Showing posts with label Carson Fulmer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Carson Fulmer. Show all posts

Monday, October 2, 2017

It could have been worse: White Sox finish 2017 with 67-95 record

Jose Abreu
Here's a sentence that I might not type again for the rest of my life: The 2017 White Sox exceeded expectations by finishing 67-95.

Through 118 games, the Sox were 45-73 and appeared to be on their way to 100 losses. And nobody would have been shocked or unhappy if they had lost 100. Established veterans such as Jose Quintana, David Robertson, Todd Frazier and Melky Cabrera were traded in July. Competent bullpen arms such as Tommy Kahnle, Dan Jennings and Anthony Swarzak also were shown the door.

After all that, I never would have guessed the Sox would have a winning September -- they went 15-14 -- nor would I have believed they would go 22-22 in their last 44 games. But that's exactly what they did, and you have to give manager Rick Renteria and his staff some credit. He had guys playing hard and playing the right way all the way up to the very end, and the Sox were able to crawl out of last place while the Detroit Tigers (64-98) tanked and finished with the worst record in the league.

The Sox will draft No. 4 overall in the 2018 entry draft, instead of first, as many had hoped. I can live with that, because their late-season competency wasn't led by a group of mediocre veterans. The younger players who are supposed to be a part of the future -- Tim Anderson, Yoan Moncada, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Carson Fulmer -- all had some positive moments that contributed to winning. You want to see that progress and that development. It's the most important thing for a team that is in the Sox's position.

However, in recent weeks, I have heard some Sox fans getting a little too exuberant about the team's hopes for 2018. It has been pointed out that the Minnesota Twins, who were 59-103 at this time a year ago, rebounded to 85-77 and won the second wild card in the American League. That's led some to ask the question, "Why can't the Sox author a similar turnaround next year?"

That's a noble thought, but it's just not likely. Despite some of the positives we've seen as of late, the Sox have very little talent in their bullpen. In order to contend next season, they would have to buy at least three and maybe four relief arms in free agency, and I don't see that being a prudent course of action at this stage. They've committed to the rebuild, so stay the course.

Looking ahead to 2018, here's my best guess at how things might break down at each position:

Catcher: There's a pretty good chance both Kevan Smith and Omar Narvaez are back next year. Smith hit .283, Narvaez hit .277. We haven't seen that sort of offensive competency from Sox catchers since A.J. Pierzynski left, and neither Smith nor Narvaez embarrassed themselves defensively. Both are probably better options at the position than dumpster diving in free agency.

First base: Jose Abreu enjoyed one of his finest seasons in 2017. He hit .304 with 33 home runs and 102 RBIs. He had 343 total bases and posted a .906 OPS. I've often heard people say the Sox should keep Abreu around to be "a mentor and leader" for young Latino players. It is true that Abreu can be that guy, but keeping him on the club just for that reason sells him short. This guy has had 100 or more RBIs for four straight seasons with not a lot of help. Perhaps the Sox should keep him because he's one of the best in the game at his position.

Second base: Moncada's .231 average reflects the struggles he had when he was first called up to the majors. I said we needed to see a hot streak from this guy before the year ended, and sure enough, we saw one. He hit .276 with an .818 OPS and five home runs after Sept. 1. Something to build on for a player who needs to be a core piece in order for the Sox's rebuild to work.

Shortstop: Anderson's second-half OPS (.732) was a full 100 points higher than his first-half OPS (.632), and he hit .327 in September to raise his season batting average to .257. Eight of his 17 home runs and nine of his 15 stolen bases came after Aug. 1. Signs of progress. Next year is a big year for Anderson. He had a good rookie season. He struggled much of his second year before finishing strong. Consider 2018 the tiebreaker season to give us a read on what type of player Anderson truly is.

Third base: As it stands right now, I think Yolmer Sanchez is the guy. He's the best defensive infielder the Sox have, and he hit .267/.319/.413 with 12 home runs and 59 RBIs. That was more production that I ever expected from Sanchez, and he outplayed both Matt Davidson and Tyler Saladino by a wide margin. Sure, Davidson hit 26 home runs, but that's all he does. The .220 batting average and .260 on-base percentage are not impressive, and Davidson doesn't give you much with the glove. Back problems seem to be ruining Saladino's career, as he hit .178 with no home runs in 79 games this year. After a promising 2016, Saladino is perhaps on his way out the door. That's a cautionary tale not to get too excited about Sanchez, I suppose. Long-term, though, I see Sanchez as a valuable bench player on a contender. I think he still can start on next year's Sox team.

Outfield: I'll go on the record: Keep Avisail Garcia. I know some Sox fans want to "sell high," but they are assuming that clubs out there will want to "buy high." I don't know if there will be any takers at a high price. As Sox fans, we don't necessarily believe Garcia can hit .330 again next year. If we don't believe it, why would rival GMs? I'm in favor of putting Garcia in right field for 2018. He won't hit .330, but I'll settle for .280 with 20 home runs and 80 RBIs. I think he can do that, and while the Sox have outfield prospects in the system, none will be ready for the start of next season. Adam Engel and Leury Garcia will probably vie for playing time in center field. Engel is good with the glove, but can't hit at all, and Leury Garcia keeps getting hurt. They are stopgap solutions, but that's good enough for now. I wouldn't mind seeing the Sox add a stopgap corner outfield veteran to play left field in case Nick Delmonico's surprising late-season performance with the bat is a mirage. Not to mention, Delmonico is subpar with the glove, so I don't know that I want to give him 140 games in left field.

Designated hitter: Would a platoon of Davidson and Delmonico be reasonable to start 2018?

Starting pitching: I think I know three of the five coming into next season: Giolito, Lopez and James Shields. Giolito was better than expected in seven late-season starts, going 3-3 with a 2.38 ERA. The Sox hope he is part of their present and future, so let him pitch. Ditto with Lopez, whose performance (3-3, 4.72 ERA in eight starts) was more uneven than Giolito's, but promising at times. Shields is a veteran with a bad contract, and veterans with bad contracts tend to stay right where they are. Fulmer had a rough season at Triple-A Charlotte, then surprised by going 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA in seven late-season appearances (five starts). I think Fulmer competes for a rotation spot in the spring, but he didn't show enough over the course of the year for me to be confident that he's one of the five for 2018. Carlos Rodon was limited to 12 starts this season because of shoulder problems. Now, he's out six to eight months after shoulder surgery. I never felt the Sox were being truthful about the extent of Rodon's injury. Maybe we'll see him in May or June of next year, or maybe not. You can't count on him, and I think the Sox need to sign two stopgap veterans on short-term deals to fill out the rotation. I've heard Sox fans call for the team to sign a "Derek Holland type." Frankly, I'd prefer a "Miguel Gonzalez type," since Gonzalez did that job for the Sox in 2017, while Holland failed miserably after a respectable first two months.

Relief pitching: Who do you keep from this morass? You can't sign a whole new bullpen, so you gotta keep somebody. I'll keep Juan Minaya, Aaron Bummer and Greg Infante. I'm not overly impressed with any of them, but they are the best of a bad lot. Nate Jones has a contract for next season, and he's coming off a second elbow surgery. Fingers crossed that he can provide some veteran stability, but you can't count on that. Jake Petricka and Zach Putnam are always injured. It's time to move on from them. Beyond that, who knows? Is stinks that Zack Burdi is going to miss 2018 after elbow surgery. He would have been in the major league bullpen, and that would have been one more young guy to watch.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

White Sox avoid infamy, split four games with Detroit

Matt Boyd
The White Sox scored 29 runs through the first three games of their four-game weekend series against the Detroit Tigers.

So, naturally, on Sunday, they went out and nearly got no-hit by one of the worst starting pitchers in the American League -- Detroit left-hander Matt Boyd.

Boyd retired 26 of the first 27 hitters he faced in a 12-0 victory, with Rob Brantly being the only man to reach base on a walk with two outs in the top of the third inning.

Alas, Sox shortstop Tim Anderson broke up the no-hit bid with a two-out double in the top of the ninth. The Sox are lucky the Tigers had a third baseman (Nick Castellanos) playing right field, because a good outfielder might have run down Anderson's liner into the right-center field gap.

Boyd finished with a one-hitter, and that will be forgotten about by next week -- if it hasn't been forgotten about already. No-hitters live forever, and it would have been embarrassing for the Sox to be no-hit by Boyd, who is 6-10 with a 5.33 ERA this season.

Crazy thing is, Boyd had been 0-4 with a 6.13 ERA in eight previous career starts against the Sox. Normally, I look forward to seeing Boyd on the mound, so I have no idea how he managed to pitch a one-hitter in Sunday's game.

Here's a look back at the rest of the series:

Thursday, Sept. 14
White Sox 17, Tigers 7: The Sox pounded 25 hits, including 21 singles, and forced the Tigers to use eight pitchers.

It was a career day for right fielder Avisail Garcia, who went 5 for 5 with a three-run homer and seven RBIs. The top five hitters in the Sox lineup combined for 19 hits. Yoan Moncada had four hits, including a home run, and scored five runs. Jose Abreu had four hits, three runs scored and two RBIs. Anderson went 3 for 7 with two runs scored and two RBIs, and Matt Davidson went 3 for 5 with three RBIs. It was quite an offensive display.

And, Tyler Saladino went 0 for 6. Hey, somebody has gotta make the outs, right?

The Sox got a decent outing from James Shields (4-6), who allowed four runs over six innings and struck out seven. With that kind of run support, even the erstwhile Shields is a good bet to pick up a victory.

Friday, Sept. 15
Tigers 3, White Sox 2: There were two positive signs the Sox could take out of this loss. First and foremost, they got a second consecutive good start from Carson Fulmer.

Fulmer went six innings, allowing one run on four hits. He struck out five and walked only one. The right-hander allowed only one run in six innings in his previous start against the San Francisco Giants, so it's possible Fulmer has found something after struggling for much of the year at Triple-A Charlotte.

Or, perhaps Fulmer just capitalized on pitching against two bad teams in San Francisco and Detroit. His next scheduled start should be against AL West champion Houston, so that might provide a better measure of Fulmer's progress.

The other positive sign? Moncada homered for the second straight game. The prized prospect has been swinging the bat better of late.

The bullpen combination of Al Alburquerque (0-2), Aaron Bummer and Juan Minaya coughed this game up by allowing a run in the bottom of the ninth inning, but what else would you expect from that group?

Saturday, Sept. 16
White Sox 10, Tigers 4: The Sox scored six runs in the first two innings and went on to total 17 hits in a lopsided win.

Anderson went 4 for 5 with two runs scored, Moncada collected two more hits, Nick Delmonico connected for his eighth home run of the season, and Abreu is up to 97 RBIs after he knocked in two more runs in this game.

The run support was useful for right-hander Reynaldo Lopez (2-3), who struggled early but settled in to throw seven innings. The Tigers got three off Lopez in the second inning, but only one the rest of the way.

Lopez, Fulmer and Lucas Giolito all have two wins each since being called up from Charlotte. All of them are at least contenders for rotation spots in the 2018 season.

Sunday, Sept. 17
Tigers 12, White Sox 0: We already talked about this terrible game, so can I just say Dylan Covey is NOT a contender for a rotation spot in the 2018 season and move on?

Thanks.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Lucas Giolito's first outing not 'excellent,' but respectable

Manager Rick Renteria overstated it when he called Lucas Giolito's first start with the White Sox "excellent." Nevertheless, there were several positives to take from the outing, even though Giolito and the Sox lost, 4-1, to the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday night.

Here is Giolito's final line: 6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 Ks, 0 BBs, 3 HRs

Notice that I bolded the no walks. The quickest way to endear yourself to me as a pitcher is to throw strikes and get after people. I was satisfied that Giolito did that. He threw 64 of his 99 pitches for strikes, which is a ratio that is above league average. The Minnesota hitters might have beaten him, sure, but he didn't give anything away.

The other thing that stood out about Giolito is that he managed to survive six innings without anything resembling his best stuff. When he's right, the curveball is an out pitch for him. Based on my observations, and the postgame comments I've read, Giolito's curveball was nearly useless in this game. He had to rely almost exclusively on a fastball-changeup combination.

Of his 99 pitches, he threw 69 fastballs, 16 changeups, 12 curves and two sliders. He could not grab any strikes with his breaking ball, so he was relying mostly on fastball command.

And, for the most part, Giolito's fastball command was good. Unfortunately, he did make a few mistakes, and he gave up three home runs, all to left-handed hitters -- Jorge Polanco, Kennys Vargas and Eddie Rosario. Those homers accounted for all four runs allowed.

That's the thing about pitching in the big leagues: You gotta have something to get hitters off your fastball. It doesn't matter how good the fastball is, if they know it's coming, you better have precise location or you're going to get hit. On those three occasions, Giolito didn't have precise location, and he got hit.

In each case, he appeared to be trying to come inside and missed out over the plate. That's a teachable moment for pitching coach Don Cooper. He can show Giolito that and say, "If you're going to miss, miss in."

Hopefully, Giolito will be able to throw his curve for strikes next time he takes the mound. If he can, he might get away with a mistake or two with the fastball, because a few curves for strikes force the opponent to honor the breaking pitch. Last night, I think the Minnesota hitters just subtracted the breaking ball from their thinking and sat on Giolito's heater, which is good (91-93 mph) but not overpowering.

Despite the loss, Giolito showed plenty to earn himself another start, and it was nice to see, especially coming on the heels of Carson Fulmer's discouraging outing Monday night.

As Sox fans, we all want to see these touted prospects jump up and earn their place on the roster. Ideally, Giolito will show well enough to be in the big-league rotation in 2018. Even if the outing Tuesday was not "excellent," let's call it a good first step.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Most doubleheaders are split, including the one Monday night

Carlos Rodon
It was just last week that we suggested the White Sox try Juan Minaya as closer. He's got the highest strikeout rate of any pitcher in the Sox bullpen, and hey, what else is there to lose?

Apparently, manager Rick Renteria thought the same thing. Minaya has closed out three Sox victories since Friday -- two over the weekend against the Texas Rangers, and one against the Minnesota Twins on Monday night.

The Sox took the opener of Monday's doubleheader with the Twins, 7-6, before Minnesota cruised to a 10-2 victory in Game 2.

It was nice to see Minaya come through with a 1-2-3 ninth inning to preserve a win for starter Carlos Rodon (2-4), who has racked up five strong starts in a row.

This time, Rodon went 6.1 innings, allowing two runs on four hits. He struck out nine and walked three. At one point in time, he retired 10 out of 11 hitters. Most importantly, he minimized the damage in a bases-loaded, one-out situation in the sixth inning. He allowed only a sacrifice fly, and he walked off the mound with one out in the seventh with his team leading 7-2.

Alas, the bullpen follies continued for the Sox. The Twins nicked Danny Farquhar for a run in that seventh inning, and then Derek Holland surrendered a three-run homer to the great Jorge Polanco in the top of the eighth.

I don't know what the Sox are going to do with Holland, who got shelled in his most recent start in Texas. In this relief appearance, he faced four batters and retired only one. If there were more options available, I'd call for the Sox to designate Holland for assignment. Alas, there aren't many pitchers left in the high minors whom the Sox could call up.

Fortunately, Minaya shut it down in the ninth. He didn't allow the ball to leave the infield in recording his third save.

The Sox's No. 3 through No. 6 hitters combined to go 6 for 13 with six runs scored and all seven RBIs. Jose Abreu hit his team-best 25th home run of the season. Avisail Garcia had three hits, and Yolmer Sanchez tied a career high with four RBIs, those coming on a three-run homer and a sacrifice fly.

Game 2 saw Carson Fulmer make his 2017 Sox debut, and as feared, it was a clunker. He had a 5.61 ERA in 24 starts at Triple-A Charlotte this year, so I was expecting much. But this start was painful to watch even with low expectations.

Fulmer worked a 1-2-3 first inning on seven pitches, but his fortunes turned quickly in the second inning. He threw 41 pitches and recorded only one out. Worse, he gave up a pair of three-run homers, one to the aforementioned Polanco and one to Brian Dozier. He exited with the Sox trailing 6-0.

His final line: 1.1 IP, 4 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 0 Ks

Fulmer's command was terrible. Not only was he wild with walks, he was wild in the zone. He missed locations by feet, not inches, with his fastball. His breaking ball was elevated and hanging. The Twins tagged him, and such a poor outing is only going to increase questions about whether Fulmer should make the move to the bullpen.

I always say a young pitcher is a starter until he shows me he is not, and I'm getting pretty close to saying Fulmer is not a starting pitcher.

The Sox had no prayer in this second game. They managed only three hits, although two of them were solo home runs. Nick Delmonico connected for his sixth of the season, and Adam Engel hit his fourth.

After the game, Fulmer was mercifully sent back to Charlotte. Brad Goldberg also was optioned back to Charlotte, clearing a roster spot for Lucas Giolito, who will make his Sox debut in Wednesday's game against the Twins.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Baseball America updates list of top White Sox prospects

With the Jose Quintana trade in the past and the White Sox getting swept at home by the Seattle Mariners over the weekend, the 2017 season is starting to feel even more rebuild-y.

I'm not one to get overly enthusiastic about prospects, but if you're so inclined, Baseball America has updated its list of top-10 Sox prospects:

1. Yoan Moncada, 2B
2. Eloy Jimenez, OF
3. Michael Kopech, RHP
4. Luis Robert, OF
5. Reynaldo Lopez, RHP
6. Lucas Giolito, RHP
7. Dylan Cease, RHP
8. Jake Burger, 3B
9. Dane Dunning, RHP
10. Alec Hansen, RHP

Of note, only Hansen was a member of the Sox organization before last December. Moncada and Kopech were acquired in the Chris Sale deal. Jimenez and Cease were acquired in the Quintana deal. Robert was an international free agent signing earlier this spring. Lopez, Giolito and Dunning all were acquired in the Adam Eaton deal. Burger was the Sox's No. 1 pick in the June draft.

There have been some changes since December. Here's how the list looked then:

1. Moncada, 2B/3B
2. Giolito, RHP
3. Lopez, RHP
4. Zack Collins, C
5. Kopech, RHP
6. Zack Burdi, RHP
7. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF
8. Carson Fulmer, RHP
9. Spencer Adams, RHP
10. Dunning, RHP

Burdi fell off the list because he had Tommy John surgery and is out until 2019. Collins has seen his stock fall with the .216/.366/.414 slash line he's posted at Class-A Winston-Salem this season.

Fulmer has had a bad season, too. The former first-round draft pick is 1-5 with a 7.90 ERA over the past two months at Triple-A Charlotte. He was 5-1 with a 2.72 ERA in April, but not much has gone right since. It might be time to abandon the "Fulmer is a starter" experiment and move him to the role a lot of people believe is his future: high-leverage reliever.

Adams and Basabe dropped off the list, as well, but I don't know that I ever saw them as anything more than midlevel prospects anyway. It stands to reason they would drop on these lists with the Sox adding Jimenez, Robert and Burger in recent months.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Latest statistics for notable White Sox prospects

I didn't have time Monday to break down the White Sox's three losses to the Detroit Tigers over the weekend. And really, what is there to say? They got outscored, 32-10, in the series, and got beaten in embarrassing fashion.

So, let's move on to other things that stink, such Yoan Moncada's 5-for-40 tailspin since coming off the disabled list May 26. The Sox's top prospect is 2 for 22 in June with seven strikeouts.

The combination of the injury and this slump has slowed down the drumbeat for him to be called up to the majors. That's for sure.

Since the last time we did that exercise, I've determined that none of the hitters at Birmingham are worth following. Trey Michalczewski was demoted to Class-A Winston-Salem, and Courtney Hawkins doesn't qualify as a prospect for me anymore.

I've also knocked Alex Call off the Winston-Salem list, since he is hurt and hasn't played since April.

All statistics are through games of June 5:

Charlotte Knights (26-30, 3rd place in International League South)

Moncada, 2B: .285/.366/.436, 6 HRs, 18 RBIs, 57 Ks, 24 BBs, 12 SBs, 179 ABs
Jacob May, OF:.290/.362/.427, 3 HRs, 9 RBIs, 32 Ks, 12 BBs, 4 SBs, 124 ABs
Nick Delmonico, 3B: .282/.362/.491, 9 HRs, 32 RBIs, 40 Ks, 25 BBs, 2 SBs, 216 ABs
Reynaldo Lopez, RHP: 5-2, 3.81 ERA, 59 IP, 52 H, 30 R, 25 ER, 60 Ks, 27 BBs, 1.34 WHIP
Carson Fulmer, RHP: 5-3, 4.63 ERA, 58.1 IP, 55 H, 36 R, 30 ER, 44 Ks, 27 BBs, 1.41 WHIP
Lucas Giolito, RHP: 2-5, 4.95 ERA, 56.1 IP 55 H , 33 ER, 31 ER, 57 Ks, 27 BBs, 1.46 WHIP
Zack Burdi, RHP:  0-4, 4.64 ERA, 21.1 IP, 21 H, 13 R, 11 ER, 32 Ks, 10 BBs, 1.45 WHIP, 5 saves

Birmingham Barons (19-36, 4th place in Southern League North)

Michael Kopech, RHP: 4-3, 2.93 ERA, 58.1 IP, 33 H, 22 R, 19 ER, 80 Ks, 36 BBs, 1.18 WHIP
Spencer Adams, RHP: 3-6, 3.93 ERA, 66.1 IP, 77 H, 32 R, 29 ER, 50 Ks, 7 BBs, 1.27 WHIP
Jordan Stephens, RHP: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 6 Ks, 1 BB, 0.33 WHIP

Winston-Salem Dash (19-38, 4th place in Carolina League South)

Michalczewski, 3B: .311.343/607, 4 HRs, 12 RBIs, 16 Ks, 4 BBs, 1 SB, 61 ABs
Zack Collins, C: ..230/.392/.455, 8 HRs, 26 RBIs, 56 Ks, 43 BBs, 0 SBs, 165 ABS
Luis Alexander Basabe, CF:.224/.322/317, 2 HRs, 14 RBIs, 54 Ks, 23 BBs, 10 SBs, 182 ABs
Dane Dunning, RHP: 2-0, 4.79 ERA, 20.2 IP, 20 H, 12 R, 11 ERs, 22 Ks, 11 BBs, 1.50 WHIP

Kannapolis Intimidators (30-25, 4th place in South Atlantic League North)

Jameson Fisher, OF: .290/.376/.455, 2 HRs, 29 RBIs, 49 Ks, 22 BBs, 2 SBs, 176 ABs
Micker Adolfo, OF:.277/.332/.434, 3 HRs, 23 RBIs, 54 Ks, 6 BBs, 0 SBs, 173 ABs
Mitch Roman, 2B: .267/.323/.320, 1 HR, 23 RBIs, 43 Ks, 14 BBs, 2 SBs, 206 ABs
Alec Hansen, RHP: 5-3, 2.82 ERA, 60.2 IP, 50 H, 26 R, 19 ERs, 74 Ks, 21 BBs, 1.17 WHIP

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Injury updates: When will Carlos Rodon pitch for the White Sox again?

Carlos Rodon
Forget about the White Sox's 5-1 loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks on Monday night. Nothing to see there, nothing much to talk about, an inconsequential loss in a season that is expected to be full of them.

The most important news of the day was on the injury front, where left-hander Carlos Rodon met the media for the first time in a long time after throwing 60 pitches in a simulated game against minor leaguers Monday at Chase Field.

Relief pitchers Jake Petricka and Nate Jones also worked during the simulated game, but the big story is Rodon, whose recovery from left bicep bursitis has taken much longer than expected.

For Rodon, this was his fourth simulated game, and he says he considers himself to be on an every-fifth-day schedule at this point. Still, there's no timetable for his return, and general manager Rick Hahn used the phrase "in the coming weeks" when asked when Rodon might return to game action.

“He’s been out there now three or four times throwing to hitters,” Hahn told Sox beat reporters. “Each time has been a little more crisp from what I understand from the previous ones to today. Hopefully here in the coming weeks we are able to announce he’s starting a rehab assignment and we’ll have a better sense of his time frame at that point.”

Let me take an educated guess: Rodon might be back around the All-Star break. Say it's three more weeks until he heads out on a rehab assignment. Realistically, he'll probably need three or four starts in the minors before he's got enough strength and endurance to start in a big league game.

So, maybe we'll see him in July.

Why does this matter so much? For two reasons. One, the 24-year-old is seen as a cornerstone pitcher in the Sox's rebuilding plan. If he cannot get healthy and pitch effectively at some point this season, his status as a building block for the future would have to be called into question.

Secondly, his status affects the Sox's strategy at the trade deadline. With Rodon and James Shields both on the disabled list, the team's organizational pitching depth has been stretched thin. Retread veteran Mike Pelfrey and Rule 5 pick Dylan Covey don't belong in a major league rotation, but they are there because of the injuries, and because the Sox don't want to rush prized pitching prospects such as Reynaldo Lopez and Carson Fulmer into the starting rotation.

A healthy Rodon -- and a healthy Shields, for that matter -- makes it a little easier for Hahn to deal ace Jose Quintana for a package of prospects when July comes around.

If Rodon is not healthy for the second half of the season, and the Sox choose to deal Quintana, they might be faced with having to force-fit a prospect into the big league rotation before they really want to. That's a situation everyone would like to avoid, and it can be avoided if Rodon can take the ball 14 or 15 times before the 2017 season is over.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

It's a feel-bad Thursday for White Sox fans

It's a feel-bad Thursday for White Sox fans, and here are the reasons why:
  • The Sox blew an early 4-0 lead and lost, 12-8, to the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night.
  • The enjoyable 13-9 start to the season has been more than erased by an intolerable stretch of bad ball during which the Sox have gone 4-12.
  • The Sox have lost 14 of their last 15 games in Anaheim. The only blessing is they don't have any more games in that place this season.
  • Sox starting pitchers have not won a game since May 4, and have a 6.36 ERA during that 11-game stretch.
  • No. 1 prospect Yoan Moncada is going on the 7-day DL because of a persistent sore thumb. That would explain why he was in a 2-for-14 slump in the three games leading up to the DL stint. 
  • Carson Fulmer's stretch of good pitching also ended Wednesday at Triple-A Charlotte. He got rocked for seven earned runs in 4.2 innings in a 9-2 loss to Durham.
BAH! I hate losing, so I'm going to go be pissed off now.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Latest statistics for notable White Sox prospects

Since we last took at look at the numbers for notable White Sox prospects, there was one promotion of significance made.

Right-hander Dane Dunning, who was acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton deal, was promoted from Low-A Kannapolis to High-A Winston-Salem. He went 2-0 with a 0.35 ERA in four starts at Kannapolis, so now we'll see if he can carry that success over to Winston-Salem.

These numbers are through games of May 8.

Charlotte Knights (14-15, 3rd place in International League South)

Yoan Moncada, 2B: .345/.419/.549, 6 HRs, 11 RBIs, 8 SBs, 34 Ks, 15 BBs, 113 ABs
Nick Delmonico, 3B: .295/.378/.446, 2 HRs, 14 RBIs, 1 SB, 16 Ks, 14 BBs, 112 ABs
Jacob May, OF: .227/.261/.273, 0 HRs, 0 RBIs, 1 SB, 4 Ks, 1 BB, 22 ABs
Adam Engel, OF: .213/.304/.427, 4 HRs, 10 RBIs, 1 SB, 26 Ks, 11 BBs, 89 ABs
Carson Fulmer, RHP: 4-1, 2.88 ERA, 34.1 IP, 28 H, 12 R, 11 ER, 25 Ks, 11 BBs, 1.136 WHIP
Reynaldo Lopez, RHP: 3-1, 3.94 ERA, 32 IP, 25 H, 16 R, 14 ER, 35 Ks, 19 BBs, 1.375 WHIP
Lucas Giolito, RHP: 0-5, 7.31 ERA, 28.1 IP, 32 H, 25 R, 23 ER, 31 Ks, 18 BBs, 1.765 WHIP
Zack Burdi, RHP: 0-1, 2.31 ERA, 11.2 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 19 Ks, 4 BBs, 1.029 WHIP

Birmingham Barons (11-20, 4th place in Southern League North)

Trey Michalczewski, 3B: .200/.314/.280, 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 3 SBs, 35 Ks, 15 BBs, 100 ABs
Courtney Hawkins, OF: .127/.146/.291, 4 HRs, 8 RBIs, 0 SBs, 47 Ks, 2 BBs, 79 ABs
Michael Kopech, RHP: 1-2, 3.00 ERA, 24 IP, 13 H, 10 R, 8 ER, 36Ks, 16 BBs, 1.208 WHIP
Spencer Adams, RHP: 1-5, 3.65 ERA, 37 IP, 43 H, 18 R, 15 ERs, 31 Ks, 4 BBs, 1.270 WHIP

Winston-Salem Dash (11-20, 5th place in Carolina League South)

Zack Collins, C: .233/.393/.384 2 HRs, 10 RBIs, 0 SBs, 27 Ks, 23 BBs, 86 ABs
Luis Alexander Basabe, CF: .242/337/363, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 5 SBs, 25 Ks, 13 BBs, 91 ABs
Alex Call, OF: .244/.311/.366, 0 HRs, 5 RBIs, 2 SBs, 11 Ks, 3 BBs, 41 ABs
Dunning, RHP: 1-0, 3.52 ERA, 7.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 11 Ks, 4 BBs, 1.565 WHIP

Kannapolis Intimidators (15-15, 4th in South Atlantic League North)

Mitch Roman, 2B: .343/.408/.389, 0 HRs, 10 RBIs, 2 SBs, 21 Ks, 10 BBs, 108 ABs
Jameson Fisher, OF: .248/.345/.347, 1 HR, 16 RBIs, 2 SBs, 30 Ks, 14 BBs, 101 ABs
Micker Adolfo, OF: .310/.375/.437, 1 HR, 11 RBIs, 0 SB, 24 Ks, 3 BBs, 87 ABs
Alec Hansen, RHP:1-3, 3.56 ERA, 30.1 IP, 27 H, 18 R, 12 ER, 31 Ks, 12 BBs, 1.286 WHIP

Monday, May 8, 2017

White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada named International League Batter of the Week

Does anybody feel like breaking down the three-game series sweep the White Sox suffered in Baltimore over the weekend?

Me neither. That was a pitiful performance by a below-average team at the end of a 10-game road trip. So why make a Monday even gloomier by reliving it?

Instead, let's talk about White Sox prospect Yoan Moncada, who finished a triple short of the cycle Sunday in Charlotte's 7-1 victory over Gwinnett.

Moncada went 3 for 4 with a home run, a double, a walk and a stolen base. For the week of May 1 to 7, the second baseman hit .500 with two home runs and four RBIs. For his efforts, he has been named International League Batter of the Week.

That performance is an extension of a longer-term tear that Moncada has been on. Over his past 15 games, he is hitting .400/.464/.617 with 16 runs scored, three homers and seven RBIs in 69 plate appearances.

For those concerned about Moncada's strikeout rate, yes, he has struck out 26.7 percent of the time in his 124 plate appearances this season. But, that number is starting to come down. His K rate over the past 15 games? It's 21.7 percent. Still a little high, but a clear improvement. For the season, he's hitting .352 with six home runs and 11 RBIs.

When you're watching the Sox get shut out and go 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position -- as they did Sunday -- it's hard not to look forward to the day when Moncada gets called up. It won't happen until at least May 15. If the Sox want to keep Moncada for a seventh year of control -- and they do -- they can't call him up until then.

I'm not going to be the guy who calls for Moncada to be promoted as quickly as possible. He's ready whenever he's ready, and I can be patient. At the same time, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't excited to see what he can do against major league pitching.

And, also, Carson Fulmer is progressing at Triple-A Charlotte. He got the win in the aforementioned game against Gwinnett. He went six innings and allowed only four base runners (three hits, one walk) and one run. His season ERA is down to 2.88. He has held the opposition to two runs or less in five of his first six starts.

Amid all the hype about prospects who were acquired over the offseason, the best pitcher at Triple-A has been a guy who was in the organization last year -- that's Fulmer.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Latest statistics for notable White Sox prospects

As we come to the end of April, let's take a look at how some notable White Sox prospects have started the season. All statistics are through games of April 27.

Charlotte Knights (9-10, 3rd place in International League South)

Yoan Moncada, 2B: .297/.373./.500, 4 HRs, 5 RBIs, 5 SBs, 27 Ks, 9 BBs, 74 ABs
Nick Delmonico, 3B: .320/.386/.453, 1 HR, 9 RBIs, 0 SBs, 12 Ks, 7 BBs, 75 ABs
Adam Engel, OF: .143/.234/.214, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 1 SB, 19 Ks, 7 BBs, 56 ABs
Carson Fulmer, RHP: 2-1, 3.52 ERA, 23 IP, 23 H, 10 R, 9 ER, 19 Ks, 5 BBs, 1.22 WHIP
Reynaldo Lopez, RHP: 1-1, 4.87 ERA, 20.1 IP, 20 H, 13 R, 11 ER, 22 Ks, 13 BBs, 1.62 WHIP
Lucas Giolito, RHP: 0-3, 6.63 ERA, 19 IP, 18 H, 15 R, 14 ER, 23 Ks, 11 BBs, 1.53 WHIP
Zack Burdi, RHP: 0-1 with 2 SVs, 3.52 ERA, 7.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 13 Ks, 3 BB, 1.30 WHIP

Birmingham Barons (8-13, 4th place in Southern League North)

Trey Michalczewski, 3B: .222/.309/.333, 1 HR, 7 RBIs, 3 SB, 21 Ks, 9 BBs, 72 ABs
Courtney Hawkins, OF: .143/.167/.333, 4 HRs, 8 RBIs, 0 SBs, 35 Ks, 2 BBs, 63 ABs
Michael Kopech, RHP: 1-1, 2.50 ERA, 18 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 28 Ks, 14 BBs, 1.28 WHIP
Spencer Adams, RHP: 0-4, 3.65 ERA, 24.2 IP, 26 H, 12 R, 10 ER, 20Ks, 3 BBs, 1.18 WHIP

Winston-Salem Dash (7-14, 5th place in Carolina League South)

Zack Collins, C: .172/.372/.293, 1 HR, 6 RBIs, 0 SBs, 22 Ks, 19 BBs, 58 ABs
Luis Alexander Basabe, CF: .245/.333/.377, 1 HR, 5 RBIs, 4 SBs, 14Ks, 7 BBs, 53 ABs
Alex Call, OF: .244/.311/.366, 0 HRs, 5 RBIs, 2 SBs, 11 Ks, 3 BBs, 41 ABs

Kannapolis Intimidators (10-10, 4th in South Atlantic League North)

Jameson Fisher, OF: .261/.329/.362, 1 HR, 10 RBIs, 2 SBs, 18 Ks, 6 BBs, 69 ABs
Micker Adolfo, OF: .234/.308/.277, 0 HRs, 1 RBI, 0 SBs, 16 Ks, 1 BB, 47 ABs
Dane Dunning, RHP: 2-0, 0.35 ERA, 26 IP, 13 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 33 Ks, 2 BBs, 0.58 WHIP
Alec Hansen, RHP: 1-1, 4.42 ERA, 18.1 IP, 21 H, 14 R, 9 ER, 21 Ks, 10 BBs, 1.69 WHIP

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The White Sox's big pitching prospects have all made their first spring starts ...

As of Wednesday morning, the White Sox have played five spring training games. They've gone 2-2-1, and each of the four big pitching prospects in the organization has made one start.

Here are the results for each man:

Carson Fulmer: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K 
Lucas Giolito: 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR 
Reynaldo Lopez: 1.1 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1 HR 
Michael Kopech: 1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HR

Isn't it interesting that the guy who is ranked the lowest on the prospect lists and is getting the least amount of hype did the best?

Fulmer started Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers and struck three consecutive batters out swinging in his two scoreless innings.

It's foolish to draw any sort of conclusion on anybody from one spring start, but Fulmer's performance was at least enough to remind people that, hey, he's still around. And he might be closer to making the major leagues than the three newcomers to the organization that were acquired this offseason.

Giolito faced the Cubs and gave up a solo home run to Addison Russell on a four-seam fastball that wasn't very well located. He was somewhat fortunate to escape damage in the first inning, when a diving stop by second baseman Yoan Moncada produced a 4-6-3 double play that helped Giolito work out of a first-and-second, no-outs jam. The Cubs had seven of their nine regulars in the lineup, and Giolito was able to avoid getting lit up and post a respectable line -- so at least there's that.

Kopech and Lopez did get lit up, which stinks, but isn't necessarily a sign of bad things to come. Kopech was on the verge of getting out of the first inning with only one run allowed, but he made a bad mistake on an 0-2 pitch, giving up a 3-run homer to Seattle's Mitch Haniger. Tough start. We'll see how the 20-year-old responds next time out.

Lopez? Well, now we know he's a true White Sox. He gave up a two-run homer to Ryan Raburn in his outing against the Cincinnati Reds. As we've noted before, Raburn has basically built a career out of beating up on Sox pitching. I'll probably throw a party the day Raburn retires.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Baseball America's revised list of top 10 White Sox prospects

The White Sox's recent trades of Chris Sale and Adam Eaton netted them seven new players -- all of whom are minor-league prospects. So, it stands to reason the organization's list of top 10 prospects looks far different now than it did at this time last month.

Here's the latest look from Baseball America:

1. Yoan Moncada, 2B/3B
2. Lucas Giolito, RHP
3. Reynaldo Lopez, RHP
4. Zack Collins, C
5. Michael Kopech, RHP
6. Zack Burdi, RHP
7. Luis Alexander Basabe, OF
8. Carson Fulmer, RHP
9. Spencer Adams, RHP
10. Dane Dunning, RHP

Moncada, Kopech and Basabe all were acquired from the Boston Red Sox in the Sale trade. Giolito, Lopez and Dunning all were acquired from the Washington Nationals in the Eaton trade. Collins and Burdi were 2016 Sox draft picks.

That means eight of these 10 players have joined the Sox organization within the past six months. I'm sure this will do a lot for the Sox in terms of where their farm system ranks, although each of the next two seasons likely will feature 90-plus losses on the South Side of Chicago.

It will be interesting to come back to this list in 2019 and see how many of these players panned out.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

White Sox sign pitcher Derek Holland to one-year contract

Derek  Holland
Somebody has to pitch for the 2017 White Sox, right?

One of those somebodies will be veteran left-hander Derek Holland, who agreed Wednesday to a one-year, $6 million contract with the Sox.

Holland, 30, has been plagued by knee and shoulder injuries that have limited him to 38 starts over the past three seasons combined. He went 7-9 with a 4.95 ERA in 22 starts for the Texas Rangers in 2016. He spent July and most of August on the disabled list with shoulder problems, and suffered from reduced fastball velocity when he did pitch. The Rangers declined their $11 million team option on him at the end of the season.

The left-hander's best season came for a pennant-winning Texas team in 2011, when Holland led the league in shutouts with four and went 16-5 with a 3.95 ERA. His last good season was his last healthy one -- 2013 -- when he tossed a career-high 213 innings and went 10-9 with a 3.42 ERA in 33 starts.

Holland is looking for a bounce-back year that will rebuild his value when he goes back on the open market next offseason. The Sox might be a good fit for him, because there will be an opportunity to pitch, and there is an opportunity to work with pitching coach Don Cooper, who has had some success in the past with reclamation projects.

For the club, Holland is a good fit because the Sox need veteran stopgaps until some of the younger pitchers in the system -- Carson Fulmer, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Spencer Adams, etc. -- are ready for a full-time shot in the rotation.

If Holland gets hurt again, or is a bust, oh well, it's only a one-year commitment for the club. If Holland pitches well, contending teams could come calling and the Sox could flip him for younger players at the July trade deadline.

To make room for Holland on the 40-man roster, the Sox designated left-handed reliever Matt Purke for assignment.

I guess that means we won't be hearing this song at the ballpark next season:




Monday, November 7, 2016

Baseball America's list of top-10 White Sox prospects

There were few positives to come out of the 2016 season for the White Sox, but the organization's June draft class is one thing that stands out as a feather in the cap for the current regime.

It always takes three or four years to know for sure how good a draft class really is, but it's worth noting that half of Baseball America's list of top-10 White Sox prospects is made up of players who were drafted by the organization this past June.

Baseball America released the list Monday.

Catcher Zack Collins, the Sox's No. 1 draft pick out of the University of Miami in 2016, is ranked No. 1 on the list. The left-handed hitter has plus power, and posted an .885 OPS in 120 ABs at Class A Winston-Salem this year. According to the Baseball America report, scouts are encouraged by Collins' improving defense behind the plate, but we all know he was drafted for his bat.

Relief pitcher Zack Burdi ranks second on the list. The Downers Grove South graduate was selected with the 26th overall pick in the draft, and reached Triple-A Charlotte by the end of last season. He posted a 2.25 ERA in nine appearances for the Knights. Look for him in the Sox bullpen sometime during the 2017 season.

Other 2016 draftees to make the top-10 list include pitcher Alec Hansen (No. 5), outfielder Jameson Fisher (No. 8) and outfielder Alex Call (No. 9).

Hansen, a second-round pick, dominated in the Rookie League at Great Falls. He struck out 48 and allowed only 11 hits in 30.2 innings pitched. He was promoted to Class A Kannapolis, where he fanned 11 in 11 innings while posting a 2.45 ERA.

Fisher, a fourth-round pick, also had success at Great Falls. He hit .342 with a .923 OPS in 187 at-bats spanning 50 games. He collected 18 extra-base hits and 13 stolen bases, although he was caught stealing seven times.

Call, a third-round pick, was nothing if not consistent. He hit .308 in 27 games at Great Falls before earning a promotion to Kannapolis, where he hit, well, .308 in 46 games. He had a combined .839 OPS between the two stops.

Other players mentioned on the top-10 list are people we've discussed before: pitcher Carson Fulmer (No. 3), pitcher Spencer Adams (No. 4), pitcher Jordan Stephens (No. 6), third baseman Trey Michalczewski (No. 7) and second baseman Jake Peter (No. 10).

The Baseball America article notes the Sox face major obstacles to contention, one of them being a lack of depth in their farm system. However, they do acknowledge the farm system "received a much-needed face-lift" with the 2016 June draft.

If the 2017 season goes as poorly as 2016 did at the big-league level, at least we'll have this new group of prospects to track, even if only Burdi and Collins are likely to arrive on the South Side sometime in the next two years.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

White Sox option Carson Fulmer to Triple-A, recall Anthony Ranaudo

Anthony Ranaudo
As expected, the White Sox will call up Anthony Ranaudo to start Wednesday's game against the first-place Cleveland Indians.

Ranaudo takes the rotation spot of Miguel Gonzalez, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a groin strain last week.

The right-handed Ranaudo made one previous start with the Sox this year and showed well, allowing three earned runs on two hits over 6.2 innings against the Cubs on July 27. At Triple-A Charlotte, he is 6-5 with a 3.35 ERA in 16 starts.

He will pitch on regular rest Wednesday.

In a little bit of a surprise, Carson Fulmer was optioned to Triple-A Charlotte to make room for Ranaudo on the 25-man roster.

Fulmer, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2015 draft, was used strangely and sparingly since his July 15 promotion. He appeared in just eight games and posted an 8.49 ERA in 11.2 innings of sporadic work.

That's the equivalent of about two starts in a month, so it's hard to say how much this one month in the big leagues helped Fulmer's development.

He never pitched on back-to-back days, and he only pitched on one day's rest twice. Basically, he was collecting rust in the bullpen. During the same period where Fulmer made eight appearances, Matt Albers pitched 11 times, which is strange because there's no upside to giving more opportunities to a veteran retread such as Albers.

Reports indicate Fulmer will be "stretched out" at Triple-A Charlotte for a potential start or two in September after roster expand. I'm fine with that. I don't care whether Fulmer is at Triple-A or the big league level. I don't care whether he's starting or relieving. I just want him getting opportunities to pitch and refine his craft.

Getting on the mound more frequently can only help him. Rotting on the bullpen bench with a bad team doesn't do anything for his development.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Why won't the White Sox play Justin Morneau vs. LHP?

Justin Morneau -- in younger years
The White Sox wasted more good pitching Thursday night, falling 2-1 to the Kansas City Royals.

After starting pitcher Miguel Gonzalez left with an injury in the second inning, there was reason to believe this game could get out of hand. It did not, because relievers Michael Ynoa, Carson Fulmer and Tommy Kahnle combined to pitch seven innings of two-run ball.

Ynoa was particularly impressive. He worked three scoreless innings. He struck out three and did not allow a hit.

Too bad the Sox could muster only one run against Kansas City left-hander Danny Duffy, who pitched his first complete game in 97 career starts.

I guess we shouldn't be surprised given that the Sox fielded this weak lineup:

1. Adam Eaton, CF
2. Tyler Saladino, 3B
3. Melky Cabrera, LF
4. Jose Abreu, DH
5. Todd Frazier, 1B
6. Dioner Navarro, C
7. Tim Anderson, SS
8. Carlos Sanchez, 2B
9. Jason Coats, RF

Noticeable by his absence is Justin Morneau, who has turned out to be a nice addition for the Sox. The veteran is hitting .289/.337/.474 with five doubles, three home runs and nine RBIs in 21 games and 83 plate appearances since his return from the disabled list.

It's a small sample size, but that .811 OPS is better than anybody else on this team.

Given the fact that Morneau has been productive, why is manager Robin Ventura using him as a platoon player? Sure, Duffy is left-handed, and Morneau is left-handed, but what baseball universe are we living in where the light-hitting Sanchez gives the Sox a better chance to win against a pitcher such as Duffy?

Morneau has been allowed only 12 at-bats against left-handed pitching thus far, but he has four hits, including a double and a home run. For his career, he has a slash line of .253/.298/.411 against lefties. That's not world-beating, but it's respectable, and while that .710 OPS pales in comparison to his .891 career OPS against righties, Morneau is a threat every time he steps in the batter's box against either right-handers or left-handers. That's more than we can say for about half the guys listed in the lineup above.

I had one person tell me that Ventura made the right move by sitting Morneau on Thursday, because the Sox are out of the race and they need to "play the kids."

Please.

I could buy that explanation if I actually thought that was what Ventura was doing. But this is a manager who is playing J.B. Shuck over Coats. He's playing Navarro over Omar Narvaez. He's using Matt Albers in high-leverage relief situations instead of Ynoa or Fulmer.

He's not "playing the kids." He's still trying to win games with his veterans. If that's the philosophy he's taking, he needs Morneau to be the DH regardless of who is on the mound. The lineup the Sox trotted out Thursday against Duffy isn't going to cut it.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

There isn't much more Jose Quintana can do for the White Sox

Jose Quintana -- hosed again
"It's bad when you try everything and you lose."

That's what White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana had to say after Wednesday's 3-2, 14-inning loss to the Kansas City Royals.

Quintana did what he almost always does -- pitch outstanding baseball. He went 7.1 innings, allowing just one run on five hits with five strikeouts and one walk. His ERA is down to 2.85, which is brilliant in the hard-hitting American League.

Quintana's teammates also did what they almost always do -- find a way to squander his terrific performance.

In many ways, this was the prototypical Quintana no-decision. He took a 1-0 lead into the eighth inning, but the Sox could have had more runs than one. They gave away three outs on the bases, went 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position and stranded 12 runners. They failed to deliver the big hit with men on base in the fifth, seventh and eighth innings.

Inept offense.

Nevertheless, there was Quintana, industriously protecting a slim lead all game long. He got one out into the eighth inning before a double by Paulo Orlando ended his night after 97 pitches. I would argue that Quintana had earned the right to try to pitch around that, but it was a hot night, and manager Robin Ventura elected to go to the bullpen.

It took Nate Jones exactly one pitch to blow Quintana's chance at victory. Cheslor Cuthbert doubled to tie the score. Have I mentioned that the Royals have a lineup full of guys who love to swing at the first pitch? The Sox still haven't figure that out yet. #typicalWhiteSoxnonsense

The Sox had another chance to win the game in the 11th inning after Tim Anderson's two-out RBI single staked them to a 2-1 lead. Alas, closer David Robertson still isn't able to close. He gave the run right back in the bottom of the inning for his fourth blow save in eight chances since the All-Star break.

There have been five meetings between the Sox and Kansas City at Kauffman Stadium this year, and the Sox have had the lead in the seventh inning in all five of them. Yet, their record in those five games is 1-4. It's fitting that both Jones and Robertson were charged with blown saves in this one. You get the feeling the Sox bullpen couldn't protect a 10-run lead against the Royals in that stadium.

After the second Sox lead was blown, the game took on the feel of an inevitable loss. The Sox lost, all right, when Lorenzo Cain delivered a two-out RBI single off the increasingly useless Matt Albers in the bottom of the 14th inning.

One wonders why Albers (2-5) and his 5.91 ERA continue to appear in high-leverage situations. With the Sox out of the race, would it would be wrong to see how a younger pitcher would react in that spot? Carson Fulmer? Even Michael Ynoa?

Of course, it's not uncommon for me to be puzzled by some of the in-game decisions the Sox make. Nothing new under the sun there.