The Chicago White Sox knew that this was going to be the toughest part of their rebuild. This was also going to be the most crucial stage, as it was going to allow the front office to fully evaluate the players that were acquired. This was going to be many of the highly-touted prospects first full season in the majors. How are they doing?
As expected, the White Sox have one of the worst records in Major League Baseball. While that doesn’t always tell the full story, the White Sox are not exactly playing great baseball. They have turned it up a notch as of late, playing .500 ball over their last 20 games going into today. The issue has mostly been the pitching, as the young guns are experiencing some growing pains.
The starting rotation, which is led by James Shields, collectively as a staff has 11 wins. They’re led by Lucas Giolito who, despite having an ERA over 7.00, has four wins. Reynaldo Lopez has pitched incredibly well, but has taken on the role left by Jose Quintana. By that, despite having an ERA of 3.42, Lopez has a 1-4 record. Worse yet, his ERA is skewed significantly, thanks to a couple of poor starts against the Cleveland Indians and the Pittsburgh Pirates.
During those two starts, he threw 4.2 innings, but gave up 13 earned runs. Other than that, Lopez hasn’t given up more than two earned runs, outside of one other start in early May. In every other start, he’s averaged nearly seven innings.
Carson Fulmer was sent down to AAA after having poor start after poor start. The 2015 first round pick has had glimpses of why he was chosen with the 8th overall pick, but they have come few and far between. Carlos Rodon is just now making his way back after having surgery back last September, and is expected to make his first start this upcoming weekend against Boston.
However, the collective group has had one giant problem. They are walking way too many people. A rotation consisting of Shields, Lopez, Giolito, Hector Santiago and Dylan Covey have combined for 141 walks in 286.1 innings. That’s nearly one walk every other inning. Believe it or not, that is actually better than what they were doing towards the middle of May.
Giolito was having the most issues with this, but his last two starts have shown improvement, throwing two walks over a combined 12 innings. It’s expected that Santiago is going to go back to the hybrid bullpen/spot starter role once Rodon returns. Couple that with the reports that Michael Kopech is expected to be called up in July, and fans could get a glimpse of the future rotation.
On the hitting side, the improvements of Tim Anderson, Matt Davidson and Yoan Moncada have been evident. Jose Abreu has been his typical and consistent self, but Avasail Garcia has been on the disabled list since late April with a hamstring injury. Yolmer Sanchez has proven to be an everyday player, and thanks to his versatility, can play wherever manager Rick Renteria needs.
The improvements on Anderson and Davidson have come in their pitch selection, as last season the duo had 13 and 19 walks, respectively. This season, the numbers are up to 18 and 29! They both said that they wanted to improve their walks, and it’s been evident. Davidson had missed some time thanks to a disabled list visit, but he should get back to hitting like he was before hand.
Moncada has been touted as the next big superstar, thanks to his former number one overall prospect ranking, but he’s been a little slow on the jump. Despite that, he’s still 23-years-old, and he has cut down on his strikeouts. He’s still projected to be a top of the order threat, and he’s already shown glimpses of what he can be. It’s going to take a little time, and considering that this is his first full season in the majors, he’s going to be just fine.
Down in the minors, Eloy Jimenez, the key piece in the Quintana trade last season to the Chicago Cubs, has been tearing the cover off of the ball. In AA, he’s hitting .324 with 10 home runs and driven in 40 runs. The White Sox number one prospect is also extremely young (he turns 22 this November) and he’s projected to be a middle of the lineup force.
Fans have already clamored about calling him up, but the White Sox front office has already said they are not going to rush any of their top prospects until they are fully ready. Despite that, there are reports out that say Chicago will call Jimenez up in July, most likely around the same time as Kopech.
Either way, the rest of this season isn’t going to be pretty. The White Sox are going to compete for the number one overall draft pick in the 2019 draft, but after this season, it will be interesting to see how the front office chooses to approach free agency. There are plenty of marquee players that are going to be ready to sign contracts, and if the White Sox feel they are ready to compete in 2019, then they might make a run at it. Only time will tell.