Showing posts with label Welington Castillo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Welington Castillo. Show all posts

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.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Reynaldo Lopez good, White Sox bullpen bad

Reynaldo Lopez
The White Sox lost for the first time this season Monday night, 4-2 to the Toronto Blue Jays, although it was not Reynaldo Lopez's fault.

The right-hander's 2018 debut was an impressive one. He went six innings, allowing only one run on two hits. One of those hits was a solo home run by Josh Donaldson, the other an infield single by Curtis Granderson that could have just as easily been an error on shortstop Tim Anderson.

Lopez struck out six and walked two, and the Sox led, 2-1, in the seventh inning when he left the game.

Alas, relievers Luis Avilan and Danny Farquhar could not hold the lead. We're told that Avilan is a lefty specialist, but the early returns have not been impressive in a small sample size.

In the season opener, Avilan gave up a ringing double to Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas. On Monday, he walked Granderson, allowing the tying run to reach base. Farquhar entered the game and served up a two-strike meatball to Russell Martin, who hit a two-run homer to put Toronto ahead, 3-2.

I don't like the home run at all, but I like the walk in a one-run game even less. Avilan has to get left-handed batters out -- that's his one purpose on the roster.

Farquhar (1-1) gave up another home run in the eighth inning, this one to Aledmys Diaz, that made it 4-2. I don't think this will be the last time the Sox struggle to get outs in the seventh and eighth innings of close games -- the bullpen is the biggest weakness of the team.

The Sox showed an ability to come from behind in each of their first two games, which is a good habit to get into. However, you can't come back every day, and the Toronto bullpen was up to the task the last two innings of Monday's game.

It's unfortunate, because a two-homer game from Welington Castillo went to waste, not to mention the strong outing from Lopez, whose performance would oftentimes be good enough to earn a win.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Kansas City's bullpen -- it's not what it used to be

Brandon Maurer
Remember the time when it was a six-inning game against the Kansas City Royals? It wasn't that long ago that they had Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland at the back end of their bullpen.

If you were trailing in the late innings against the Royals, you were done. Plain and simple. Kansas City used that dominant bullpen to win back-to-back American League pennants in 2014 and 2015, and it won it all in 2015.

Those days now are gone. Only Herrera remains from that juggernaut bullpen, and he's pitching the ninth inning these days -- not the sixth or the seventh as he did during the Royals' heyday.

And right now, it looks as though Kansas City is going to struggle to get through the seventh and eighth innings and get save opportunities for Herrera.

The White Sox on Saturday victimized Kansas City's setup-man-for-now, Brandon Maurer, scoring three runs in the top of the eighth inning to rally for a 4-3 victory.

Sunday's game was snowed out, so the Sox left Kansas City with a 2-0 record.

With the Sox trailing 3-1, Yoan Moncada started Saturday's rally with a 433-foot home run off Maurer. Two outs, a single and a walk later, Welington Castillo took a 3-0 fastball from Maurer off the right-center field wall for a two-run double to give the Sox a 4-3 lead they would not relinquish.

Give manager Rick Renteria credit for green-lighting Castillo on a 3-0 pitch. It wasn't an obvious call because Castillo was 0 for 8 on the season to that point, while the on-deck hitter in that situation, Tim Anderson, already has two home runs this year.

Bullpen management was the other storyline in this game. Nate Jones worked a scoreless eighth, while Joakim Soria held off Kansas City in the ninth to earn his first save in a Sox uniform.

Is that the way Renteria is going to handle late-inning, high-leverage situations moving forward? Possibly, but not necessarily.

Jones likely is the Sox's best reliever when healthy, and he was summoned to face the heart of the Kansas City order in the bottom of the eighth. He struck out Mike Moustakas and Lucas Duda, before a single and flyout concluded the inning.

That left Soria to face the bottom of the order in the ninth, and he worked around a broken-bat single by Alex Gordon and a walk to Jon Jay to get the save.

But what if the bottom of the order had been due up in the bottom of the eighth? Would Renteria still have used Jones, and then gone to Soria to face the top of the Kansas City order in the ninth? We don't know, but I will say I like the idea of using Jones to pitch in the most high-leverage situation.

In this particular game, that situation was the eighth inning, with powerful left-handed hitters Moustakas and Duda coming up for the Royals. Renteria went with Jones, and the move worked out for the Sox in this case.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Dubious definition of a 'key free agent' -- Mike Pelfrey

Mike Pelfrey -- in younger years
If you've watched MLB Network's offseason coverage lately -- and if you're reading my blog at this time of year, you probably have -- you may have noticed it has a tracker of "key free agents" running across its bottom crawl.

One by one, each team in MLB's logo is shown, followed by a list of that team's unsigned free agents. The White Sox have only one such unsigned free agent this year, and it never fails to make me smile to see him described as a "key free agent."

Good ol' Mike Pelfrey.

Yep, "Big Pelf" gets a mention, even though he went 3-12 with a 5.93 ERA for a Sox team that went 67-95 in 2017.

Key free agent? Ha! I'm quite sure the fate of the 2018 Sox rests on something other than Pelfrey's future with club, and I can't imagine too many rival teams are lining up to try to "steal" the journeyman right-hander who is entering his age 34 season away from the Sox.

Hey, something's got to keep me entertained during this offseason of very little baseball news, right?

Other additions to SoxFest

The Sox have announced a few additions to the SoxFest lineup. Catcher Welington Castillo, manager Rick Renteria and his coaching staff and former pitchers Jose Contreras and Jon Garland all will be at the Chicago Hilton from Jan. 26 to 28.

Monday, December 4, 2017

White Sox sign catcher Welington Castillo to two-year contract

Welington Castillo
Most White Sox fans seemed content with the catching platoon of Kevan Smith and Omar Narvaez going into the 2018 season.

After all, both players performed reasonably well in their first full season in the big leagues in 2017.

Team brass, however, saw it differently. The Sox on Friday signed catcher Welington Castillo to a two-year deal worth $15 million.

He isn't coming here to be the backup.

Castillo, 30, will receive $7.25 million in both 2018 and 2019. The Sox hold an $8 million option for 2020 with a $500,000 buyout.

The eight-year veteran is coming off the best season of his career. He hit .282/.323/.490 with 20 home runs and 53 RBIs in 96 games with the Baltimore Orioles in 2017. The 20 homers represent a career high, but Castillo has reached double figures in home runs for four straight seasons, so it's not unreasonable to expect him to hit 15 to 20 homers again next season.

Castillo also has worked with manager Rick Renteria before, having been a member of the Cubs in 2014. The Sox are hoping Castillo will represent a defensive upgrade over the Smith/Narvaez combo, as well. He has a history of blocking and throwing well, and last year, he threw out 49 percent of runners who attempted to steal against him (24 of 49).

His 7.4 fielding runs above average in 2017 represent a significant upgrade over both Smith (-7.7 fielding runs) and Narvaez (-10.7 fielding runs). Castillo was considered a below average framer until last year, so the hope is maybe he has mastered that skill and can steal a few strikes for what is expected to be a younger pitching staff.

Certainly, Castillo should provide a better offensive presence. Smith and Narvaez combined for only six home runs last season, and neither man is considered the long-term solution at the position. Castillo is here to bridge a gap for two years, because the Sox's best catching prospect (Zack Collins) isn't expected until 2019 under even the best-case scenario.

If Collins is ready to be an everyday catcher by the 2020 season, then the Sox can simply buy Castillo out. Or, if Collins does not develop, the club can pick up Castillo's option and still be in reasonable shape at an important defensive position for a year in which many people project the Sox to be ready to contend.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Here's why David Robertson has plenty of trade value

David Robertson
For all the trade talk swirling around White Sox starting pitcher Jose Quintana, it's possible closer David Robertson will be more coveted by pennant contenders when we hit July's trading deadline.

Robertson, 32, is having a good season that will mostly go unnoticed because he pitches for a losing team. The right-hander is 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA, with 11 saves in 12 opportunities, a 0.868 WHIP and 37 strikeouts in 25.1 innings.

A closer look at Robertson's numbers reveals that he's been at his best in save situations this year. Check out his splits for save situations and non-save situations:

Save situations: 1-0, 1.35 ERA, 21 Ks, 4 BBs, 13.1 IP, opponents slash of .091/.167/.182
Non-save situations: 2-2, 5.25 ERA, 16 Ks, 2 BBs, 12.0 IP, opponents slash of .217/.294/.391

The cliches about closers being much better in save situations seem to apply with Robertson this year. This thought occurred to me when I considered the two appearances Robertson has made in the past week.

He pitched Thursday in a 5-2 Sox win over the Baltimore Orioles, and he was not sharp. He entered with a 5-1 lead in the ninth -- a non-save situation -- gave up a solo home run to Welington Castillo and needed 31 pitches to navigate a laborious inning. Even though Baltimore never got the tying run to the plate, it was somewhat irritating to watch.

Contrast that with Robertson's performance Saturday, when he closed out a 5-2 Sox win over the Toronto Blue Jays. This was a save situation. Toronto's 3-4-5 hitters were due, and Robertson carved them up on 14 pitches. He got Jose Bautista to fly out, struck out Kendrys Morales swinging and struck out Justin Smoak looking.

The Blue Jays had no chance.

I realize that by writing this blog entry, I have likely ensured that Robertson will blow a save the next time he steps on the mound. But in the bigger picture, Robertson has proven this season that he can still shut the door on the opposition in high-leverage spots.

Some team out there has to want a reliever who is holding opponents to an .091 batting average in save situations, right?