk rate (11.3%) and had the second-best extra-base hit and home run rates of his career (he was only better in those areas in 2017). His strikeout rate (20.8%) was in line with his career average. So what went wrong? His batting average of balls in play was a career-worst .257, which suggests that maybe he's due for some form of bounce back in 2020 as far as batting average.

To simplify all that, Ozuna was good in some areas and inexplicably poor (and maybe unlucky) in others. Does that mean he will return to his big 2017 year wherever he signs? Probably not, but it does help to alleviate some of the feeling of risk for a player who has been inconsistent in his career.

Defensively, Ozuna has a Gold Glove on his resume from 2017, but the stats say he's just an average fielder. Not to mention, he's become infamous for this fielding gaffe.


What it would take to get him

He's young with a mostly positive track record offensively and if he can recreate his 2017 season offensively, he's an all-star outfielder. He won't be cheap, but he has enough question marks to come up just short of $20 million per year.

Ozuna should be able to get four or five years in the mid-to-upper teens per year, similar to fellow outfield free agent Nicholas Castellanos.

Why it's a fit for the White Sox

The White Sox need a corner outfielder. He fills a position of need, adds depth, patience and power to the lineup and won't be a liability in the field.

Ozuna isn't the splashiest signing the White Sox could make, but it makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons.

Latest rumors

White Sox add flamethrowing Tayron Guerrero to bullpen

1206_tayron_guerrero.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox add flamethrowing Tayron Guerrero to bullpen

The White Sox added a flamethrower to their bullpen.

Tayron Guerrero is the newest member of the White Sox relief corps, the team claiming the 28-year-old right-hander off waivers from the Miami Marlins on Friday.

Guerrero's most eye-catching attribute is his triple-digit fastball. He averaged 98.9 mph on his four-seam fastball in 2019 and threw the second most 100-mph pitches (178) of any pitcher in baseball. He posted a 10.6 K/9 in 2018.

But throwing hard and giving up runs are two different things. In 2019, Guerrero had a 6.26 ERA, a number that jumped up from the already less-than-ideal 5.43 ERA he turned in a year prior. He also had some trouble locating said fireball, walking 36 batters in 46 relief innings in 2019 for a ridiculously high 7.0 BB/9.

Still, this type of addition was signaled as perhaps the primary way the White Sox would add to their bullpen this offseason. With so many other items on Rick Hahn's offseason to-do list and the back end of the bullpen being a pretty stable part of the roster, the general manager said that small signings and waiver claims would continue to be part of the strategy when it comes to making additions to the relief corps.

Hahn referenced the team's acquisitions of Evan Marshall, who was signed to a minor league contract last winter, and Jimmy Cordero, who was claimed off waivers in the middle of the 2019 season, as moves to emulate going forward.

"All 30 teams will tell you ... that adding more bullpen pieces is an offseason priority, and we're no exception," Hahn said during his end-of-season press conference in September. "Cordero's been a nice find, as has been Marshall, but that's not going to stop us from continuing to potentially take guys off waivers like Cordero or (sign) minor league free agents like Marshall.

"It's going to go into this offseason continuing to be a place we want to add because relievers are tricky. You see it every year, guys go from the top of the list to the bottom and back."

As Hahn frequently says, you can never have too much pitching, and while this might be a low-risk move, it could end up proving fruitful, as those Cordero and Marshall moves did.

Spending on money on more proven guys has also been a part of the White Sox strategy in this department in the recent past. Hahn's front office gave Kelvin Herrera a two-year deal just last winter. But as Herrera showed during a rough first year of that contract, even guys with good track records can lead to easy second-guessing on those kinds of deals. So building up depth through less splashy means figures to be a good idea, regardless of the results.

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.