Showing posts with label Juan Minaya. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Juan Minaya. Show all posts

Friday, July 6, 2018

White Sox pitchers keep on walking people

Joakim Soria
The White Sox walked the leadoff hitter with a one-run lead in the bottom of the eighth inning Thursday night and got away with it.

Undeterred, they walked the leadoff hitter with a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning, too, and that time the Houston Astros made them pay, rallying for a 4-3 victory.

It capped a night full of walks by Sox pitchers. Carlos Rodon walked six over six innings, and somehow he managed to allow only two runs. Reliever Juan Minaya issued the aforementioned leadoff walk in the eighth, and closer Joakim Soria (0-3) walked two in the ninth and ended up taking the loss.

Walking opposing hitters has become a big part of the Sox's identity, and it's gotten beyond the point of frustration.

Sox pitchers lead the American League with 371 walks as a staff this season, and it's not close. Baltimore ranks a distant second with 308 walks.

This isn't a new problem either: The Sox led the American League with 632 walks issued during the 2017 season -- once again easily outdistancing the Orioles, who issued 579 walks.

Even in 2016, with Chris Sale and Jose Quintana anchoring the top of the rotation, the Sox's walk rate was too high. They were third in the league with 521 walks.

Handing out free baserunners to the opposition is not a recipe for success, especially because the Sox will never be confused with having a good defensive team. Between the walks and errors, self-inflicted wounds have contributed to most of the Sox's 57 losses this season (entering Friday's play).

I'm told that Don Cooper is one of the best pitching coaches in the game. I'm not sure I believe that bit of propaganda at this point, but if Cooper is so great, I call upon him to get the Sox pitching staff back in the strike zone with more frequency.

At the very least, the Sox need to make the opposition earn it more often.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Grinder Bash 2018 at Guaranteed Rate Field -- let's visit the home clubhouse

Grinder Bash, the White Sox's annual party for season-ticket holders, was sparsely attended Saturday, perhaps because this rebuilding team doesn't have many season-ticket holders anymore.

That's fine. More room for us, and for the first time (at least in the years I've attended this event), fans had access to the home clubhouse.


You can see Yoan Moncada's locker right behind me, near the front of the clubhouse. Not surprisingly, Moncada's locker is between those of Hector Santiago and Jose Abreu, whose locker is just out of frame to the right. The Sox obviously want Moncada hanging around a couple of the veteran Latino players who have been there and done that. Let's hope for the sake of the Sox's rebuild that young Yoan gets it going soon. His batting average is down to .221 entering Monday's play; his on-base percentage is down to .289.


Danny Farquhar's locker remain full and intact, even though he hasn't been around the team as much since suffering a life-threatening brain aneurysm during a game April 20 at Guaranteed Rate Field. Notably, Farquhar has a signed Frank Thomas jersey hanging in his locker. That's a pretty cool piece of memorabilia to have. I think the entire baseball community, not just the White Sox organization and its fans, wishes Farquhar well as he continues to recover from one of the scariest situations I've seen happen at a major league ballpark.


I probably found this funnier than it really is, but I got a kick out of seeing a suitcase in Juan Minaya's locker. This guy has been up and down between the Sox and Triple-A Charlotte all season, and I can't help but wonder if that suitcase is there just in case he gets another tap on the shoulder and another plane ticket to North Carolina. Well, actually, with the way Bruce Rondon has been pitching lately, perhaps Minaya's roster spot is safer than it's been at other points during the season.


Off in the corner, here is James Shields' locker. He has nobody to his left, and nobody to his right. Has he really earned all that personal space? Yeah, he's a veteran and all, but his record is 3-9. In the past, perhaps this roomy part of the clubhouse might have belonged to an accomplished Sox player such as, say, Paul Konerko. It seems as though Shields is the guy who currently gets the royal treatment, deserving or not. Or, perhaps they just make him sit in the corner for not being very good at pitching at this stage of his career.


Here's the view from behind home plate. If you ever want to feel small, go down on the field at a major league stadium on a non-game day when the ballpark is empty. You never realize just how big a place it is until you're down at field level.


One other interesting little note: On the wall in the Sox bullpen, the relief corps keeps track of the number of calls received from the dugout. During the 2017 season, there were 888 calls made to the bullpen during the 81 home games. It looks as though the Sox are on pace to exceed that total this season. So far, 502 calls have been made to the bullpen through 43 home games. That's an average of about 11.6 a game. That puts the Sox on pace for 945.6 calls over an 81-game period. Yes, these are rough days. By way of comparison, the calls during the 2013 season only numbered in the 400s. The 2013 Sox were a bad club -- 99 losses -- but starting pitching was the strength: Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Jake Peavy, the pre-injury Santiago, etc. These days, starting pitching is a weakness, and the bullpen is busy.

The other great thing about Grinder Bash: Free food and drinks, including beer, for those who choose to partake. As I said, the season-ticket base for the Sox is fewer in number than it has ever been, and those of us who have chosen to stick it out through this rebuild have earned a perk such as this.

When all is said and done, it might be one of the more enjoyable days at the ballpark in 2018. After all, we weren't walking back to our cars after a White Sox loss, which has so often been the case during this most trying of seasons.

Monday, June 25, 2018

White Sox salvage split with Oakland with Sunday blowout

Carlos Rodon
Carlos Rodon went eight innings and got the win Sunday. Yoan Moncada had six RBIs as the White Sox trounced the Oakland Athletics, 10-3.

It was cathartic, wasn't it?

The Sox recently have been through another really rough stretch of baseball, but you take the positives where you can, and Sunday's rout to salvage a split of a four-game set with Oakland was one of those days where it was OK to smile.

Here's a look back at the weekend that was:

Friday, June 22
Athletics 11, White Sox 2 (Game 1): The Sox entered this series off a 12-0 loss to the Cleveland Indians, and the "clownish" play continued in the opener of a doubleheader.

Sox starter James Shields (2-9) allowed eight runs over 4.2 innings, but only two were earned as the South Siders totaled three errors -- two by Moncada.

Oakland scored four runs in the second inning and four more in the fifth to take an 8-0 lead, so this was one over early and ugly throughout.

White Sox 6, Athletics 4 (Game 2): This probably was the best outing we've seen from Lucas Giolito (5-7) all season, as his fastball was sitting at 95 mph for much of the game, unlike the 91-92 we've become accustomed to in several of his previous starts.

Giolito's line doesn't look all that great: four earned runs allowed in seven plus innings, but he walked off the mound with a 5-2 lead in the eighth. A couple of inherited runners scored that were added to his line.

Give left-handed reliever Xavier Cedeno some credit -- he entered the game with runners on first and third and no outs in the top of the eighth with the Sox clinging to a 5-4 lead. Cedeno pitched out of it, and Tim Anderson added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning with a solo home run.

Anderson went 2 for 4 with a double, a home run and three runs scored.

Saturday, June 23
Athletics 7, White Sox 6: Anderson continued his hot hitting with a three-run homer in the first inning Saturday that staked the Sox to an early 5-0 lead.

Alas, Oakland rallied for the win. Dylan Covey exited in the fifth inning with a groin strain -- the Sox were leading 5-2 at the time -- and the wheels came off from there. Chris Volstad allowed two inherited runners to score, and gave up two earned runs of his own.

Juan Minaya (0-2) took the loss by allowing a run in the eighth, but some poor defense was played behind him. Minaya struck out the first two hitters, and got a routine fly to right off the bat of Stephen Piscotty. OK, maybe it wasn't routine, because Avisail Garcia lost the ball in the sun. It fell for a "double."

Piscotty then scored on a two-out RBI single by Nick Martini that put the A's up, 7-6.

Oakland committed two infield errors in the bottom of the ninth. Despite its efforts to give the game back to the Sox, the South Siders could not take advantage. Matt Davidson grounded into a game-ending double play with two runners on.

Sunday, June 24
White Sox 10, Athletics 3: The turning point came in the top of the fifth inning. Oakland led, 2-0, and had runners on second and third with nobody out.

Rodon was on the ropes, but he punched his way out of it, inducing a weak grounder to third, getting a strikeout, and then a weak popout to second base.

The Sox scored five in the bottom of the inning, highlighted by Moncada's two-out, three run double. The second baseman added three more RBIs with a home run in the bottom of the sixth, as the Sox added five more runs.

Given a 10-2 lead, Rodon cruised through the eighth inning. He only struck out three, but he did not walk a batter -- note to all Sox pitchers, everything works better when you throw strikes.

Sox relievers walked three men in the top of the ninth, and Oakland scored a run, but the Sox effectively ended any doubt about the outcome when Moncada homered in the sixth.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Two steps back: White Sox swept at home by Detroit Tigers

Nicholas Castellanos
The Detroit Tigers are not a good road team. In fact, they are 13-20 away from Comerica Park.

But you would never know it by their performance at Guaranteed Rate Field this season, where they are 6-0 after sweeping a weekend series from the White Sox. So, the Tigers are 7-20 on the road against teams not named the White Sox.

Pathetic, and frustrating for Sox fans. It's especially frustrating after the Sox had shown signs of progress in June -- taking two out of three from the Brewers, splitting four games with the Twins, taking two out of three from the Red Sox and splitting four games with the Indians.

Now, the Sox go three games without ever taking a lead at home against the middling Tigers. Ugh.

Here's a look back at the weekend that was:

Friday, June 15
Tigers 4, White Sox 3: This game was characterized by suspect bullpen management from Rick Renteria.

The Sox trailed, 3-0, through five innings, but Omar Narvaez hit his first home run of the season, a 3-run shot in the sixth, to tie the game.

But for some reason, Renteria blew through relief pitchers Xavier Cedeno, Bruce Rondon and Luis Avilan to get three outs in the top of the seventh inning.

While those three relievers combined to keep the Tigers off the board in the 7th, it was strange that Renteria chose to play matchups when no runner reached scoring position in the inning. It was not a dangerous situation.

Then, Juan Minaya -- who is only in the big leagues because Nate Jones is on the disabled list -- was entrusted to pitch the eighth inning. Of course, Minaya immediately went single, walk to put himself in trouble.

He was allowed to stay in, perhaps because the aforementioned three relievers already had been used, and of course, the Tigers scored a run and won the game.

Head-scratching.

Saturday, June 16
Tigers 7, White Sox 5: Detroit right fielder Nicholas Castellanos was mired in a 1-for-21 slump until Sox right-hander Lucas Giolito took the mound.

Giolito took care of that, allowing a 3-run homer to Castellanos in the third and a two-run homer to him in the fifth. Both home runs came after Giolito had issued a two-out walk.

The Sox trailed, 5-0, going to the bottom of the fifth, but they rallied to tie the game. An RBI double by Tim Anderson, a two-run single by Charlie Tilson and a sacrifice fly by Trayce Thompson highlighted a four-run fifth.

In the sixth, Yolmer Sanchez tripled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jose Abreu. 5-5 game.

But Abreu missed a big chance in the seventh. He grounded out weakly to third with the bases loaded and two outs. Worse yet, he swung at two bad pitches to open the at-bat, after Detroit reliever Buck Farmer had walked Yoan Moncada and Sanchez to load the bases for Abreu.

It was a rare poor at-bat for the Sox's best hitter.

In the eighth, Detroit only hit one ball out of the infield -- a leadoff single by Victor Martinez -- but the Tigers plated two runs because Rondon walked two guys and misplayed a bunt.

It was a frustrating defeat on what could have been a feel-good day after the Sox erased a five-run deficit.

Sunday, June 17
Tigers 3, White Sox 1: Castellanos continued to punk the Sox. He got a hanging breaking ball from James Shields in the first inning and hit it out for a two-run homer.

That was essentially the game, as the Sox failed to generate much offense against soft-tossing Detroit left-handed Blaine Hardy.

Matt Davidson's team-leading 12th home run of the season provided the only Sox offense in the second inning.

But hey, Shields (2-8) went at least six innings for the 11th consecutive start, and he didn't allow the game to get out of hand.

Increase that trade value, James.

Monday, June 4, 2018

White Sox activate Matt Davidson from 10-day DL

Matt Davidson
The White Sox on Monday activated infielder Matt Davidson from the 10-day disabled list and optioned catcher Alfredo Gonzalez and infielder Matt Skole to Triple-A Charlotte.

Davidson, who is hitting .243 with 11 home runs and 28 RBIs in 42 games this season, has been out since May 25 with back spasms.

Gonzalez, who was called up when Welington Castillo was suspended for 80 games for PED usage, went 1 for 9 in his short big-league stint. He collected his first hit and first RBI on Sunday with a game-tying single in the fifth inning against the Milwaukee Brewers.

Skole went 3 for 11 with a solo home run in four games. He became the sixth Sox player in team history to homer in his first major-league game May 28 at Cleveland.

The moves leave the Sox's active roster at 24 men. We'll see two more players added before Tuesday's doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins.

Obviously, one of the two will be a catcher. Both Kevan Smith and Dustin Garneau are on the 40-man roster. We shall see which player gets the call. I predict it will be Smith.

The Sox also can add a "26th man" for the doubleheader. It likely will not be a starting pitcher -- both Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez have had enough rest to pitch Tuesday. I figure we'll see a reliever who is on the 40-man roster, such as Juan Minaya or Greg Infante, but only for a day.

Carlos Rodon likely will be activated from the 60-day disabled list before the week is over, but that probably won't happen Tuesday, since Rodon just pitched for Triple-A Charlotte on his rehab assignment Sunday. I would not be surprised to see him pitch for the Sox on Friday against Boston.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Maybe the White Sox should pitch around Josh Donaldson ...

Josh Donaldson
Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson has homered in each of his past five games against the White Sox.

For his career against Chicago, Donaldson has posted a .344/.407/.725 slash line with 14 home runs, eight doubles and 34 RBIs in 35 games.

That's enough production in enough of a sample size to get my attention, and it should get the attention of the Sox coaching staff.

Donaldson continued his mastery of the Sox on Tuesday night, going 2 for 4 with a home run, three RBIs, two runs scored and a walk in Toronto's 14-5 victory.

The score is a little bit misleading -- the Blue Jays broke open a 7-5 game with seven runs in the bottom of the eighth inning. Toronto was ahead for most of the night, although the Sox remained within striking distance until the last two innings.

It was frustrating that the Sox allowed Donaldson to hurt them twice while the outcome still was in doubt. On two occasions, Donaldson came to the plate with two outs, first base open and a man in scoring position. Both times, the Sox opted to pitch to Donaldson. Both times they paid.

The Jays' third baseman hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning off Miguel Gonzalez to increase a 4-2 Toronto lead to 6-2. In the seventh inning against Hector Santiago, Donaldson hit an RBI single off the top of the left field fence to move the Jays' lead from 6-4 to 7-4. Another foot higher and it would have been Donaldson's second two-run homer of the game.

There probably isn't any circumstance in which the Sox would have won Tuesday anyway. Gonzalez was poor, allowing six runs (five earned) over five innings. Santiago, Greg Infante and Juan Minaya combined on a preposterous bullpen meltdown in the eighth inning that erased any hope of a Sox comeback.

However, if the Sox happen to be in a close game in Wednesday's series finale against Toronto, I have a word to the wise: Make somebody other than Donaldson beat you.

Friday, March 30, 2018

White Sox tie MLB record with six home runs on Opening Day

Matt Davidson
Let's take a moment to rejoice: It's March 30, and the White Sox are alone in first place in the American League Central Division.

OK, that isn't worth much, but the traditional day off after Opening Day is much more enjoyable when your favorite team's record is 1-0.

I wasn't expecting the Sox to win Thursday, especially with James Shields on the mound, but an offensive onslaught allowed the South Siders to blow out the Kansas City Royals, 14-7.

The Sox hit six home runs on Opening Day, which ties a major league record -- the 1988 New York Mets were the other team to do it. And Matt Davidson became only the fourth player in MLB history to hit three home runs in an opener -- George Bell (1988), Tuffy Rhodes (1994) and Dmitri Young (2005) were the others.

Davidson's performance overshadowed a two-homer game for Tim Anderson. Jose Abreu also homered for the Sox.

Indeed, Sox fans are feeling good today, but they weren't feeling so good at 3:28 p.m. Thursday afternoon, about 13 minutes after the season began. The Sox went three-up, three-down in the top of the first inning against Kansas City starter Danny Duffy, and Shields put the Sox in a 4-0 hole only four batters into the bottom of the first inning.

Lucas Duda's three-run homer put the Royals ahead 4-0, as the first four Kansas City batters recorded hits. Same old Shields, right.

Well, it's no secret I'm not a fan of the 36-year-old veteran, but after that horrible start, the right-hander settled down and gave up nothing over the next five innings. He got through six innings, allowing only the four runs that came across in the first.

If you would have told me Thursday morning that Shields would get through six innings and give up four runs, I would have taken it. So, I'll take it.

Not to mention, Shields was better than Duffy, who fell apart the second time through the batting order. The Kansas City left-hander battled shoulder problems during spring training, so perhaps he just wasn't ready to go more than a few innings. He limited the Sox to one hit through the first three innings, but the roof caved in on him in the fourth.

Avisail Garcia doubled. Abreu homered. Davidson homered. Anderson homered. Yolmer Sanchez walked. Adam Engel singled. Yoan Moncada doubled. All of a sudden, it was 5-4 Sox, and the rout was on from there.

The Sox added three runs in the fifth, three in the seventh and three in the eighth.

The only concern I have from this game is the struggles of relief pitcher Juan Minaya, who gave up two runs and could not finish the ninth inning. Minaya walked a batter and threw two wild pitches in his two-thirds of an inning, and that wildness has been a pattern going back to his last couple of spring training outings.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, he was 9 for 10 in save opportunities down the stretch in 2017, but I don't think he should be the closer now, with Nate Jones healthy and Joakim Soria also on the roster.

It will be interesting to see how manager Rick Renteria uses the bullpen the first time the Sox are in a late-inning, high-leverage situation.

The Sox have two more games with the Royals this weekend, weather permitting. Right-hander Lucas Giolito will pitch for the Sox at 6:15 p.m. Saturday. He'll be opposed by Kansas City right-hander Ian Kennedy. Reynaldo Lopez gets the start for the Sox at 1:15 p.m. Sunday. The Royals will counter with right-hander Jason Hammel.

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.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Jake Petricka provides gut punch in White Sox loss to the Dodgers

Jake Petricka
Two outs away. Eight good innings and one horrible one.

However you want to look at it, the White Sox lost a tough one, 5-4, to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday night.

The Dodgers are 85-34, and there's no shame in losing to them. Everybody loses to the Dodgers. But the Sox had a 4-2 lead with two outs to go in the bottom of the ninth inning, and they did a lot of things right in this particular game. I would have liked to have seen them rewarded with a victory.

Carlos Rodon continued his stretch of terrific pitching. He tossed 7.1 innings of two-run ball and was in line for the victory. The Sox hit four home runs as a team, including two by Nick Delmonico, who has continued to surprise by swinging a great bat since he got called up from Triple-A Charlotte. Leury Garcia and Jose Abreu also homered in this game, and the Sox appeared to be on the verge of handing Yu Darvish his first loss since he was traded to the Dodgers.

Alas, the Sox have traded every competent pitcher in their bullpen, and they couldn't close the deal. We can't blame Juan Minaya. He finished the eighth inning for Rodon. We can't blame Greg Infante, who recorded an out on the only hitter he faced in the ninth.

But Aaron Bummer gave up a single to Cody Bellinger, and then Jake Petricka came in to throw batting practice to Logan Forsythe, Austin Barnes and Yasiel Puig. Those three hitters hung out ropes -- an RBI double into the left-field corner by Forsythe, a bullet single to center by Barnes, then a two-run, game-winning double to the left-center gap by Puig.

In a blink of an eye, Rodon's potential win was gone.

It's been a rough ride for Petricka since he came off the disabled list. He stunk Tuesday night, too, as he was right in the center of the Dodgers' five-run, game-winning rally in the eighth inning.

The past two nights, Petricka has faced eight hitters and retired only two. He's allowed six hits and given up four earned runs.

Yuck.

Petricka is the most accomplished reliever in a bullpen that includes Minaya, Bummer, Infante, Mike Pelfrey, Chris Beck, Dylan Covey and Brad Goldberg. However, injuries have taken their toll on Petricka, and he might actually be the worst pitcher in the Sox bullpen at this moment, past track record nothwithstanding.

Here's how his season statistics rank among the eight relievers on the Sox roster:

ERA: 9.00 (eighth and last)
FIP: 5.77 (third)
WHIP: 2.053 (eighth and last)
H/9: 15.6 (eighth and last)
ERA+: 49 (eighth and last)
Career saves: 16 (first)

I guess that last category is the key one for manager Rick Renteria. Petricka does have high-leverage experience, but his best successes came three years ago, when he had 14 of those 16 saves.

I don't know who the right guy is for closing situations for the Sox. I don't see any good options. I'd give Minaya a shot, because he has the highest K rate (11.8 per nine innings). But I do know that Petricka looks completely incapable of getting the job done for the Sox.

Renteria should ignore the experience factor, trust the recent data and give a chance to somebody else.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Lucas Giolito throws seven-inning no-hitter; Tyler Danish recalled

Tyler Danish
It's been hard to find positives in Lucas Giolito's body of work this season. The right-hander at one point was the No. 1-ranked pitching prospect in all of baseball, and he was the biggest name acquired by the White Sox in the deal that sent outfielder Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals.

Unfortunately, it's been so far, so bad for Giolito since he joined the Sox organization. Entering his start Thursday for the Triple-A Charlotte Knights, Giolito had compiled a 1-5 record with an ugly 6.41 ERA in eight games.

But finally, something clicked Thursday night against the Syracuse Chiefs. Giolito threw a seven-inning no-hitter in a 4-0 victory in the first game of a doubleheader. He struck out only three, and he walked three, but he also needed only 87 pitches to record the 21 outs. Fifty of those 87 pitches were strikes, and the win lowered his ERA to a somewhat less unsightly 5.44.

The no-hitter is the first in the history of BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte, which is a notorious hitters' park. It's the first no-hitter for the Knights since Andre Rienzo tossed a seven-inning gem in 2013.

The Sox have to hope this is a confidence boost and a turning point for Giolito.

Roster moves

The White Sox on Friday placed starting pitcher Dylan Covey on the 10-day disabled list with oblique soreness. In some ways, the time off might be merciful for Covey, who is 0-4 with an 8.12 ERA in eight starts.

Reliever Juan Minaya takes his place on the roster. The right-hander has a 1.23 ERA in 10 appearances and 14.2 innings at Charlotte since coming off the disabled list (abdominal strain). The addition of Minaya means the Sox are carrying nine relief pitchers for Friday's doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers.

They might need the help, since the Sox's two scheduled starting pitchers are Mike Pelfrey and Tyler Danish. If the Sox get five decent innings out of both men, that would be considered a success.

Danish was recalled Friday to be the 26th man on the roster for the doubleheader. The 22-year-old right-hander made three relief appearances for the Sox last year, but this will be his first start in the major leagues.

He was 1-3 with a 3.15 ERA in eight starts and 45.2 innings for the Knights.

If you're going out to the ol' ballpark for the doubleheader Friday, you might see some offense. Detroit is basically doing the same thing the Sox are: starting one struggling pitcher (Matt Boyd) and one minor-league call-up (Buck Farmer). Top-of-the-rotation starters are nowhere to be found in these matchups.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

White Sox must stop overusing Dan Jennings

Dan Jennings
The Pollyannas in the White Sox fan base tell me I should be rejoicing because the team "finally has a plan" to return to legitimate pennant contention.

From where I'm sitting, it appears part of the plan is to kill left-handed reliever Dan Jennings before Memorial Day.

Tuesday night's game, a 7-2 loss to the Minnesota Twins, got out of hand under Jennings' watch. With the Sox trailing 3-2 in the fifth, Jennings relieved and cleaned up a mess left by starter Mike Pelfrey. But the wheels came off when the lefty went back out for the sixth inning. Jennings allowed singles to three of the first four hitters he faced, and that set the table for a four-run Minnesota rally that put the game out of reach.

I can't blame Jennings because he has been overused in the early going this season. He has appeared in 15 of the 31 Sox games, and that seems excessive. The wear and tear is starting to take its toll, as Jennings was pitching well until this past week.

First 12 appearances: 2-0, 0.93 ERA, 7 Ks, 2 BBs, 10 H in 9.2 IP
Past 3 appearances: 0-0, 32.40 ERA, 0 Ks, 1 BB, 8 H in 1.2 IP

Yes, it's going wrong for Jennings now, and the overuse is a twofold problem: First, he's been the only left-hander in the bullpen for most of the year, which means he is being summoned frequently as a situational pitcher. The Sox recently added left-hander David Holmberg to the 25-man roster when Nate Jones went on the disabled list, but Holmberg is roster filler. He's not the type of pitcher who is going to be trusted in medium-leverage situations, let alone high-leverage roles.

Secondly, Jennings has been used as the "first man out" when a starter pitcher falters in the fifth or sixth inning. That was the case in Tuesday's game against the Twins, and it's been the case more than once in games started by Pelfrey and Dylan Covey.

Pelfrey has averaged 4.2 innings in his four starts, while Covey has averaged an even 5 innings in his five starts. Forty percent of the Sox rotation cannot make it through the sixth inning, ever, and that's going to cause somebody in the bullpen to either get hurt or lose effectiveness.

Jennings appears to be the first victim.

So, what are the Sox to do? They are boxed into a corner to some extent. Two guys who were supposed to be in the rotation -- Carlos Rodon and James Shields -- are on the disabled list, and return dates are unknown. In the meantime, somebody has to pitch. The Sox have been consistent in their message that they don't intend to rush their prospects, even though Triple-A results suggest Carson Fulmer and Reynaldo Lopez could probably pitch more effectively than Pelfrey and Covey.

But since the Sox don't want to take that step, Pelfrey and Covey are going to keep getting starts. My suggestion? Make them wear it if they don't pitch well. Pelfrey is supposed to be a veteran "innings eater." Well, let's see him eat some innings for once, even if the innings he is providing are not of good quality. That's better than running a left-handed bullpen asset such as Jennings into the ground. Covey is a Rule 5 pick and a developmental guy. Well, it's time to learn the hard way, kid.

When these guys go to the mound, tell them six innings are expected, come hell or high water. Will it result in losses? Of course, but the Sox are already losing the majority of games on the days Pelfrey and Covey pitch. (They are a combined 3-6 in those nine games.)

Another option: Designate Cody Asche for assignment and add a 13th pitcher to the roster. Asche has zero defensively utility, and he's hitting .107/.180/.179 for the season. He easily could be replaced with placeholder pitcher such as Juan Minaya, who is right-handed, but he could soak up some of the burden for the front end of the Sox bullpen. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

White Sox (temporarily) prevent Indians from clinching AL Central

Carlos Rodon
The Cleveland Indians would have the AL Central Division title wrapped up if they had won either of their last two games against the White Sox over the weekend.

Instead, the Sox surprised them with back-to-back victories and a rare series win in Cleveland. The Indians' magic number remains at 1 heading into Monday's action.

Here's a look back at the weekend in Cleveland:

Friday, September 23
Indians 10, White Sox 4: The Sox were in decent shape halfway through this game. They had a 4-2 lead headed to the bottom of the fifth inning, after a pair of two-run homers -- one by Melky Cabrera in the first inning and the other by Avisail Garcia in the fifth.

But the wheels came off for Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez (4-8) in the bottom of the fifth. The Tribe touched Gonzalez and reliever Juan Minaya up for four runs to take a 6-4 lead, and for good measure, they added four more in the sixth off the relief combination of Minaya and Dan Jennings.

Blessed with a 10-4 lead, Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer (12-8) got two outs deep in the eighth inning and picked up the win.

The Sox lost outfielder Adam Eaton for the rest of the series after he crashed into the center field wall hauling in a line drive off the bat of Cleveland catcher Roberto Perez in the fifth inning.

Saturday, September 24
White Sox 8, Indians 1: The Sox have scored a few more runs for Jose Quintana (13-11) the second half of the season, and this was the lastest example. A two-spot in the first inning gave Quintana the lead before he ever took the mound, and that had to be comforting for him, because he did not have his best stuff.

The left-hander worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning, and kept the Indians to just one run in the second inning, when the Tribe left runners at second and third.

The Sox added single runs in the fifth and sixth innings -- Todd Frazier hit his 39th homer of the season in the sixth -- and then broke it open with a four-run hit parade in the eighth inning. Carlos Sanchez and Jose Abreu each had three-hit games to back Quintana, who nursed the lead through six innings.

Tommy Kahnle, Jennings, Nate Jones and David Robertson combined for three innings of scoreless relief to give the Sox just their second victory at Cleveland this season.

Sunday, September 25
White Sox 3, Indians 0: Cleveland entered the day with its magic number at 2, needing a win and a Detroit loss to clinch the division. The Tigers lost, 12-9, to Kansas City, but the Indians couldn't hold up their end of the deal.

Left-hander Carlos Rodon (8-10) turned in one of the finest performances by a Sox starting pitcher all season. He went eight shutout innings, allowing just two hits (both singles), and tied his career high with 11 strikeouts.

Frazier went 1 for 3 with a single, a walk, two stolen bases and two runs scored. Each of the two steals led directly to a run. Sanchez drove him home with a single in the fifth; Omar Narvaez knocked him in with a single in the ninth.

Those three runs were ample for Rodon, who needed just one inning of help from the bullpen. Robertson provided it with one of his most impressive performances in months. The closer earned his 36th save by striking out Cleveland's 3-4-5 hitters -- Jose Ramirez, Mike Napoli and Carlos Santana -- in succession, all on nasty curve balls.

The Sox (74-81) now come home to conclude the season. They've got four games with Tampa Bay and three with Minnesota at U.S. Cellular Field this week.