Showing posts with label Miguel Gonzalez. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Miguel Gonzalez. Show all posts

Monday, July 18, 2016

White Sox begin second half with pathetic showing vs. Angels

Hector Santiago
The White Sox couldn't have asked for a worse start to the second half of their season.

They were outscored 16-1 in a three-game series against the last-place Los Angeles Angels. Entering Monday's play, the Sox have scored just one run in their last 41 offensive innings dating back to July 9. They have lost four in a row to slip back below .500 at 45-46, and they are nine games behind the first-place Cleveland Indians in the AL Central.

The Sox also are 5.5 games back in the AL wild-card race, with five teams to pass. That is not good position. Let's have a brief look back at the poor weekend in Los Angeles.

Friday, July 15
Angels 7, White Sox 0: Former Sox lefty Hector Santiago had his way with the South Siders in this game. He struck out five men the first two innings and went on to throw seven innings of shutout ball. He allowed just five hits and walked nobody. He finished with seven strikeouts.

Sox starter Miguel Gonzalez kept his club in the game most of the way. He had allowed only two runs through six innings, but poor defense led to the wheels coming off in the seventh.

First baseman Jose Abreu misplayed a ball off the bat of the Angels' Daniel Nava into a "double," and an error by Tim Anderson put runners on first and third with no outs. The two defensive miscues ended Gonzalez's night and set the table for a five-run Angels rally that saw the Sox burn through three relievers. Anderson committed a second error in the inning that did not help matters.

Saturday, July 16
Angels 1, White Sox 0: I've criticized James Shields quite a bit on this blog, but let's give credit where credit is due: He was outstanding in this game. He pitched a complete game and allowed only two hits. Unfortunately, one of those hits was a leadoff triple by Yunel Escobar in the first inning. Mike Trout got that run home with a RBI groundout, and that was all the Angels needed.

The Sox made Los Angeles starter Matt Shoemaker look like the second coming of Don Drysdale. The right-hander struck out 13 and allowed only six hits in a complete-game shutout.

It was inexcusable, however, that the Sox did not score after Adam Eaton's leadoff double in the ninth inning. Abreu failed to advance the runner with a groundout to shortstop. That was huge because Melky Cabrera followed with a single. Eaton stopped at third on the hit, and he would have scored if Abreu had done something to advance him.

Instead, it was first and third with one out -- still a favorable situation for the Sox -- but neither Todd Frazier nor Justin Morneau could make any contact against the tiring Shoemaker. Both men struck out, securing one of the more unacceptable Sox losses of the season.

Sunday, July 17
Angels 8, White Sox 1: Remember back at SoxFest when I asked Rick Hahn about organizational depth with starting pitching? He said Jacob Turner and Chris Beck were in line as fallback options should anyone in the rotation get injured. My reaction to that was, "Gulp."

Well, Carlos Rodon is on the disabled list, so there was Turner on Sunday, making his first big-league start of the season despite a 4.71 ERA at Triple-A Charlotte.

Results were predictable, as Turner allowed eight runs on seven hits in just four innings of work. He walked three and allowed two titanic home runs by Albert Pujols.

Eaton ended the Sox scoreless streak in the third inning with a two-out RBI double, but the South Siders could muster up nothing else against Jered Weaver, who is 12-2 lifetime against the Sox.

The one bright spot: Two scoreless innings of relief from Carson Fulmer in his big-league debut. The first man Fulmer faced was Pujols, the future Hall of Famer, and he struck him out on three pitches. He showcased his whole arsenal. He grabbed strike one with a fastball, got a swinging strike on changeup with the second pitch, and then Pujols could not check his swing on a slider for strike three.

Fulmer threw 15 of his 21 pitches for strikes. He allowed only one hit. He struck out two and hit a batter. Nice debut overall in an otherwise miserable afternoon for the Sox and their fans.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Michael Pineda stinks with two outs; White Sox take advantage

Michael Pineda
Here's an unusual stat: With two outs in an inning, opposing hitters have posted a .366/.414/.710 slash line against New York Yankees right-hander Michael Pineda.

The White Sox took advantage of Pineda bizarre inability to close out innings Wednesday in a 5-0 victory over the Yankees.

Pineda retired the first two hitters in the Sox's second inning with little difficulty, but then the wheels fell off.

Brett Lawrie singled and advanced to second on a passed ball. Pineda walked Dioner Navarro on four straight pitches, which I thought might have been a pitch-around with the struggling Avisail Garcia on deck, but then Garcia burned Pineda with an RBI single that scored Lawrie.

J.B. Shuck's ground-rule double plated Navarro to make it 2-0, and Tim Anderson followed with a two-run double down the left-field line on an 0-2 pitch.

What started out looking like a harmless inning for Pineda ended with the Sox leading 4-0. These struggles are obviously a trend for the New York pitcher, but it seems to be one of those hard-to-explain things in baseball.

The Sox added one more run in the sixth, and that was more than enough for starter Miguel Gonzalez, who upped his won-loss record to 2-4 with one of his best starts of the season. He went seven shutout innings, allowing only five hits. He struck out three and walked one.

Zach Duke and David Robertson combined for two inning of scoreless relief, and the Sox (44-41) finished off their fifth consecutive series win. The Sox haven't been able to sweep anybody during that time, mind you, but an 11-5 record over the past 16 games is pretty good.

Monday, July 4, 2016

White Sox take two out of three from Astros

Chris Sale
The Houston Astros had won 11 out of their previous 12 games through Friday, so it was impressive to see the White Sox come back and take the final two games of a three-game series this weekend.

The Sox (42-40) are now two games over .500 for the first time since June 4, and they have won four consecutive series -- including three against winning teams (Boston, Toronto, Houston). Here's a look back at the weekend that was:

Friday, July 1
Astros 5, White Sox 0: The Sox's offensive inconsistency reared its head again in the opener of the series. The South Siders had scored 15 runs in their final two games in the previous series against Minnesota, but they couldn't get anything done Friday against Mike Fiers -- who is nothing more than a league-average starter -- and three Houston relievers.

The Sox were limited to just five hits and went 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position.

It was a shame, because one of Miguel Gonzalez's better starts went to waste. He went seven innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on three hits. Through the first six innings, the Astros managed only one run against Gonzalez, and that came on a cheap infield single in the fourth.

An error on Tyler Saladino opened the door for Houston in the seventh, and Carlos Gomez homered off Gonzalez to make it 3-0 Astros. That was essentially the final nail in the coffin, although Houston tacked on two more in the eighth against Sox reliever Chris Beck for good measure.

Saturday, July 2
White Sox 7, Astros 6: Sox ace Chris Sale collected his league-leading 14th victory on a day where he had less than his best stuff.

Jose Altuve homered for Houston in the first inning, and the Astros touched Sale up for three runs in the third to take a 4-2 lead.

The Sox would rally. J.B. Shuck homered in the fourth, and then Dioner Navarro delivered a two-run single in the fifth to put the South Siders ahead to stay at 5-4.

Shuck added an RBI triple in the eighth and came around to score on a double by Tim Anderson. That increased the Sox lead to 7-4, and those two runs would prove to be the difference.

Perhaps the biggest sequence of the game came in the bottom of the eighth. Sale allowed a base hit to George Springer, and Todd Frazier committed a two-base error that put Houston runners on second and third with nobody out.

Sox reliever Nate Jones was summoned, and he got the next three hitters out, allowing only one of the inherited runners to score. The Astros missed perhaps their best opportunity to get back in the game right there.

Closer David Robertson retired the first two hitters in the bottom of the ninth before giving up a home run to A.J. Reed that made the score 7-6. Robertson then fanned Colby Rasmus to secure his 22nd save of the season.

Sunday, July 3
White Sox 4, Astros 1: There has been a lot of talk about a lack of run support for Jose Quintana, and much of that discussion is justified. However, that narrative obscured the fact that Quintana had a lousy June. He went 0-3 with a 5.51 ERA in five starts for the month.

On Sunday, the good Quintana (6-8) made his triumphant return. The left-hander earned his first win since May 8 with a brilliant seven-inning performance. He gave up a home run to Springer on his second pitch of the game, but allowed no runs after that.

Quintana allowed just two hits over seven innings, and he retired the final 15 hitters he faced.

The Sox got two runs in the third and two more in the eighth. They went 3 for 8 with runners in scoring position, with Jose Abreu, Brett Lawrie and Navarro all collecting RBI singles in the clutch.

Jones was once again strong, working a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth with two strikeouts.

Robertson was a bit shaky in the ninth. He allowed a leadoff hit to Marwin Gonzalez and walked Gomez. That brought Reed to the plate representing the tying run with two outs.

During Saturday's ninth inning, Reed took Robertson deep on a cut fastball. He did not see that pitch this time. Robertson threw him four straight breaking balls, the last of which was a nasty knuckle-curve that Reed swung over the top of for strike three.

Robertson is now 23 for 25 in save opportunities this season.

Monday, June 27, 2016

White Sox take two out of three from Blue Jays

Todd Frazier (21)
Since when did Toronto Blue Jays fans start traveling well?

I feel like U.S. Cellular Field was overrun with Toronto fans this weekend -- especially during Saturday's game.

I blame White Sox management for the large quantities of visiting fans that have been populating the Cell this season. Seven years without a playoff appearance has led to fewer Sox fans wanting to come to the park and support the team, so that makes more tickets available for fans of the visiting club.

I get that, but that didn't make it any less annoying when I had the Toronto version of Ronnie "Woo Woo" Wickers seated to my left on Saturday.

I have little patience for fans who excessively celebrate mundane things, such as major league players executing routine defensive plays. On Saturday, I heard more "Wooooooooooo!" than I care to discuss. This fan seemed pretty excited every time a Blue Jays fielder successfully caught a pop fly.

Even though the Sox lost Saturday, they took two out of three in the series, and Mr. "Wooooooooooo!" can go back to Canada secure in the knowledge that his beloved Jays went 1-5 against the Sox this season.

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

Friday, June 25
White Sox 3, Blue Jays 2: Todd Frazier's two-out RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning scored Tim Anderson with what proved to be the winning run in a game that was nip-and-tuck throughout.

It's been an interesting season for Frazier, to say the least. His batting average has been hovering around the Mendoza line -- he's at .201 through Sunday's play -- and that has led to fans drawing comparisons between him and past Sox busts such as Adam Dunn and Adam LaRoche.

Thing is, Frazier has 21 home runs and 49 RBIs, which puts him on pace to hit about 44 homers and knock in 104 runs if he keeps this pace over 162 games.

LaRoche had only 12 homers and 44 RBIs for the entire 2015 season, and I struggle to come up with any key hits he had for the Sox.

Frazier needs to get more hits, no question about that, but at least he has provided some key hits at important times that have produced victory for the Sox. Friday night was the latest example.

Closer David Robertson escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the ninth to preserve this win. He struck out Edwin Encarnacion on a 3-2 pitch, then got Michael Saunders to pop out to shortstop to end a heart-stopping inning.

Saturday, June 26
Blue Jays 10, White Sox 8: Now I've seen everything. The Sox out-homered the Blue Jays, 7-1, in this game, but still managed to lose, thanks to poor starting pitching by Miguel Gonzalez.

Toronto had a 5-0 lead by the time it finished hitting in the second inning. The Sox fought back -- Brett Lawrie's inside-the-park home run was the first of back-to-back-to-back home runs that brought the South Siders within two runs at 5-3.

Dioner Navarro and J.B. Shuck went deep during the barrage against Toronto starter R.A. Dickey.

Lawrie would go on to become the first Sox player since Ron Santo(!) to hit a inside-the-parker and a conventional homer in the same game. Santo accomplished that feat June 9, 1974, in a loss to the Boston Red Sox at Comiskey Park.

Shortly after the Sox got back into Saturday's game, Gonzalez put them back in the hole by coughing up a three-run top of the fourth inning that extended Toronto's lead to 8-3.

The Sox chipped away, mostly with solo home runs. Lawrie went deep in the fourth and added an RBI single in the sixth. Anderson homered in the seventh. Alex Avila's blast in the eighth made it 8-7.

But Toronto scored two insurance runs in the top of the ninth to go up 10-7, which proved important when Adam Eaton hit a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth to cap the scoring.

Sunday, June 27
White Sox 5, Blue Jays 2: Chris Sale once again showed why he is the best pitcher in the American League with another masterful performance in the rubber match.

He shut the Jays out through the first seven innings, and needed only 99 pitches to get through the eighth. Sale struck out seven, walked only two and allowed five hits to pick up his major league-best 13th victory of the season.

The Sox got a three-hit day from Melky Cabrera and another home run from Anderson to build a 4-0 lead through seven innings.

Toronto finally chipped away at Sale with two in the eighth on solo home runs by Troy Tulowitzki and Junior Lake.

Shuck, of all people, answered with a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth that made the Sox lead a little more comfortable at 5-2.

There would be no drama from Robertson on this day. He needed just 10 pitches to retire Josh Donaldson, Encarnacion and Saunders, all on lazy fly balls to the outfield. The Sox closer is now 20 for 22 in save opportunities this season.

The Sox have won two consecutive series and have pulled their record back to .500 at 38-38. Next up, three games at home against the Minnesota Twins on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Big comebacks mean little if you lose the next day

Adam Eaton
The White Sox were trailing 7-0 in the bottom of the third inning Monday night against the Detroit Tigers.

Incredibly, they rallied to win, 10-9, in 12 innings on a walk-off single by Adam Eaton. It was the Sox's biggest comeback since June 28, 2002, when they erased an 8-0 deficit to beat the Cubs, 13-9.

The Sox (32-32) had lost 22 out of 30 games coming into Monday, so the popular narrative after this win is going to be this: Is this inspiring, come-from-behind victory going to be the thing that puts the Sox back on track?

Well, maybe. There were plenty of positives to take out of Monday's game. Jose Abreu homered for the second straight game and knocked in three runs. Eaton had a four-hit night, and Brett Lawrie and Avisail Garcia delivered clutch, RBI-producing hits with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning.

Garcia's at-bat was perhaps his best of the season, as he battled back from an 0-2 count before lining a game-tying single to left-center off Detroit closer Francisco Rodriguez.

The Sox and their fans will take the win and be happy about it for sure, but it's worth nothing the Tigers have their ace, Jordan Zimmermann, pitching Tuesday. He'll be opposed by Miguel Gonzalez in the one pitching matchup in this series that does not favor the Sox.

If the Sox lose to Zimmermann, we're right back in that mode where we're talking about losing 23 of 32. If the Sox win tonight, hey, that's two in a row and a rare series win against a divisional foe. There's a big difference between those two mentalities, and it goes to show the momentum from Monday's win can be fleeting if it's not backed up with another victory in Game 2 of the three-game series.


Friday, May 6, 2016

Erik Johnson's stay in the White Sox rotation a short one

Erik Johnson is back in Charlotte.
Erik Johnson's audition for the fifth spot in the White Sox starting rotation did not go well Thursday night, as he suffered a 7-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox.

Johnson needed 81 pitches to get through the first three innings, and he was fortunate to get through five innings. He allowed four runs on eight hits, walking three and striking out six. He did retire seven of the last eight hitters he faced, and ended up throwing 108 pitches.

Still, he was optioned back to Triple-A Charlotte after the game.

The Sox (19-10) still have a four-game lead in the American League Central despite losing two out of three to Boston. They'll look to get back on track this weekend with a three-game set against the Minnesota Twins.

Mat Latos, Chris Sale and Jose Quintana are lined up to pitch in this series. Carlos Rodon will get the opener of a three-game series that starts Monday in Texas, but then the Sox will need a fifth starter again for Tuesday's game against the Rangers.

The guess here is Miguel Gonzalez will get his second opportunity to try to secure the spot. The right-hander allowed five runs on 11 hits in 5.1 innings against the Toronto Blue Jays on April 25, a game the Sox eventually won, 7-5.

Gonzalez most recently pitched Wednesday for Triple-A Charlotte, which would put him in line to pitch Tuesday. He's 1-0 with a 2.65 ERA in four starts for the Knights. He's thrown only 17 innings, however, as one of those four starts was cut short when he was struck with a line drive in the first inning.

In other pitching news, Sox reliever Jake Petricka has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a hip problem. Right-hander Tommy Kahnle has taken that spot in the bullpen.

With Johnson's demotion, veteran right-hander Scott Carroll has been recalled to take a spot in the bullpen, according to a tweet by CSNChicago's Dan Hayes. The Sox bullpen has worked seven innings the past two games, and Carroll is the kind of pitcher who can provide multiple innings in relief, if necessary.

The Sox also are sending catcher Alex Avila on a rehab assignment. Avila has been on the disabled list since straining his hamstring April 23.

Friday, April 29, 2016

John Danks torpedoes another White Sox winning streak

John Danks is 0-4 in four starts.
From April 9 to 15, the White Sox won five games in a row. John Danks put a stop to that by getting shelled in Tampa Bay on April 16.

The Sox won six games in a row this week. Danks put a stop to that Thursday by getting shelled in Baltimore.

The veteran left-hander was staked to an early 2-0 lead on Todd Frazier's first-inning home run, but it was all downhill from there as the Orioles clobbered the South Siders, 10-2.

Danks lasted five-plus innings, allowing six runs on nine hits. He struck out four and walked two, one of which was a four-pitch free pass to Baltimore's No. 9 hitter, Caleb Joseph, in the third inning. That walk started a four-run Orioles rally that featured back-to-back home runs by Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo. By the time the fourth inning rolled around, the Sox were facing a 5-2 deficit.

Baltimore broke it open with five in the sixth. Jake Petricka, providing no relief, gave up a grand slam to Manny Machado, but realistically, the game was lost early when Danks let it get away from him.

The Sox are 16-7 through 23 games, but Danks is 0-4. His ERA has swelled to 7.25. His WHIP sits at an unsightly 1.746.

Danks' woes have created the first crisis for the Sox in this 2016 season. As we've stated before, we can't attribute this slow start to a small sample size, because Danks finished last year on a struggling note. If you combine his final 10 starts of 2015 with his first four starts of this year, you come up with an ugly 1-11 record and a 5.13 ERA.

"It's been a pretty miserable April," Danks said in this MLB.com article. "I'm just not throwing enough strikes, just not throwing enough quality strikes. There's been games where I can full on eliminate a pitch, because it doesn't have a chance."

If you can believe it, Danks' velocity is down from last year. His average fastball velocity is 87.90 mph through four starts this season. That's only six miles an hour quicker than his changeup, which sits at 81.16 on average. They say you want an average variance of 9 to 11 mph between those two pitches, so Danks' reduced velocity is really killing him. It's hard to tell the difference between the fastball and the change. To the hitters' eye, it all looks the same. Danks is easy pickings for a hard-hitting team such as the Orioles right now.

By way of comparison, his fastball velocity in 2015 averaged 89.86. Danks had 15 starts, most of them toward the end of last year, where his fastball averaged 90 mph. If he touches 90 with his four-seamer, that's at least enough to give him a fighting chance with the 81 mph changeup. Right now, those lost three ticks on his fastball have put him in a situation where he needs to be pinpoint with his command, and he has been anything but pinpoint.

The Sox have to be thinking about making a change at the back of the rotation at this point. We've already seen Miguel Gonzalez come up for a spot start. Other viable options from Triple-A Charlotte include Erik Johnson and Jacob Turner.

General manager Rick Hahn has addressed several problems on this team since the end of last season -- a new third baseman, a new catching duo, a new second baseman, a new shortstop, an upgraded outfield defense. The Sox have the look of a contender, and they've come too far to show too much patience with Danks.

I'd be inclined to make a change now, but at most Danks should get no more than two more starts to pull himself together. It's hard to sustain winning streaks when you've got one starting pitcher who is putting you in a three-, four-, or five-run hole in the early innings more often than not.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Miguel Gonzalez gamble fails; White Sox offense rallies

Former Sox pitcher Gavin Floyd gave up Toronto's lead Monday.
Miguel Gonzalez did not distinguish himself Monday in his first start in a White Sox uniform. His fastball velocity was decent enough -- 90-91 mph -- but his command was not precise.

And a pitcher without overwhelming stuff can't afford to be imprecise against the powerful Toronto batting order.

The Blue Jays No. 2 through No. 6 hitters -- Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Troy Tulowitzki and Michael Saunders -- went a combined 7 for 13 with a home run, three doubles and five runs scored against Gonzalez.

Gonzalez lasted 5.1 innings, allowing five runs on 11 hits. He struck out six and walked two. The Sox trailed 5-1 after six innings, and the Blue Jays had their ace, Marcus Stroman, on the mound.

Game over, right?

Well, maybe it would have been over last year. Not this year. The Sox rallied for five runs in the seventh inning, all after two were out, and ended up beating Toronto, 7-5. It was probably the most satisfying win of the Sox's 14-6 start. 

Stroman left with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning, still leading 5-1. But Toronto lefty Brett Cecil could not get anybody out. Adam Eaton singled up the middle on a 1-2 pitch to drive in two runs and bring the Sox within 5-3. Jimmy Rollins followed with an RBI single to make it 5-4, and then the Blue Jays tried to coax Jose Abreu to get himself out by swinging at bad pitches.

Abreu is in a terrible slump. He has been swinging at sliders in the dirt routinely as of late, but this time he laid off Cecil's low breaking pitches and took a walk to reload the bases.

The Blue Jays then summoned former Sox right-hander Gavin Floyd to face Todd Frazier. I have to say, Toronto is unlikely to defend its AL East title this year if it doesn't have anybody better than Floyd to bring in with the bases loaded, two outs and a one-run lead in the seventh inning.

Frazier got a 0-1 cut fastball and lined it down the left-field line for a two-run double that put the Sox ahead to stay at 6-5. The South Siders added an insurance run in the ninth, and the bullpen did the rest.

Zach Putnam, Dan Jennings, Matt Albers and David Robertson combined for 3.2 innings of scoreless relief. Robertson converted his eighth save in nine chances. Albers is unscored upon in his last 30 appearances, breaking the previous team record of 29 -- set by reliever Jesse Crain in 2013.

Useless stat of the day: The White Sox have scored 17 of their 68 runs this season in the seventh inning. Go figure.

Getting back to Gonzalez, we'll see if the Sox give him another shot. We were told velocity was the reason the Baltimore Orioles let him go after spring training, but it seemed like command was a bigger problem for him Monday than velocity. Did Sox brass see enough to believe he might be a better fifth starter option than John Danks?

Monday, April 25, 2016

White Sox put John Danks on notice (finally)

We're three weeks into the season, and the White Sox are coming off a sweep of the Texas Rangers that concluded a 5-2 homestand.

The South Siders have surprised even the biggest optimists by posting a 13-6 record through the first 19 games -- that's the most wins in the American League entering Monday's play.

That said, there was some roster juggling necessary over the past week. Catcher Alex Avila pulled a hamstring during Saturday's 4-3 win over Texas, and Kevan Smith was recalled from Triple-A Charlotte as Avila was placed on the disabled list.

More notably, Erik Johnson was optioned back to Triple-A Charlotte after going unused on the homestand, and Miguel Gonzalez was called up to start Monday's game against the Toronto Blue Jays -- the first of a weeklong, seven-game road trip.

Ace Chris Sale's start was pushed back to Tuesday. Jose Quintana will start Wednesday's game. For the second time this season, John Danks had his turn skipped, and he will pitch either Thursday or Friday against Baltimore.

It appears the Sox are (finally) sending a message to Danks that his spot in the rotation is not secure. The Sox are 0-3 in Danks' three starts this year, and 13-3 behind their other four starting pitchers.

Obviously, there will be some regression in those numbers as we go along, but Danks has earned his 0-3 record, which is coupled with a 6.23 ERA, a 5.52 FIP, a 1.65 WHIP and a 1.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

His struggles cannot be attributed to a small sample size, either, given his high ERAs in the past three seasons (4.75, 4.74, and 4.71). Right-handed batters are hitting .309 against Danks this year, after hitting .294 against him last year. Sending him to the mound against Toronto would be akin to raising the white flag, given the strong right-handed hitters in the Blue Jays lineup (Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista, Russell Martin, Edwin Encarnacion, Troy Tulowitzki).

Toronto hitters had a 1.021 OPS in two games against Danks last year. In contrast, Danks had one of his best starts of 2015 -- seven scoreless innings -- against Baltimore, so from a matchup perspective, this Toronto series is a great time to skip Danks.

And, in case you were wondering, here are Gonzalez's numbers against the Blue Jays since 2012:

7-3, 2.61 ERA, 76 IP, 56 H, 7 HR, 21 BB, 54 K

Having played in Baltimore, Gonzalez has seen quite a bit of the Blue Jays, and he's won his share of the battles. That doesn't mean he'll win Monday -- there's a reason Baltimore released him. The Orioles let him go because his fastball velocity had dipped from 90-92 to 86-88. The Sox say Gonzalez's velocity came back in the two starts he has made at Charlotte, and that's why they are giving him a chance.

If nothing else, it's encouraging to see the Sox are considering other options for the No. 5 starting job beyond Danks, who has simply not pitched well enough to have a firm grip on the spot. We might learn that he's still the best option they have (for the time being), but it's clear the longest-serving, highest-paid member of the Sox is now officially pitching to keep his job.

Monday, April 4, 2016

White Sox sign pitcher Miguel Gonzalez; Jerry Sands makes Opening Day roster

Miguel Gonzalez
Catching up on a couple of roster moves from over the weekend ...

The White Sox on Sunday signed pitcher Miguel Gonzalez to a minor league deal.

Gonzalez, 31, has a career record of 39-33 with a 3.82 ERA. However, he is coming off a bad season with the Baltimore Orioles. He went 9-12 with a 4.91 ERA in 26 starts in 2015. His fastball averaged about 92 mph last season, but reports indicate he never topped 90 mph this spring. The Orioles decided they had seen enough and released him Friday.

The Sox will send him to Charlotte and hope he regains his lost velocity. This also is a sign the team might not be as confident in Mat Latos as they are claiming to be. Latos pitched four shutout innings in a 5-3 Sox exhibition win over the San Diego Padres on Friday, but he once again ran out of gas in the fifth -- allowing three runs.

Gonzalez could be another stopgap option if Latos falters.

The Sox also finalized their 25-man roster by reassigning pitcher Phillippe Aumont, first baseman Travis Ishikawa, center fielder Jacob May and catcher Hector Sanchez to minor league camp.

That means outfielder Jerry Sands surprisingly made the club. I was not overly impressed by Sands in spring training -- he posted a .212/.263/.404 slash line with three home runs and 11 RBIs in 52 at-bats.

Sands historically cannot hit right-handers, but the Sox apparently like his .292 career batting average and .846 career OPS against left-handed pitchers. The South Siders were woeful offensively against lefties in 2015, posting a .645 team OPS. Management must believe Sands can help improve that figure.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Orioles surrender draft pick, sign Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
One significant signing from the weekend I neglected to mention: The Baltimore Orioles signed pitcher Yovani Gallardo to a three-year deal worth a reported $35 million.

Gallardo rejected a qualifying offer from his previous club -- the Texas Rangers -- so that means the Orioles had to surrender a draft pick to sign him.

No doubt, that's why Gallardo stayed on the market for this long. Despite a rising WHIP and a declining strikeout rate, Gallardo has made 30 or more starts for seven consecutive seasons. There's value in that. He won 13 games and posted a 3.42 ERA for the Rangers in 2015.

There's no question Baltimore needed to address its starting rotation, which finished next-to-last in ERA and third-to-last in innings pitched last season. The Orioles had one of the weakest starting staffs in the American League by any measure, and then they lost Wei-Yin Chen to the Miami Marlins in free agency.

The Orioles now add Gallardo to a projected rotation that includes Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jimenez, Miguel Gonzalez and Kevin Gausman.

Is it enough? I say no, because Gallardo represents more of the same. He's a middle-of-the-rotation guy on a staff that's already fill of middle-of-the-rotation guys. Who can the Orioles trust to be the ace? They simply don't have one.

Baltimore has a good offense, and I'm sure that would be the reason for optimism for them and their fans. Problem is, they play in a division that is full of good offenses. The Toronto Blue Jays and Boston Red Sox are certainly going to score a lot of runs. The New York Yankees are likely going to score a lot of runs. Only the Tampa Bay Rays figure to struggle offensively among AL East teams.

The Orioles are going to have to score a lot to overcome their pitching issues, and it's going to be a tall order to outslug lineups such as those in Toronto and Boston.

As for impact on the White Sox, the Orioles surrendering their pick moves the South Siders up from No. 28 to No. 27 in the draft order, so there's that.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Thursday produces two wins for perceived ALDS underdogs

The prevailing wisdom says the Detroit Tigers and the Los Angeles Angels are on a collision course to meet in the American League Championship Series.

Naturally, the Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals have other ideas, and both perceived underdogs threw a wrench in that plan Thursday with Game 1 victories in AL Division Series action.

The Orioles took advantage of Detroit's leaky defense and lousy bullpen by scoring eight runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, breaking open a tight contest on their way to a 12-3 victory.

Meanwhile, third baseman Mike Moustakas hit a solo home run in the top of the 11th inning to lift the Royals to a 3-2 win over the Angels.

Baltimore's rotation: Better than we think?

Anyone else think the experts are underestimating the Orioles? They won 96 games this year. They must have done something right.

I keep hearing Detroit has an overpowering edge in starting pitching. I'll be honest: I disagree with that. Detroit's starting pitchers are all prominent media names, but they haven't necessarily pitched better than the guys in the Baltimore rotation throughout the season.

We saw today how things don't always go the way you might expect. Quite a few observers assumed Detroit ace Max Scherzer was going to own Baltimore's Game 1 starter, Chris Tillman.

That did not happen. Tillman only lasted five innings, but he allowed just two runs and left the mound with his team leading, 3-2. He ended up getting the win.

Scherzer took the loss, allowing five earned runs over 7.1 innings pitched.

Shocking? Not really.

Scherzer had a 3.15 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP this year. In comparison, Tillman had a 3.34 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. Sure, you would have to give Scherzer the edge on paper in that matchup, but not decisively so.

The Game 2 matchup in this series is an interesting one. Detroit's Justin Verlander has the Cy Young awards and the playoff experience. He also has a puffy 4.54 ERA, his worst since the 2008 season. Baltimore's Wei-Yin Chen is unfamiliar to casual fans, but don't underestimate him: He won 16 games this year and posted a 3.54 ERA -- a full run better than Verlander. It's hard to bet against Verlander in the playoffs, but his mound opponent is formidable. Game 2 is hardly a slam dunk for the Tigers.

Looking ahead to Game 3, Detroit will send David Price to the mound against Baltimore's Miguel Gonzalez. Again, Price has a Cy Young award and the playoff experience. But it's Gonzalez who posted the better ERA this year (3.23 to 3.26).

This isn't to say the Detroit starters won't ultimately outpitch the Baltimore starters over the course of this five-game series. They might. But keep this in mind: The Orioles have a great chance to win if their starters are good enough to keep the game close into the late innings.

Here's why: Baltimore has a nasty bullpen. Closer Zach Britton and his power 96 mph sinker totaled 37 saves and a 1.65 ERA this year. The Orioles have a outstanding lefty-righty combination setting him up. Midseason acquisition Andrew Miller had a 1.35 ERA in 23 games with the O's since coming over from Boston. Darren O'Day, the right-handed setup guy, posted a 1.70 ERA this season.

We saw all three of those relievers in Thursday's game. The Tigers found out they are pretty tough to beat.

Two of the relievers Detroit is counting on to work in high-leverage situations, Joba Chamberlain and Joakim Soria, contributed to that eight-run eighth inning meltdown in this opening loss. You better believe the bullpen is a huge concern for the Tigers. Detroit's 4.29 bullpen ERA was third worst in the majors this year.

Yes, Detroit has a bit of an edge in starting pitching, primarily because of all that playoff experience among Scherzer, Verlander and Price. However, I don't believe it's a huge edge. If there's a huge edge in this series, it's the advantage the Baltimore bullpen enjoys over the Detroit relievers.

All the Oriole starters really need to do is keep it close into the late innings. That's what Tillman did Thursday. Baltimore got its desired result.

Can the Royals pull it off? 

If you're looking for a reason to believe Kansas City can upset the 98-win Angels, here it is: Los Angeles has a starting pitching staff that is in disarray.

Jered Weaver is the Angels' lone reliable starter, and he pitched well in Game 1 on Thursday. However, Kansas City's Jason Vargas matched him. The game was tied, 2-2, when the starters left, and the Angels' bullpen blinked first with Moustakas hitting the home run off Fernando Salas.

Los Angeles has burned up its best starter and trails in the series. The Angels will be counting on rookie Matt Shoemaker, who hasn't pitched since Sept. 15 due to an oblique strain, in Game 2. C.J. Wilson is in line to pitch Game 3 for Los Angeles. Wilson has had a terrible second half -- his ERA is 6.05 over his last 16 starts.

The Angels definitely miss ace Garrett Richards, who is gone for the year with a serious knee injury.

Kansas City has a shot if it can take advantage of the iffy Angels starters. The Royals are 65-4 when leading after six innings, so it could be tough for Los Angeles if its pitchers put them behind early in games.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Does Ubaldo Jimenez make Baltimore a contender? I'll vote no

The Baltimore Orioles have been seeking a starting pitcher the entire offseason. They finally got one Monday night when Ubaldo Jimenez agreed to a deal that is reportedly worth $50 million over four years.

Jimenez joins a rotation that includes Chris Tillman, Wei-Yin Chen, Miguel Gonzalez and Bud Norris.

Is the addition of Jimenez enough for the Orioles to become a major factor in the American League East? If I were a betting man, I'd say no. I'd still put Baltimore behind Boston, New York and Tampa Bay in baseball's toughest division.

I've never been a big believer in Jimenez. Yes, he went 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA in 32 starts with Cleveland last year. Yes, he pitched like an ace down the stretch and was one of the keys to the Indians getting into the playoffs as a wild-card team.

However, this is a pitcher who has never been consistent. Even last year in a "good season," Jimenez was all over the map. He was 7-5 with a 4.49 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP his first 20 starts. League average at best. He salvaged that with a red-hot finish over his final 12 outings, going 6-4 with a 1.72 ERA.

Jimenez' best season was 2010 with the Colorado Rockies, when he went 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA. But again, a closer look reveals his inconsistency. Over his first 14 starts of that year, Jimenez enjoyed the best stretch of his career. He went 13-1 with a 1.15 ERA.

But look at his last 19 starts in 2010: 6-7 with a 4.34 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. For a National League starter, that's worse than league average. 

In 2011 and 2012, Jimenez went a combined 19-30 with a 5.03 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP. Basically, he was brutal for two full seasons.

What it comes down to is this: Jimenez pitched like an ace for 14 games with the Rockies at the start of 2010. Then, he stunk for three full calendar years. From the last half of 2010 through the first half of 2013, he was a below-average starter. Finally, he pitched like an ace for 12 games with the Indians at the end of last season.

Which Jimenez do you think will show up in Baltimore? I think his three years of badness outweigh his 26 good starts, which were three years apart. Twenty-six good starts in four years. That's not even a full season. That's not the stuff top-of-the-rotation pitchers are made of.

If I were an Orioles fan, I wouldn't get too excited about this signing. I don't see Jimenez having much success facing the stacked lineups in Boston and New York.