Showing posts with label Yolmer Sanchez. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Yolmer Sanchez. Show all posts

Friday, July 13, 2018

Signs of a bad offense: Low OPS

So, I was looking at the White Sox hitting statistics, and with recent slumps by Jose Abreu, Matt Davidson and Daniel Palka -- and Avisail Garcia's return to the disabled list -- the Sox don't have a single hitter with an OPS at or above .800.

Here's what we're looking at for OPS on the current Sox roster:

Davidson: .776
Abreu: .746
Omar Narvaez: .740
Tim Anderson: .723
Yolmer Sanchez: .723
Palka: .711
Yoan Moncada: .710
Kevan Smith: .692
Leury Garcia: .678
Charlie Tilson: .640
Ryan LaMarre: .634
Adam Engel: .591

Yuck.

Well, the Kansas City Royals (26-66) are coming into Chicago this weekend. Maybe that will be the cure for what ails Davidson and other Sox hitters. We shall see.

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.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

James Shields beats Indians, gets first win since March 29

James Shields
I had a sense that Tuesday's pitching matchup provided the White Sox with their best chance to beat the Cleveland Indians in this week's four-game series.

Sure enough, the Sox won Tuesday, 5-1. 

Does it sound weird that I expected to win a James Shields start? Maybe, but my hopes for victory Tuesday were less about Shields and more about the Cleveland starter, Adam Plutko.

Plutko's name is not Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer or Mike Clevinger, and I figured he would be the one Indians starter the Sox could hit.

They hit him all right, as Yoan Moncada and Yolmer Sanchez hit home runs on back-to-back pitches in the bottom of the first inning. Matt Davidson added a pair of RBI doubles -- one in the first and one in the fifth -- and Omar Narvaez contributed an RBI single as the Sox touched up Plutko for five runs over 4.2 innings.

And, oh yeah, credit Shields (2-7) for doing his job. He went seven innings and allowed only one run on four hits. He didn't miss many bats -- only two strikeouts -- but he didn't walk anybody, and he induced a fair amount of weak contact with 14 fly-ball outs.

Shields has pitched six innings or more in each of his past 10 games, and this is his first victory since March 29 -- the season opener in Kansas City. His ERA is down to 4.63, after being at 6.14 after the month of April.

Is Shields emerging as a potential midseason trade candidate? I'm not holding my breath, but Sox fans can hope. He's pitching better now than at any point since he put on a Sox uniform.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

White Sox drop another one-run game to the Mariners

Felix Hernandez
The White Sox don't seem capable of winning a series right now -- they've lost their past six series in a row -- but at least this latest three-game set against the Seattle Mariners was more competitive than some of the others.

After winning the first game, the Sox suffered two one-run losses, including a 4-3 defeat Wednesday afternoon.

The Sox got off to a good start. Yoan Moncada hit Felix Hernandez's first pitch of the game for a solo home run. Yolmer Sanchez hit Hernandez's second pitch of the game for a double, and he scored later in the inning on a broken-bat single by Tim Anderson.

But James Shields (1-3) couldn't hold the early 2-0 lead. Seattle tied it at 2 with two runs in the third. The Sox retook the lead, 3-2, in the bottom of the inning on a bases-loaded groundout by Daniel Palka, who went 0 for 4 in his major league debut.

The Mariners tied it in the fifth on an RBI single by Nelson Cruz and took the lead for good in the sixth when Mike Zunino homered off Shields. Hernandez (3-2) kept the Sox off the board in the middle innings, and the Seattle bullpen tossed three innings of shutout relief.

The Sox dropped to 3-5 in one-run games. They've already lost two 1-0 games this season, including one Tuesday against the Mariners. This is a Sox team that is hitting .198 with runners in scoring position. With two outs and runners in scoring position, they are hitting a meager .161.

For all the justifiable consternation about the pitching staff, the Sox would have a few more wins if they were hitting, say, .230 with runners in scoring position. The overall team batting average is .236, so that shouldn't be too much to ask.

I keep thinking a market correction is coming on this, and while the Sox will never be a winning team this season, they should be able to pull out a few more victories with even a modest increase in production with men on base.

Monday, April 23, 2018

White Sox overmatched by defending champion Astros

Danny Farquhar
The White Sox have lost seven in a row and 12 out of 13. They were outscored, 27-2, at home by the defending champion Houston Astros over the weekend, and relief pitcher Danny Farquhar is fighting for his life after collapsing in the dugout Friday night because of a brain hemorrhage.

And, Monday's scheduled starter against the Seattle Mariners, Miguel Gonzalez, has just been placed on the 10-day disabled list with a swollen ERA, errr ... right rotator cuff inflammation.

The Sox purchased the contract of Chris Beck from Triple-A Charlotte and transferred Farquhar to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster. Greg Infante also is back on the Sox, having been recalled Saturday after Farquhar was rushed to the hospital Friday evening.

Reports indicate Farquhar, 31, who has a wife and three children, will need to remain in the hospital for a minimum of three weeks.

Anyone having fun yet this season? I guess it can only get better from here. Here's a look back at the weekend that was:

Friday, April 20
Astros 10, White Sox 0: It would have been foolish to expect a different outcome with James Shields pitching against Justin Verlander, but that doesn't mean it was easy to watch.

Shields hung in there for three innings before the Astros erupted for five runs in the fourth inning. Houston added four more in the sixth against the combination of Shields (1-2) and Farquhar, and obviously, what happened with Farquhar in the dugout after that inning was difficult for all those involved to witness.

The Sox managed only two hits off Verlander (3-0), who fanned five over six scoreless innings. With the game out of reach, the Astros chose not to extend their ace. They used a combination of three relievers that held the South Siders hitless over the last three innings.

Saturday, April 21
Astros 10, White Sox 1: This game was the most disappointing one of the weekend for me, as I had high hopes for Lucas Giolito coming into the season, but he has been dreadful in his first four starts.

He gave up four runs in the first inning Saturday, then walked the bases loaded in the second before allowing a grand slam to Josh Reddick to put the Sox in an 8-0 hole.

For good measure, Giolito walked the first two batters of the third inning before manager Rick Renteria mercifully made a pitching change.

Giolito's final line: 2 IP, 5 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 1 K, 7 BBs, only 32 of 71 pitches thrown for strikes.

Terrible. Giolito's season ERA now sits at 9.00. His WHIP is 1.850.

The Sox managed one run off Houston starter Dallas Keuchel (1-3) in six innings. Newly reacquired outfielder Trayce Thompson hit a solo home run in the fifth.

Sunday, April 22
Astros 7, White Sox 1: I wasn't overly thrilled to see Reynaldo Lopez walk four guys and strike out only two over five innings, but hey, he limited the Astros one run on four hits over that time.

These days, that qualifies as a great start for a Sox pitcher. The South Siders scored their one run in the second inning off Lance McCullers (3-1) on back-to-back doubles by Matt Davidson and Yolmer Sanchez.

Lopez, who reportedly was fighting a stomach bug, needed 100 pitches to get through five innings, but he exited in 1-1 tie.

The Astros put the game away, however, with five runs in the seventh inning off the combination of Aaron Bummer (0-1), Bruce Rondon and Nate Jones.

Bummer took the loss because he gave up a leadoff single to the only batter he faced, but Rondon was the reliever most responsible for the big inning. He faced five batters, retired only one and allowed two hits and two walks.

The Astros took a 6-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh, and most fans headed to the exits early, knowing a Houston sweep was imminent.

The Sox dropped to 1-8 at home this season, entering this week's three-game series against the Mariners.

Friday, April 20, 2018

White Sox bring back Trayce Thompson, trade Tyler Saladino to Milwaukee

Tyler Saladino
In separate deals Thursday, the White Sox acquired outfielder Trayce Thompson from the Oakland Athletics and traded infielder Tyler Saladino to the Milwaukee Brewers.

No other players were involved, as the Sox received cash from the Brewers and sent cash to the Athletics in the transactions.

Chicago fans already are familiar with Thompson, 27, who was drafted by the Sox in the second round of the 2009 draft and made his debut with the team in 2015.

Thompson hit .295 in 44 games with the 2015 Sox before being shipped to the Los Angeles Dodgers the following offseason as part of a three-team trade that brought third baseman Todd Frazier to the South Side.

The move initially was working out well for the Dodgers, as Thompson hit .290 over his first 110 at-bats as a fourth outfielder in Los Angeles, but then back trouble sidelined him and caused him to slump to a .225 average by year's end. Thompson hit only .122 in 27 games with the Dodgers in 2017. Los Angeles designated him for assignment at the end of March.

Thompson appeared in only three games with the A's, going 1 for 7 at the plate. He was designated for assignment earlier this week.

Saladino's story is not much different than Thompson's. The 28-year-old was a seventh-round draft pick of the Sox in 2010, made his major league debut in 2015 and had a respectable season in 2016, when he slashed .282/.315/.409 with eight home runs and 38 RBIs in 93 games.

But, back trouble ruined Saladino's 2017 season. He slumped to a .178/.254/.229 slash line in 78 games, failed to hit a home run and totaled only 10 RBIs.

He managed to make the Sox's roster coming out of camp this season and was 2 for 8 in six games so far.

Why would the Sox make these moves?

We've touched on it in past blogs. The Sox only had two true outfielders on the 25-man roster -- Avisail Garcia and Adam Engel. They've been plugging left field with a platoon of converted infielders in Nick Delmonico and Leury Garcia, and it's been ugly defensively.

Thompson probably will not hit much, but he can play all three outfield spots, and he serves as an insurance policy for center field if Engel (.179/.283/.205) continues to struggle at the plate. Also, Triple-A outfielder Ryan Cordell recently broke his clavicle and is expected to miss at least eight weeks. He was the outfielder in the system considered closest to big-league ready, and his injury left the Sox perilously thin in the outfield both at the major league level and in the high minors.

Enter Thompson to fill that void.

Saladino's best asset is his defensive versatility. He can competently play any position on the infield, but the Sox had a glut of utility guys, with Yolmer Sanchez and Leury Garcia also on the 25-man roster. Saladino was redundant and expendable.

How will Saladino help the Brewers? For now, he won't, because Milwaukee has optioned him to Triple-A Colorado Springs. 

And, in keeping with tradition, since Thompson has returned for a second tour of duty on the South Side, we would be remiss if we did not welcome him back:

Friday, April 6, 2018

White Sox home opener a brutal one

Pregame ceremonies for Opening Day 2018 at Guaranteed Rate Field
It's hard to say what the worst thing about the White Sox home opener was: the weather or the outcome of the game.

It was 41 degrees for first pitch, and temperatures were in the upper-30s for most of the game, accompanied by snowfall. Actually, the Sox played well while it was snowing -- they led the game, 7-3, after seven innings.

But a combination of terrible relief pitching and horrible defense allowed the Detroit Tigers to rally for a 9-7 victory in 10 innings. Detroit scored one run in the eighth off Nate Jones, three in the ninth off Joakim Soria to tie the game and two off the combination of Greg Infante and Aaron Bummer in the 10th inning to secure the win.

Most galling, with the Sox still ahead 7-4, Soria had two outs and two strikes on some guy named Niko Goodrum, but the veteran reliever could not put the game away. Goodrum smacked a two-run homer to make the score 7-6.

Soria also had two strikes on the next hitter, Nicholas Castellanos, but Castellanos managed a single to keep the game alive. That brought up Victor Martinez, whose RBI "double" tied the game at 7.

We put double in quotes, because this is where the Sox's lack of competent play in left field and weird roster construction finally cost them.

Martinez hit what I thought should have been a routine single to left field. But Leury Garcia tried to be a hero and make a catch on a ball he had no chance to reach. He took a bad route, and the ball skipped past him and rattled around in the left field corner, allowing the slow-footed Castellanos to score the tying run all the way from first base.

This cannot happen at the MLB level. Garcia needs to pull up, concede the single, keep Castellanos at second base and give Soria one more chance to retire the next hitter with a 7-6 lead. Soria did retire James McCann to end the inning, but the damage had been done.

We can't put all the blame on Garcia because he's an infielder being asked to play the outfield. In fact, the Sox have only two true outfielders on their roster -- Avisail Garcia and Adam Engel. They are trying to plug left field with two converted infielders -- Leury Garcia and Nick Delmonico -- and it's just not a very good idea.

I understand the desire to carry eight relievers. We are six games into the season, and the Sox have yet to have a starting pitcher go deeper than six innings. That's going to be the norm, not the exception, with this group, so all those arms in the bullpen are going to be needed and used.

That gives the Sox just a three-man bench, which is tough, but I think one of those three bench players needs to be an outfielder. As it stands now, the bench consists of catcher Omar Narvaez, infielder Tyler Saladino and whoever doesn't start in left field between Delmonico and Leury Garcia.

For me, Saladino and Leury Garcia are redundant on the roster. Both are utility infielders, and Leury Garcia is being miscast as "defensive replacement" in the outfield. Leury Garcia has a better bat than Saladino -- he had two hits and two RBIs in Thursday's game, but Saladino can play every position on the infield competently, while Garcia is a question mark with the glove no matter where you put him.

Let's not forget that while Yolmer Sanchez is the starting third baseman at this point, he is another player who can provide competent-to-good defense at any position on the infield.

Right now, the Sox have too many utility infielders on the roster and not enough outfielders. The two biggest warts on a limited Sox roster -- a shallow bullpen and a lack of competency in left field -- led to a brutal loss before a big crowd in the home opener.

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.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Catching up on a few other White Sox roster moves

Jake Petricka
A few other White Sox roster moves to note from the past week:

Relief pitchers Jake Petricka, Zach Putnam and Al Alburquerque, along with utility man Alen Hanson, were not tendered contracts for the 2018 season.

The Sox also avoided arbitration and agreed to a one-year contract with relief pitcher Danny Farquhar.

The lesson here? It pays to be healthy. Petricka appeared in only 36 games over the past two seasons (27 in 2017), while Putnam pitched in only 32 games over the past two years (7 in 2017). Both men generally have been useful when available, but if you're not available, what good are you?

No surprise to see the Sox move on from Alburquerque, who was signed a minor-league deal in August. He made 10 appearances in a September call-up, and while he posted a 1.13 ERA in those outings, he only has one effective pitch -- a slider -- and the Sox evidently didn't see enough to believe he can be a useful stopgap in 2018.

They apparently did see enough from Farquhar, who is healthy and posted a 4.20 ERA in 52 appearances combined between the Tampa Bay Rays and Sox last season. Farquhar's fastball-changeup combination makes him a useful piece against left-handed hitters, who slashed a paltry .185/.317/.222 against him in 2017.

As long as manager Rick Renteria is aware of Farquhar's reverse splits -- and I'm sure he is -- the veteran right-hander can help.

Hanson did not distinguish himself in 69 games with the Sox in 2017. He slashed .231/.276/.651 in 175 plate appearances, hitting four homers, driving in 10 runs and stealing nine bases.

Nothing special there, and Hanson is redundant on the roster with the likes of Leury Garcia, Yolmer Sanchez and Tyler Saladino. A team only needs so many utility players, and clearly, Hanson is the odd man out.

With these moves, the Sox's 40-man roster sits at 36.

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.

Monday, August 28, 2017

White Sox take two out of three from Detroit Tigers

Yolmer Sanchez
This weekend represented a rarity for the White Sox this season: They went into a three-game series in which the pitching matchups seemed to present them with an outstanding chance of winning at least two out of three.

The Sox did, in fact, take two out of three games from the Detroit Tigers, although the order in which they won this series was a little different than I anticipated. Let's look back on the weekend that was:

Aug. 25
White Sox 3, Tigers 2: This was the one game in the series where I felt the Tigers had the edge with their ace, Justin Verlander, going against Sox right-hander Miguel Gonzalez.

Perhaps I should have known better, because Gonzalez has had a strong second half. He's racked up seven quality starts in his past eight outings and lowered his season ERA from 5.15 to 4.30 in the process. And he more than matched Verlander in this game:

Gonzalez: 8 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 9 Ks, 0 BBs
Verlander: 7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 8Ks, 2 BBs

This one ended up being decided by bullpens, and while neither club has a good one, it was Detroit's relief corps that broke first.

With the score tied at 2, Tim Anderson led off the bottom of the ninth inning with a double off Joe Jimenez (0-2). Yolmer Sanchez followed a game-ending RBI single.

That made a winner of Sox reliever Juan Minaya (2-1), who worked 1-2-3 top of the ninth.

Aug. 26
Tigers 6, White Sox 3: I thought this would be the most favorable matchup for the Sox this weekend, so, of course, they lost.

Carlos Rodon (2-5) had allowed two runs or less and worked six innings or more in five straight starts coming into Saturday, but his hot streak ended against the Tigers.

The left-hander lasted only five innings and gave up five runs. Sanchez staked him to an early 2-0 lead with a home run, but Rodon handed it right back by giving up back-to-back home runs to Justin Upton and Miguel Cabrera in the top of the third inning. Cabrera's homer gave Detroit a 3-2 lead, and the Tigers led the rest of the way.

Detroit starter Buck Farmer (3-1) has a 6.17 ERA this season, but two of his three wins have come against the Sox. Farmer was nothing special in this game, allowing three earned runs over 5.2 innings, but he was better than Rodon. That was disappointing.

Aug. 27
White Sox 7, Tigers 1: Not so disappointing was the performance of rookie right-hander Lucas Giolito (1-1), who fired seven shutout innings to pick up his first major-league victory in the rubber match of the series.

Unlike his first start, Giolito had his four-pitch mix working. He was consistently ahead in counts and allowed only two hits through his first six innings. He struck out four and threw 72 of his 104 pitches for strikes.

His seventh and final inning was a tough one, but he managed to get out of a two-out jam that saw the Tigers load the bases. Jose Iglesias hit a ball down the left-field line that was initially ruled a grand slam. Replays showed the ball was clearly foul, and the call was reversed. After the loud strike one, Giolito induced Iglesias to ground out to shortstop, and that completed his seven-inning day.

The Sox have had a lot of success against Detroit lefty Matt Boyd (He's 0-4 vs. Chicago in his career), and they scored five runs off him in the bottom of the third inning Sunday. Matt Davidson's two-out, two-strike three-run homer turned a 2-0 lead into a 5-0 lead, and the Sox remained in control the rest of the way.

Sanchez went 3 for 4 and finished the series 6 for 12 with a home run, a double, two runs scored and four RBIs. 

The win finished up a 5-3 homestand for the South Siders. The Sox are 9-5 in their past 14 home games, so at least they are playing better before their fans at Guaranteed Rate Field. Their 2-8 road record this month stinks, but being able to compete and win at home is a step forward over what we were seeing for most of June and July.

Friday, August 25, 2017

White Sox place Yoan Moncada on 10-day disabled list

The White Sox won both Wednesday and Thursday night and ended up taking three of the five games against the Minnesota Twins this week, but Thursday's 5-1 victory came at a price.

Yoan Moncada has been placed on the 10-day disabled list after an MRI on Friday morning revealed a bone contusion in his right shin.

The rookie second baseman sat out two games last weekend against the Texas Rangers with shin splints, and he aggravated the nagging injury Thursday night while rounding third base on his way to scoring a run during a three-run rally in the fourth inning.

Moncada limped back to the dugout and played one more inning before exiting the game.

Third baseman Matt Davidson has been activated from the disabled list to take Moncada's spot on the roster. Davidson, who has 22 home runs this season, was hit by a pitch Aug. 1 and had been on the disabled list since Aug. 6 with a bruised right wrist.

He had played only one game on a rehab assignment to Triple-A Charlotte. I'm sure the Sox would have liked him to get a few more ABs down there before activating him, but the Moncada injury makes his presence in Chicago necessary.

It's good to have Davidson back in the lineup. I'm sure he'll play third base every day, and Yolmer Sanchez will move back to second base in Moncada's place.

Still, it stinks to have Moncada out. As the Sox (50-76) play out the string, Moncada's at-bats give us something to watch and talk about, but he'll be sidelined for at least the next 10 days and possibly longer.

Certainly, the Sox should exercise caution with Moncada. A lot is invested in him, and if they need to shut him down for the year, so be it. He's dealt with several injuries this season, and it's important that he be 100 percent healthy by the time the 2018 season rolls around.

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.