White Sox top Mariners behind Giolito’s masterful performance

General Gio: A few hours after his first Twitch stream (with the username GeneralGio), Lucas Giolito pitched admirably in a win over the Mariners. (Sean Williams/South Side Hit Pen)

It was a pitcher’s duel at Guaranteed Rate field, as offense was hard to come by. The White Sox scored twice, and that was enough to secure a victory, as they beat the Mariners by a score of 2-1.

White Sox starting pitcher Lucas Giolito was terrific once again. The Mariners struggled to make contact, as Giolito racked up nine strikeouts in his six and two-thirds innings on the mound. The only hiccup came in the top of the third, when left fielder Mallex Smith hit a two-out home run of the solo variety. The home run was Smith’s second of the year, and it gave the Mariners a 1-0 lead.

On the other side, Mariners starter Marco Gonzales was nearly flawless in his first few innings. However, Gonzales ran into trouble in the fifth. After issuing a dreaded leadoff walk to Edwin Encarnacion, Danny Mendick doubled, and the White Sox had runners on second and third with no outs. Adam Engel cashed in on the RBI opportunity by slicing a single to score both baserunners, and the White Sox took a 2-1 lead. Despite this clutch hit, Engel is off to a slow start at the plate (.125/.152/.156). Hopefully, this will help him turn things around.

The Mariners could not put up a rally against Giolito, as their bats went quiet after Smith’s home run. Giolito’s final line was the following: six and two-thirds innings, three hits, one run (it was earned), one walk, and nine strikeouts. Giolito now has a 1.89 ERA, and he boasts 0.7 Baseball-Reference WAR through just three starts. Giolito is averaging 12.8 strikeouts per nine innings, his WHIP is 1.000, and he is allowing only 6.6 hits per nine innings.

The bullpen had no margin for error, as the White Sox could not add any insurance runs. However, relievers Evan Marshall and Aaron Bummer got the job done. Marshall retired all four batters he faced, striking out one of them. Bummer took over in the top of the ninth, and he worked around a single to pick up his third save of the season. Marshall has not allowed an earned run in five and one-third innings, and Bummer also has a perfect ERA, in three and one-third innings.

Now, for some updates on how players are performing in this simulation. First, we will start with the bad news. Eloy Jiménez has no extra base hits yet, slashing .238/.360/.238. Sure, he has drawn a lot of walks, so his OBP is high. But, the surprising lack of power to open the season results in him being worth -0.1 WAR. Yasmani Grandal has a similar story, as he is slashing .167/.302/.278. Like Jiménez, Grandal is drawing lots of walks (as expected), but he is otherwise not hitting well, resulting in 0.0 WAR. On the other hand, Danny Mendick is slashing .458/.480/.625 (0.5 WAR), so there is no need to rush Nick Madrigal to The Show. Yoán Moncada is also off to a hot start, slashing .333/.429/.571 (0.6 WAR).

After today’s victory, the White Sox’s record stands at 8-3, while the Mariners fell to 8-4. The White Sox will take on the Mariners again tomorrow, and they are seeking a sweep. If the White Sox manage to pull off the sweep, it would be their second in the young season.

We’ll wrap this up with some trivia related to the events of today’s simulation:

  1. The White Sox designated Carson Fulmer for assignment and placed him on irrevocable waivers. In 2015, the White Sox drafted Fulmer out of which school?
  2. This was Giolito’s third start of the year. Giolito has had at least eight strikeouts in all three games. How many pitchers in White Sox history have had a season with 15 or more games with at least eight strikeouts?

Answers

  1. Vanderbilt University.
  2. Two. Only Chris Sale (18 times in 2015) and Lucas Giolito (16 times in 2019) have done that.

SSHP Podcast 21: baseball bracketology

Pick to click: A Schoenfeld Cinderella for 2020? Reylo. (Chicago White Sox)


Baseball bracketologist Owen Schoenfeld hops on with Brett Ballantini to talk about his recent piece, breaking down the sleepers of the 2020 season, as well as the core pieces of the club. Additionally, there’s speculation on the length of the coming season and the status of the 2020 draft.

Damn straight, we’re on Apple Podcasts.


Baseball bracketology: 2020 White Sox’s Final Four, Cinderellas, Upsets, and Bubble Watch

 


Selection Sunday has now come and gone, with gone being the operative word, as the entire Men’s and Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournaments were outright canceled due to the global pandemic known as COVID-19.

Pair that with the fact that Major League Baseball’s Opening Day now has no definitive start date, with the initial two-week being delay usurped by the CDC’s recommendation to not conduct nationwide gatherings of more than 50 people for at least eight weeks. That would make the soonest that Opening Day could theoretically happen May 11.

My “bracket” is a little dubious on that date being a reality, but you never know. With all that said, with everyone self-quarantined, working from home, running to the stores with more raw speed than Adam Engel, and finding themselves with more free time than ever, we all could use a respite and also a way to fill the void.

From where I sit behind my keyboard, there’s no better way to do that than fill the vacuum of both no baseball and no March Madness with one composite article.

This clocks in at just more than 4,500 words, but we all have some free time on our hands and we have an itch for White Sox baseball, March Madness, and sports in general. And if not sports, then even text on a screen about sports. So this is broken into sections. Read it in full, or parse it out, consume it in bits, and wash your hands for 20 seconds with hot water for each hot take in-between sections (especially after the Upset section, as you may need to cleanse). We don’t have sports, but we have the game of words and through that we can have some strange version of White Sox March Madness –– in a real world that currently doesn’t have either.

With that said, I’m going to lay out my picks for the Chicago White Sox’s Final Four –– a core of players that will be the most valuable in 2020 –– who may surprise (Cinderellas) or underperform (Upsets), projected regression that may not happen, (think the annual trendy expert upset pick), and outline which prospects will see the big lights this season (“on the bubble”).


I tried my hand at a similar piece over at another publication back in 2016. Like any bracket, I had my share of red (losses), but also some notable prognostications in the green (wins) as well.

My Final Four consisted of Chris Sale, José Abreu, Todd Frazier and Jose Quintana.

Sale made it to the final weekend, turning in an 3.34 ERA All-Star season and setting career highs in wins (17) and innings pitched (226 ⅔) that may have been driven by his league-leading six complete games. He’d ultimately finish fifth in Cy Young voting and notch MVP votes despite being on a non-playoff team. 

Abreu got bounced after the Sweet 16. He had a decent enough year, but it took a potent second half to bounce back from a fairly dreadful first two months to salvage his season. He failed to hit the 30-home run mark or make the All-Star team but still ripped 100 RBIs for his fourth straight season and finished with a respectable .820 OPS.

Frazier didn’t make it out of the Sweet 16, either. He made a lot of shots –– 40 home runs, to be exact –– but overall did not live up to expectations or his seed line. His final line was .225/.302/.464, with clear shortfalls in average and OBP. He was worth 2.8 fWAR, which fell short of a projected four-win season.

Quintana, my outside Final Four pick, delivered in earnest. He joined Chris Sale at the All-Star game, put together a 3.20 ERA over 200-plus innings, got a 10th place Cy Young vote and had what to date has been the best season of his career.

I also identified two Cinderellas: Adam Eaton and Carlos Rodón.

Eaton surely did not disappoint. He actually edged Sale and led the 2016 White Sox in fWAR with a 5.9 mark. He got on base at a .362 clip, swiped 14 bags, but most importantly flashed an absurd glove after a position shift to right field –– propped up by an arm that could hit triple-digits on release and nail runners like clockwork. He also led the AL in triples and garnered a 19th-place MVP vote at years end.

Rodón didn’t quite have a “breakout” year, but he did have what unfortunately remains the best season of his White Sox career thus far by racketing up 168 innings over 28 starts while posting playable numbers in a 4.04 ERA and 9.2 K/9 in what was really his first big-league season as a full-time starter.

For upsets, I thought Adam LaRoche would be downed by a back injury. It turns out he got “upset” by something entirely different: His 14 year-old son Drake LaRoche not being allowed in the clubhouse. This set off what was quite truly an international firestorm when he retired over the matter, and it oddly sparked a broader discussion about the place of children in the workplace. You can’t make this stuff up, and no my bracket did not have the details –– only that he’d have an early exit.

I had Jacob Turner upsetting John Danks for a rotation spot, predicting that the White Sox would actually eat Danks’ contract midseason in the midst of contention, a bold call considering the conventional Jerry Reinsdorf behavior. I was dead wrong about Turner, who was absolutely atrocious during just two starts and 24 ⅔ innings pitched in a starter/bullpen hybrid role. Turn down the backlight on your screen so as not to burn your eyes when you read about his 6.57 ERA, near 2.000 WHIP, and a 5.8 BB/9 to just 6.6 K/9. Chicago did release and eat the rest of Danks’ $15.75 million salary in May, so this pick was mixed.

My two players on the bubble, Tim Anderson and Carson Fulmer, both made it to the majors, so there’s that.

Now that I’ve proven at least a modicum of credibility in my baseball bracketology, here’s a similar exercise for 2020. It is going to be semi-challenging given the uncertainty of baseball this season and how disrupted conditioning and a late and shortened season may impact performance and sample sizes, but here goes.


Final Four

C Yasmani Grandal

This was a move White Sox fans have been waiting for ever since A.J. Pierzynski was forced out of town only to be supplanted by the polarizing Tyler Flowers. Not only was the four-year, $73 million dollar Grandal deal the largest free agent outlay in White Sox history, but the backstop has been an absolute turnstile for essentially the last four seasons. There’s not better way I can demonstrate how much of an upgrade Grandal will be than this:

That 5.2 fWAR made Grandal the second-most valuable catcher in the majors last year and would have also made him the second-most valuable player in Chicago by that same metric. He posted an absurd 17.2% walk rate, per FanGraphs, which helped him achieve a .380 OBP.

Pair that with a career-high 28 home runs and a glove that gets rave reviews from both the pitch-framing eye test and advanced metrics, to say nothing of his ability to be a beacon for a staff, and Grandal looks like he’ll be a linchpin for the White Sox and deliver a massive season. If we weren’t looking at a truncated year, I’d say 25-30 home runs would be in the cards.

Either way, Grandal will provide pop and on-base percentage from both sides of the plate and be the perfect steward for Chicago’s rotation. He’s what we’d call a blue-blood No.1 seed –– a lock –– and your best bet to reach Chicago’s Final Four from a composite value perspective.

LF Eloy Jiménez

Jiménez had his first taste of big-league action from the jump last season after signing a winter extension. He ended up missing some time with a pair of IL stints, one for a right ankle sprain and another one for sustaining a nerve contusion in his arm during an outfield collision.

Through 122 games, Jiménez still managed to break the 30-home run mark with 31 bombs, and some of them were truly tape-measure shots. There was a little swing-and-miss to his game (26.6% K-rate) but he slashed .267/.315/.513 on the whole with a .246 ISO.

Jiménez is like that upstart program that is suddenly elevated with a slew of top recruits but is felled by injuries and exits earlier than expected. Not in 2020. The roster of prolific batting tools will be coming back, so to speak, and with an expectation of health.

Jiménez barely tapped into the value of Guaranteed Rate Field as a hitter’s park last season (.748 home OPS compared to an .892 away) which is an aberration that is unlikely to be in play again. His torrid pace to end the season (.340/.383/.710 slash line with nine home runs in September) could very well be a prelude of what’s to come. Eloy will simply mash in 2020.

SS Tim Anderson 

Anderson had a breakout campaign last season in a full-fledged attempt to #changethegame You could call it akin to mid-major that ends up leaving a lot of red in its wake and rubs teams and their fans the wrong way in its run to the Final Four; but at the same time also exhilarates a whole new brand of play and ends the tourney with much more name recognition. Anderson invented the “Javelin Bat Flip,” after all.

In 2020, he’ll make good on last year’s run and be a favorite to repeat the performance. Anderson got his title game of sorts last season by leading all of baseball with a .335 batting average. That hardware came with 32 doubles and 18 home runs in just 123 games, as the shortstop battled an ankle sprain.

Had he not missed the time, he likely would have produced his second consecutive 20/20 season. Anderson ended up being worth 3.5 fWAR last year despite the injury bug and the fact that he was actually negative on the other side of the game, committing a league leading 26 errors –– many of the throwing variety.

Expect the Chicago shortstop to clean that up this season as defense has been mentioned publicly as a priority for him, and no one on the club has a more tenacious work ethic. People looking for an upset might point to the fact Anderson walked at just a 2.9% clip and posted an unsustainable .399 BABIP.

But Anderson has proven that he’s going to play his game, from the javelin bat flips to his aggressive approach at the plate. Net-net, his game plays up due to plus raw speed, plus plate coverage, and the fact that he hits the ball to all fields with minimal infield fly outs –– all ingredients that will aid in his maintaining at least an above-average BABIP.

Regression there could be offset by someone who hasn’t even turned 27 yet and likely still has more playable power in his game. Once again, if this were a full season, a 25/25 year could have been on the table, with an outside shot at a 30/30 year if he really broke out.

Given Moncada’s in-game speed has not played as much in the way of base stealing, Anderson along with Robert could be Chicago’s best shot at a 30/30 player. The shortened season makes it much more unlikely, but expect Anderson to be a star nonetheless and both cut down the errors and the nets as his visibility as a face of the game becomes even more high-profile.

3B Yoán Moncada

Moncada was like Anderson last season in the sense that he was more of a No. 3-to-4 seed that made his way to the final weekend. Imagine a very talented team that doesn’t see things click as a group until their junior season.

That’s what happened for Moncada last year as he slashed .315/.367/.548 en route to a team-leading 5.7 fWAR, in part thanks to a glove that played up at third base as opposed to the keystone. He cut his strikeout rate from an abysmal 33.4% in 2018 to a very playable 27.5% in 2019.

Moncada smashed 25 home runs, 34 doubles, and five triples despite missing a chunk of time with a hamstring strain. There are some regression worries due to a high BABIP, which will be addressed later, but there’s more ceiling for Moncada in 2020 — and that should be a scary thought for opponents.

He showed a solid walk rate during his pro ball days in the minors and in his 2017 debut (12.6 %) which fell to just 7.2% in 2020. With excellent plate discipline, there’s certainly reason to believe that number reverts a little closer to above-average range or at least the double-digits, which will raise his OBP. Meanwhile, the 24-year-old will likely continue to show even more in-game power, as he can certainly hit moonshots and the long ball should come with more regularity.

Finally, someone with 70-grade speed should quite frankly be swiping more bags. Moncada made just 13 attempts last year despite a 76% success rate. Moncada should be swiping 20 bags with ease in a full season and possibly even in a shortened season.

So tapping into more in-game power, more playable speed, and just natural growth for the White Sox’s most tool-ridden and physical specimen outside of Robert, Moncada will have more than “One Shining Moment” in 2020 and potentially make an MVP bid. He is the odds-on No. 1 seed for 2020.

Cinderellas

SP Reynaldo López

López makes for a very interesting cinderella pick as he could very well “bust” some brackets in 2020, especially brackets that are labeling him a “bust.” Will 2020 truly be the year of “hindsight is 2020” for these fans and pundits alike? Here are a few reasons why the slipper, or rather cleat, may fit for López.

He absolutely has the former prospect pedigree. Coming up with the Nationals, some evaluators painted López as even more of a star than his often more-touted teammate Lucas Giolito. That seemed to prove true as he flashed nastier stuff than a struggling Giolito and ended 2018 –– his first full season as a big league starter –– on a high note.

Rather than López carrying that over into 2019 for a breakout, it was instead Giolito who had a surge, and López ended up being an unmitigated disaster –– “good” for a 5.38 ERA over 33 starts and an unforgiving FIP of 5.04 that wasn’t noticeably better.

López quite frankly was all over the plate, even showing lack of concentration at times. His HR/9 clocked in at 1.71, which is eye-popping bad, while he also walked more than three batters per nine innings. There wasn’t obvious bad luck either, as he had a pretty in-line .316 BABIP against and a 69.2% strand rate.

So what could possibly be the positives? Well the raw stuff is certainly still there. López’s fastball velocity still runs up regularly over 95 mph while his curveball can still look sharp at times. His K/9 was actually a full batter improvement from 2018, settling at 8.27 per nine, and despite his struggles he’s been durable with two consecutive seasons of more than 180 innings pitched and such durability has led to two straight two-WAR seasons as well. So it’s not all entirely bad.

Sometimes these things just take time. Grandal has already been reported to have a positive effect on López, apparently identifying some ways López can leverage his off-speed stuff better; this being one of the paramount reasons Grandal was a good add.

We’ll see if it carries over into the season, but for López the stuff is there and so is the durability. Now it’s all about that elusive control and command, which if realized, could give the White Sox a very solid power righty. If not, maybe he’s a two-pitch pitcher who plays up in the pen. The 2020 season will be a litmus test, but one worth giving for sure.

OF Adam Engel

Engel has been a trendy Cinderella for years. When you get body and tool comps to Mike Trout, that tends to happen. These types of comps are always unfair, but not unusual this time of year when a team is regarded as “the Butler, VCU, or Davidson of year X.”

I don’t think Engel will be a Cinderella in the traditional sense, where he parlays his myriad of tools, build, and athleticism into some huge Elite Eight run as a double-digit seed, but he can be a Cinderella in the sense that he carves out a niche on this roster.

The glove has always been playable — more than playable actually; in fact, plus. He’s the perfect roving outfielder to come in as a late defensive replacement or pinch-runner where his plus speed can play up late in a game during a crucial moment.

It’s not worth getting into the annual narrative of mechanical adjustments and swing changes, but the fact remains that Engel can fill a role in 2020 and be of value. It was a small sample, but Engel hit .313/.360/.482 versus LHP in 2019 and he’s always been better against southpaws in his career. Not as flashy as that line, more like a .679 OPS type, but still –– better.

Given Nomar Mazara will be manning right field, Engel could be a serviceable platoon partner for him and generate additional value defensively and on the basepaths, with some occasional pop here and there.

Once he’s no longer overexposed in a starting role, Engel may go from a liability to a competent utility piece, and that would certainly be a Cinderella story for someone who otherwise would be on the fringe of being out of the game entirely. Maybe 2020, is Adam Engel’s Sweet 16 –– where he was once regarded as an intriguing prospect.

Upsets

Upsets: you love them and you hate them, depending on your bracket and allegiance of course, but they always happen. In this context, upsets are always negative –– well, mostly. You’ll see a few qualifiers. Upset will be ranked as most likely to happen to least likely as described by traditional NCAA Tourney seed vernacular. A 16-over-1 is historically unlikely while a 10-over-7 is a relatively safe bet and really anything 12-over-5 and less isn’t mind-blowing, at least to those who dig into the numbers.

Roster Spot Crunch (10) over Zack Collins (7)

With the signing of Grandal, the White Sox now have not one but two All-Star catchers on their roster when you factor in holdover James McCann. The fact that Abreu is still manning first base, Grandal can also play that corner infield spot, and the additional fact that Edwin Encarnación was signed with the explicit intent of full-time DH duties, the roster composition is not looking kind to Collins, a former Top 10 draft pick back in 2016 who has hit for power and OBP in the minors but whose profile has been dampened by a poor hit tool and subpar defensive outlook as a backstop. The shortened season means even less chance for opportunity, as a limited schedule may not be as taxing for players. Factor in that with the logic of getting Collins regular ABs at Charlotte, and he does not look to get a lot of time under the bright lights in 2020.

Bullpen Role (11) over (6) Carlos Rodón

This would be an upset in the sense that Rodón was not taken with the No. 3 overall pick out of N.C. State back in the 2014 draft to be used as a bullpen piece. He was drafted to be a front-end starter. But Rodón has been a disappointment no matter how you frame it. Save for a 2016 season in which he made 28 starts to compile 165 innings of respectable 4.04 ERA ball with a 9.2 K/9 as a 23 year-old, it’s all been a massive slide from there.

You can blame injuries, underperformance, or a combination of the two, but Rodón has just not gotten it done from the mound. After those 165 innings in 2016, he’s thrown just 224 ⅔ combined in the three years since with a 4.33 ERA, 4.66 FIP, and 4.1 BB/9 over that span.

Now coming off Tommy John Surgery and with a shortened season ahead and a crowded rotation, it makes loads of sense to take Rodón’s fastball and slider, which have looked like a deadly combo in the past, and see how they play in the bullpen.

A lefty coming out of the pen with nasty stuff could be just the trick for Rodón. It would be less taxing on his arm and possibly lead to actual, tangible value. Chicago has just one year of control on the pitcher after 2020; they might as well get something out of him.

As a Scott Boras client, Rodón seems like a change of scenery guy when he hits free agency. Rodón and Boras may be “upset” by this upset, but White Sox fans may be pleasantly surprised. And if he does turn into Chicago’s version of Andrew Miller –– a modern-day, two- or three-inning bullpen slicer with explosive stuff –– then he may have an even better chance at a payday.

Win-Win.

Shortened Season (13) over Luis Robert (4)

Robert is dripping with talent. If well-rounded prospects are tool sheds, then he’s five top-of-the-line toolboxes inside of a tool shed. Robert may be the best player of the whole critical mass when all is said and done.

He has the bat, mammoth power, leopard speed, and platinum glove. But Robert also has zero big league experience and despite video game numbers in Charlotte, the hit tool is still a bit raw. It is quite possible there will be a lag, a period of adjustment.

The 2020 season had a good chance to shake out as a coming-out party for Robert with real Rookie of the Year potential, but a shortened season won’t help in masking early struggles. If those make up a disproportionate portion of the 2020 campaign, then Robert’s road to true stardom may have to wait until 2021.

COVID-19 (15) over Major League Baseball (2)

There’s something that’s been eating at my mind, and that’s the possibility that baseball doesn’t happen at all. With every waking day, the value of social distancing and flattening the curve with COVID-19 rises even more to the forefront. And with it usually comes new CDC recommendations on limiting crowds to smaller numbers and for longer periods.

Speculation is abound and there’s been some lines of thinking that baseball may not start until midsummer and that even if it does, it may have to occur without fans or with limited attendance. The systems to properly screen and re-integrate into society may simply not be in place.

There’s also conjecture that if baseball were to be canceled entirely by the league due to a “national emergency,” the MLBPA may not be able to stave off contracts being invalidated. That’s a win on overhead for the owners.

Sure, there’s boatloads of money on the table to be lost. Out of sight, out of mind is at play, too. But at some point –– especially if a decent chunk of games would have to be played with no fans –– then the ROI, not the revenue, but the actual income over fixed operating costs may be very minimal — or worse, projected to be negative.

If that’s what the tea leaves start to say, then there is at least a chance the owners lobby with Major League Baseball to pull the plug on the 2020 season entirely. This would be an upset for the ages, but it’s not one to write off entirely.

The Trendy Upset That Won’t Happen

BABIP (12) over Yoán Moncada (5)

Every year there is one team that all the pundits pick to shock the world, and the shock is that it doesn’t happen. In recent years, think any South Dakota State team with Mike Daum on it, or a New Mexico St. team that could always crash the boards but instead crashed dreams of bracket perfection instead (Thanks Aggies!)

The trendy upset pick this year in the baseball world is that the league leader in BABIP, Moncada, will see massive regression and that this said underlying number was a key driver of his breakout season.

Moncada had a .406 BABIP last year, up from a .344 BABIP the year prior. That screams regression, until you look at the fact that Moncada also lowered his infield fly ball rate, raised his hard contact rate, and increased his line drive rate. Those are all immediate explanations for why he had a higher BABIP, and again, his baseline in a down year was .344.

Want to dive deeper into the stats? He increased his exit velocity between 2018 and 2019 from 90.6 to 92.8 (seventh in baseball) and his barrel % from 9.6 to 12.2, per Baseball Savant. That barrel % is nearly twice the league average of 6.3.

Moncada also brings other drivers that can make a BABIP more sustainable, like hitting to all fields, possessing raw speed to leg out infield hits, and the fact that he actually is hitting the ball out of the park way more than before. You don’t have to worry too much about your BABIP when your ball isn’t in play as often, and it’s less in play for the good reasons like home runs and walks, not the bad one: strikeouts.

Another interesting note: speaking of those infield hits, Moncada had an 8.9% rate in 2018 and only a 4.6% in 2019, so he may actually leg out more infield hits in 2020, making the sustainability of a higher BABIP all the more buyable.

The bottom line is this –– even if Moncada’s BABIP recedes, his overall ceiling may not. The best is yet to come and over-inflating one statistic that isn’t as alarming as it seems will do a disservice to your baseball bracket. Avoid this trendy upset pick.

On the Bubble

2B Nick Madrigal (IN)

Madrigal was likely going to be here by mid-April at the latest. The high-IQ player who simply does not strike out is an easy at-large bid despite the small stature. Service time considerations and how they will apply to a shortened 2020 are still up in the air, but it won’t matter with Madrigal. The mature rookie with the slick glove will be manning second at some point.

1B Andrew Vaughn (OUT)

Vaughn has impressed mightily in his initial taste of pro ball. He is an extremely polished college bat who may be the best pure hitter in the whole organization. He truly could be a 60 hit/60 power guy which could shake out to a perennial near-.300 average and consistent 30-bomb player. But the shortened season will make a September (November?) call-up unlikely even if Chicago is in contention. He just won’t have enough requisite ABs in the minors to make the jump.

SP Dane Dunning (OUT)

The crowded rotation already put Dunning in a dangerous position on the bubble, and that’s without even referencing that he’ll be coming back from Tommy John surgery. He’ll need more than just a tuneup in the minors before seeing the big leagues. He may find his way in if there are injuries, or the season actually starts in May rather than July, but if not, Dunning will have to wait until 2021 to hear his name called.

SP Michael Kopech (IN)

You could actually say Kopech is in a somewhat similar boat as Dunning given the developing circumstances, but he’s had his time in the minors –– and a short stint in the bigs –– so it’s more about purely rehabbing. While we’ll see less of Kopech in 2020 than we would have without COVID-19, we will see Kopech –– or the lightning power arm I like to call “Zeus” –– in 2020 at some point. If not, it will be a major snub.


I hope this fulfilled the gaping black hole that’s a result of the lack of sports during what is an unprecedented global crisis. From me to you the reader, stay safe, stay healthy, and remember: There are sunnier days ahead. Days where the sun will be beaming down on ballplayers.

Patience is a virtue, and hope is currently our best medicine.

 

SSHP Podcast 18: Chuck Garfien

(Laura Wolff/Charlotte Knights)


Chuck Garfien joins Clinton Cole to talk White Sox spring training baseball and everyone’s favorite player, Yermín Mercedes. The pair also cover other bright spots of camp so far, including Nicky Delmonico, Andrew Vaughn and Adam Engel — and celebrate the fact that there’s an actual battle for the final active roster spot this season!

 

Hey, we’re on Apple Podcasts too!

Sox fall to A’s, 6-5 but Delmonico stays hot

Busy day: López found himself pitching through traffic, but all in all a nice debut. (Clinton Cole/South Side Hit Pen)


Mr. Captain, Tim Anderson, had a little fun going into the game this afternoon just to remind everyone that the White Sox are playing a game in Iowa later this season.

All that farming earned Anderson a day off today, and among regulars, he wasn’t alone. The starting lineup was a mesh of everything. Reynaldo López was on the bump to start, with Luis Robert and Edwin Encarnación as the only other everyday starters in the lineup. Danny Mendick, Zack Collins, and Adam Engel all appear to be bench bats, though any could be pushed back to Charlotte. Nick Madrigal could push Mendick back to Charlotte, but odds are he won’t due to service time. Gavin Sheets, Nicky Delmonico, and Cheslor Cuthbert rounded out the depth, as well as the lineup.

However, maybe Delmonico heard us just call him depth, and that pushed him to continue his spring hot streak.

Delmonico hit his first homer of his spring, a couple batters after Luis Robert singled up the middle on the first pitch of the game. Robert would also steal second a couple of pitches later.

On the pitching side was López, a guy who needs to show improvement very quickly this season. It seems like today was a “work on the breaking ball and hope it goes well” type of day. It seemed like the curve was López’s breaking pitch of choice, but honestly without the straight-on camera for webcasts, it could have just been a loopier slider. Whatever the case, López’s results were no different from any other year. His breaking pitch was in the dirt a lot of the time, but it also got some outs and bad contact, including a decent number of grounders, which López needs. His control just was not there, and who can blame a guy for not having command of breaking balls in his first spring training start.

López finished his day with a lot of threes: three innings, Ks and hits, and one run.

Delmonico singled n his second at-bat to push his spring batting average past .400. Maybe the Sox didn’t need to trade for Nomar Mazara after all? Encarnación, Sheets, and Mendick all failed to reach base. Encarnación actually has not collected a hit yet in any of the fake games. Collins continues to get walks and in this game actually had a single — but he still has more walks (six) than hits (two).

Madrigal and Engel were the ones having the most fun after the first inning, at least from a batter’s perspective. Engel went 2-for-2 and scored a run off of a bloop Madrigal single. Madrigal still hasn’t showed anything besides the uncanny ability to hit singles, which is the biggest knock against him.

Meanwhile, the relievers did not provide any relief. Adalberto Mejía, who was doing fine so far this spring, hit a wall. He was only able to get one out and left the game with the bases loaded. Carson Fulmer was on the mound when two earned runs were charged to Mejia off of a jam to center. Fulmer did not have his best stuff today overall in his 1 ⅔ innings. Evan Marshall, on the other hand, did look good. He breezed by an inning of work and left the game for potential future closer Tyler Johnson.

Unfortunately for Johnson, White Sox legend Ryan Goins had his number. With a couple runners on base, Goins grabbed a couple of RBIs with a single to right field; Johnson was lifted shortly after. So, overall, the pitching was not great today. But it’s March 3, and everybody is working on particular things.

Among the replacement hitters, a few guys were ready to take over; in particular, Andrew Vaughn.

It was not a great route by the right fielder, but Vaughn is hitting .417 now after the double to the opposite field. Even if his spring is a huge success, the odds of Vaughn breaking with the team are zero, but maybe a strong spring leads to a start in Birmingham and a path to MLB by season’s end — or at least a 2019 Robert-like advancement schedule. Whatever happens, Vaughn can hit. Although he made the game interesting, the White Sox could not finish a spring comeback, as the A’s shut the door in the ninth.

The White Sox visit the Brewers tomorrow at 2:05 CT. Joltin’ Joe Resis has your SSHP coverage.

 

Late rally falls short as White Sox lose, 7-6

Hot start: Adam Engel hit a three-run homer in today’s loss, boosting his way-too-early spring OPS to 1.140. (Sean Williams/South Side Hit Pen)


It was a nice start — but an ugly finish.

After a scoreless first inning, the White Sox jumped out to an early lead thanks to an explosive two-out rally in the second. Jaycob Brugman led off that inning with a single and advanced to third on a pair of ground outs. Some timely hitting by Austin Romine put the White Sox on the board, as his single drove Brugman home. After Romine’s two-out RBI, Luis Basabe drew a walk to put runners on first and second. Then, Adam Engel (him of all people?) launched a three-run shot to cap off a four-run inning.

Considering Engel’s performance last September (.263/.317/.461, 106 wRC+) and this spring, Rick Hahn may have had a semi-reasonable (if you really squint) excuse for manipulating Luis Robert’s service time. Too bad you gave Robert that extension, Rick, but we’re glad you did.

Mainly thanks to starter Matt Tomshaw’s two scoreless innings, the score remained 4-0 until the bottom of the fourth. That was when Carson Fulmer allowed a solo homer to Bubba Starling. Fulmer pitched two innings and allowed one run on three hits, issuing zero walks and striking out one. In the third, he pitched around back-to-back singles to open up the inning to keep the Royals scoreless.

The White Sox maintained their 4-1 lead until the sixth, when a disastrous inning turned this game around. An RBI double by Ryan McBroom trimmed the Royals deficit to two, and a walk by Bubba Starling put the tying run on base with no outs. Zach Thompson replaced José Ruiz on the mound, and it appeared Thompson would strand the Royals baserunners after retiring the first two he faced. However, the next three Thompson faced reached base safely. An RBI single by Erick Mejia made the score 4-3, and after a walk, the bases were loaded. Kyle Isbel singled to put the Royals ahead, and due to an error by Basabe, all three Royals scored. By the end of the inning, the Royals led, 6-4.

In the seventh, two notable prospects were responsible for getting one of those runs back. Unanimous top 100 prospect Nick Madrigal led off with a single, and he promptly advanced to second on an error on a pickoff attempt. Basabe made up for his error by driving in Madrigal with a single to right.

Right-hander Bryan Mitchell allowed the Royals to get that insurance run back in the bottom half of the seventh. Mitchell retired the first two he faced that inning, but a double by Starling (yep, him again) and a single by Emmanuel Rivera gave the Royals a 7-5 lead.

In the eighth, Royals reliever Kyle Greene opened the door for a potential rally, as he walked Gavin Sheets, Zack Collins, and Carlos Perez to load the bases. With one out, Laz Rivera drove in a run with a groundout, but that was the only run the White Sox mustered that inning. As a result, the White Sox entered the ninth trailing 7-6. They had a scoring threat, as a single by Ramon Torres put runners on the corners with one out. However, the White Sox could not finish the deal, as Sheets struck out, and Collins grounded out to end the game.

The loss drops the White Sox’s spring record to 2-2. The White Sox will face the Mariners tomorrow at Camelback Ranch. That matchup will start at 2:05 CST, and Ross Detwiler will take the mound against Ljay Newsome.

Spring training’s in full swing with split-squad games — and the White Sox split them

Predicting the future: The two games today seemed to be an indication of what the major league and Triple-A lineups could look like. (@WhiteSox)


Cleveland Indians 10, Charlotte White Sox 2

Luis Basabe: 1-for-3, 0 BB, 1 K
Danny Mendick: 1-for-3, 0 BB, 0 K
Zack Collins: 0-for-2, 1 BB, 0 K
Gavin Sheets: 1-for-2, 1 R, 1 BB, 0 K
Andrew Vaughn: 0-for-1, 0 BB, 0 K
Micker Adolfo: 0-for-1, 1 BB, 1 K
Yermín Mercedes: 0-for-1, 1 BB, 1 K
Luis González: 0-for-3 0 BB, 0 K
Bernardo Flores Jr.: 1 IP, 3 R, 0 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 0 K

If you needed any more proof that this was the Triple-A team (well, besides the lineup), all you had to do was check in on the first inning. Cheslor Cuthbert, a utility infielder who may see some time in Chicago, committed two fielding errors at third base. Those led to three unearned runs for Bernardo Flores Jr., who was out of the game shortly after those two errors. At least the talent difference between Charlotte and White Sox players is growing at this point in the rebuild.

This game was only on radio so there is no video, so just play along in your head. Though the Triple-A team was on display for the White Sox, Cleveland had their star guys out there and seemed to almost have the everyday MLB lineup out there to start the game. On the pitching side, only the first two innings saw majors-level pitching, though, as Shane Bieber and Brad Hand are two of Cleveland’s best.

Unsurprisingly, they recorded outs on six of the seven batters they faced. On the plus side, it was Gavin Sheets who was able to force a walk from Hand; Sheets is a lefty, so a walk off of Hand is pretty impressive. It would not get much better for the Sox, though some fun names did appear, so let’s focus on that because nobody could actually see the game.

From the starting lineup, AAAA players shined: Danny Mendick, Zack Collins, Luis Basabe, Micker Adolfo, and Yermín Mercedes, all of whom are on the 40-man roster, started today. So, this is the lineup of players that need to do the best this spring to make the team. Mendick and Collins are probably the closest to the majors, but it might be significant that Madrigal was back at Camelback Ranch in the other game featuring more of the eventual 26-man roster. Each of those five  players reached base at least once over the course of the game.

The next step below are upper-minor league mainstays. Sheets and Luis González should be in Charlotte to start the year. After the walk, Sheets singled, then scored later on in the game, while González went 0-for-3. Three other guys appeared in the game, though they did not get an at-bat: Andrew Vaughn, Blake Rutherford, and Laz Rivera.

To round out some names for the prospect buffs, Lency Delgado and Lenyn Sosa, both just 20 years old, also appeared at Goodyear Ballpark, though they too did not bat.

The pitching, well, was not pretty overall, but also had a big variety of MiLB levels on display. Flores Jr., Caleb Frare, and Kodi Mederios seem destined for Charlotte, which will give the Knights a pretty good lefty trio. Flores Jr. and Frare did not do well, at all, as both saw three runs cross the plate.

Again, for the prospect buffs, Vince Arobio (who had a breakout season from the bullpen in 2019) and Kade McClure made appearances. Arobio did allow a run, and McClure came in for two batters. It was their first appearances in a competitive (I guess it’s relative) game this spring. It’s early, guys, but at least the White Sox picked the right game to put on TV.


Chicago White Sox 4, San Francisco Giants 3

Tim Anderson: 1-for-3, 0 BB, 0 K
Yoán Moncada: 0-for-2, 1 BB, 0 K
José Abreu: 1-for-3, 1 R, 0 BB, 0 K
Edwin Encarnación: 0-for-3, 0 BB, 1 K
Eloy Jiménez: 1-for-2, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 0 K
Nomar Mazara: 0 -for-3, 0 BB, 0 K
Luis Robert: 1-for-3, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 K
James McCann: 0-for-2, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K
Leury García: 0-for-2, 0 BB, 1 K
Nick Madrigal: 0-for-1, 0 BB, 0 K
Kelvin Herrera: 1 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 0 BB, 1 K
Steve Cishek: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K
Aaron Bummer: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
Jimmy Cordero: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
Zack Burdi: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K

Before we get started on this game, look who made it on the field… for the other team.

While one Gold Glover is gone from the team, will there be a new one from the outfield?

Yeah, that is Eloy Jiménez doing things in the outfield, and guess what, he didn’t hurt himself! All around, that was a pretty good play, but then again he set a low bar in the outfield last year. Jiménez also worked the opposing pitcher to a full count and walked. In his next at-bat, he took advantage of a Giants error and drove in a run with a single roped up the middle. All in all, a nice February appearance from Eloy, but we can’t draw any conclusions … yet.

On the other end of the spectrum, Luis Robert showed his youth and inexperience early. He struggled with some little things, but what else is spring training for than to be extremely critical about little things? In the bottom of the second, Robert rolled over on a pitch away instead of trying to go the other way with it or just laying off. In the next inning, as Kelvin Herrera had a hard go of things (three runs allowed), Robert took a bad route to a ball in the gap and seemingly allowed an extra man to score. Robert also ended his day with a bad at-bat with a swinging strike on a breaking ball low and away. These are just little things, but they will mean more if they continue into the summer, when the impatient fans might start criticizing over Robert in his rookie season.

On the other hand, if Robert just does this all the time it won’t matter.

(do not slide head first in February, please!)

or this:

The winners of the day for the White Sox came from the bullpen, though the team win would come later. First and foremost, Zack Burdi pitched and looked like a typical pitcher coming back for the first time. He got hit hard, battled back from a 3-0 count, and it all ended with for a 1-2-3 inning. Now, say what you will about the reliability of velocity from spring training, but that velocity looks fine. It is February, so hopefully that fastball gets up into the upper 90s regularly.

Meanwhile, Aaron Bummer (and his new money) and Jimmy Cordero looked like they were ready for the regular season. They combined for five strikeouts in two perfect innings, and both look like mainstays in the bullpen for 2020. In fact, Bummer could see himself become the closer if Alex Colomé falters this year. Both Bummer and Cordero kept the Giants lead at one run while the Sox tried to avoid the loss or a second straight tie.

In the ninth inning, two players trying to make the team delivered in the clutch. First, Adam Engel doubled to right field to tie the game. Though it would have been fun to tie, again, Seby Zavala put that story to an end. He shot one back up the middle to center field and Engel sprinted and dove home, in February … to win this critical preseason game. Did somebody else dump Gatorade on themselves?

Welcome to the La Pantera party!

It’s go time: Luis Robert arrived at Camelback Ranch today, ready to get his 2020 season started. (Sean Williams/South Side Hit Pen)


We are one day away from position players officially having to report to spring training. Luckily for the White Sox, most  are already in Arizona, and have been for a few weeks, and the team is just waiting on a few more guys before they have the full squad together.

Today, Luis Robert arrived at Camelback Ranch, and White Sox fans got a first look at their Opening Day center fielder.

If you follow Robert on social media, you know he’s put in a ton of work this offseason. It seemed like he was not familiar with a day off, as he was constantly posting workout or BP videos. This afternoon, Robert took batting practice, and then shagged fly balls in center field while other players were hitting. He looked like a guy who came prepared, and with the way he was swinging the bat you would’ve thought that this was not his first official workout and that he has been at spring training for a month already.

In center field this afternoon, Robert was equally as impressive as he was in the batter’s box. He was not taking it easy on his first day, going full speed in the outfield and covering a lot of ground to make a hard play look routine. After he was done in the field, Robert practiced foot first slides (please continue to do that and protect that thumb, Luis!) before he called it a day.

Robert probably was the most impressive player on the field today, which is easy for him because he is blessed with all those tools and has the body of a Greek god. Even on his “bad” days, Robert can still look better than the average player.


Yasmani Grandal has been around Camelback Ranch for a while, but he’s strictly been working with pitchers and hasn’t done much hitting due to a mild calf strain that will keep him out of the first week of games. Today we got to see him take batting practice, and he got all of his work in from the right side of the plate. As a veteran, you would expect Grandal to be more prepared than some of the other guys (even factoring in his injury), but he still managed to impress. Grandal drove the ball consistently, with easy power. Obviously Grandal’s defense and ability to make pitchers better will make him well worth the money that the White Sox invested in him, but he’s a huge upgrade on offense, too, which was obvious this afternoon.


Another outfielder who had a good day was Adam Engel. He was driving the ball all over the field in batting practice and had some of the best rounds among all participants today. Take that with a grain of salt though, because we have seen this a few times in years past. It seems like Engel always comes prepared and looks good during spring training, but once the season starts we see a completely different player. Engel would be useful as a defensive replacement, but if he wants to have any kind of role beyond that he’s going to have to earn it. He hit well against lefties last season, so there’s the possibility that he can be used in a platoon role. However, 2019 was the first time in his career where Engel showed he can be successful in those situations — again, he will have to earn it if he wants to maintain a platoon role.


Today was another somewhat quiet day at Camelback Ranch, but the sound of Robert’s bat woke up everyone in the Glendale area. Tomorrow marks the first official full squad workout, as everyone on the spring training roster will be in camp. Baseball is finally back, and we will soon get a look at more of the players that Rick Hahn and Co. brought in this offseason. I expect the vibe to be a little more loose moving forward, as some of the players will be reuniting for the first time in months.

Exciting times are on the horizon for the White Sox — and tomorrow will be the true beginning of that.

Deep Dive: Adam Engel’s past, present and future with the White Sox

Steel, for real: The Man of Steal had arguably his best season with the White Sox in 2019. (@ManofSteal_15)


“Deep Dive” focuses on the depth of each position in the Chicago White Sox organization. Each position is broken into a five-part series:

  1. Depth in the rookie levels (Dominican through Great Falls)
  2. Depth in A-ball (Kannapolis and Winston-Salem)
  3. Depth in the higher levels (Birmingham and Charlotte)
  4. Under the Radar-type detail on one of the White Sox players at that position
  5. Free agent options at that position

How did he get here?

Unlike most three-year college hitters, Adam Engel was unable to post any above-average year offensively with the exception of stolen bases. As a junior for the Louisville Cardinals, he slashed just .236/.367/.301 in 65 games with nine doubles, two triples, one homer, 28 RBIs, 41 stolen bases, 32 walks (10.3%) and 35 strikeouts (11.3%); he also got hit by pitches a whopping 20 times. In the summer of 2012, prior to his junior season, he didn’t distinguish himself in the Cape Cod League as he slashed just .229/.328/.299.

This is what Baseball America said of him prior to the 2013 draft: “Few players in the 2013 draft can match Engel’s physical ability. He’s a 6-foot-1, 208-pounder who can cover 60 yards in 6.4 seconds, play a major league-caliber center field and display raw power potential. His arm is close to average, which is better than many center fielders. In spite of his first-round tools, his lack of performance at the plate will drop him at least a couple of rounds. While he has some bat speed and strength, he holds his hands too low at the plate and his righthanded swing doesn’t produce enough contact.” The White Sox ended up selecting him in the 19th round of that year’s draft. 

By the end of the 2014 season, Engel had advanced to Winston-Salem, where he played in 21 games. He returned to the Dash in 2015 and slashed .251/.335/.369 in 136 games with 23 doubles, nine triples, seven homers, 43 RBIs, 65 stolen bases, 62 walks (10.2%) and 132 strikeouts (21.7%). At the end of that year, he was the Arizona Fall League MVP as he slashed an incredible .403/.523/.642 in 19 games with nine doubles, two triples, a homer, 10 stolen bases, 16 walks (18.6%) and 11 strikeouts (12.8%). Engel divided the 2016 season among Winston-Salem, Birmingham and Charlotte and combined to slash .259/.344/.406 in 129 games with 30 doubles, 12 triples, seven homers, 46 RBIs, 45 stolen bases, 56 walks (9.6%) and 131 strikeouts (22.5%).  

Engel got off to a bad start with Charlotte to begin the 2017 season, but received the ultimate promotion on May 27. Aside from a brief demotion in June, he played the remainder of the year with the White Sox. After slashing .218/.312/.461 for the Knights in 46 games, he slashed a paltry .166/.235/.282 for the White Sox in 97 games with 11 doubles, three triples, six homers, 21 RBIs, eight stolen bases, 19 walks (5.7%) and 117 strikeouts (34.8%). While he did struggle at the plate with the White Sox in 2018, he performed much better (which admittedly isn’t saying much) as he slashed .235/.279/.336 in 143 games with 17 doubles, four triples, six homers, 29 RBIs, 16 stolen bases, 18 walks (3.9%) and 129 strikeouts (27.9%). He really made his name defensively, however, as he was a finalist in the Gold Glove balloting thanks in part due to homer-saving catches against the Yankees.

Engel’s 2019 with the White Sox

After receiving an early-season demotion with a .212/.268/.346 start, Engel responded favorably in thanks to the tutelage of future White Sox hitting instructor Frank Menechino. In 64 games for the Knights, Engel slashed a very respectable .270/.347/.464 with 13 doubles, four triples, nine homers, 29 RBIs, 13 stolen bases, 22 walks (7.9%) and 62 strikeouts (22.4%). He returned to the White Sox on July 19 and performed much better. In his 89 games in a White Sox uniform this year, he slashed .242/.304/.383 with 10 doubles, two triples, six homers, 26 RBIs, three stolen bases, 14 walks (5.6%) and 78 strikeouts (31.5%). Granted it’s not Silver Slugger material, his 2019 slash numbers were by far the best in his young three-year career.   

Engel’s Achilles heel offensively is the off-speed pitch. This year versus such offerings, he slashed a meager .161/.216/.194. He fared a bit better against breaking pitches (.209/.238/.343), but he mashed fastballs at a .279/.347/.450 clip. His spray chart was terrific as he pulled the ball 38% of the time, with decent percentages straight-away (37.3%) and opposite-field (24.7%). Engel’s BABIP was actually .343, well above-average, despite the fact that his hard-hit rate of 30% was below the league average of 34.5%. Thus, it appears Engel may have actually hit with a little bit of good luck this year. Of course, he struggles with the strikeouts in large part due to his struggles with the off-speed and breaking pitches. Also, part of Engel’s strikeout issues deal with swinging at pitches way off the plate, as he flails at them (20%) far more frequently than league average (7%).

Surprisingly, Engel fared far better on the road (.268/.330/.433) than he did at home (.223/.284/.346) which perhaps may mean he’s trying too hard to hit the long ball at homer-friendly Guaranteed Rate Field. He also performed much better with nobody out (.296/.337/.469) than he did with two outs (.187/.274/.307). While righties handled Engel with relative ease this year (.201/.272/.326), he frustrated southpaws to the tune of .313/.360/.482. With runners in scoring position, Engel actually did quite well as he slashed .283/.328/.433 in those spots. As with nearly everyone, he hit much better when ahead in the count (.263/.408/.491) than behind (.159/.179/.244).  

All this talk dissecting Engel’s offense, and I’ve yet to touch on his defense. By all accounts, he actually enjoyed a better year defensively in 2019 than his Gold Glove-caliber season the year before. According to FanGraphs, his RAR (Runs Above Replacement) shot up from 2.3 to 8.7, which is quite incredible since he barely played more than half the season in the majors. Baseball-Reference give Engel a defensive WAR of 0.5, which nearly equaled 2018’s 0.6, which is amazing because he played in 54 fewer games. Baseball Savant ranks Engel’s Outs Above Average in the 73rd percentile, his outfield jumps in the 83rd percentile, and his sprint speed in the 99th percentile. Engel simply didn’t garner any Gold Glove balloting this year, however, due to his part-time status and because he didn’t make nearly as many headline-grabbing catches.

Despite his usual terrific defensive play, he only garnered an 0.8 bWAR thanks in large part due to his low OPS+ of 83. Engel will likely never become a true offensive force, so it’s really his defense that gives him value. Considering that each WAR point is worth approximately $7.7 million per FanGraphs on the free agent market, and he only earned $555,000 in 2019, he provided the White Sox with a value of $7.145 million.

What does the future have in store for Engel?

Engel will be eligible for arbitration at the end of 2020, so he’ll still be earning the league minimum until that time. After three years of arbitration, Engel would become a free agent for the 2024 season. He likely will compete for the center field spot on Opening Day with Leury García, unless the White Sox determine that Luis Robert will make the team. When Robert does receive his promotion, Engel would be a valuable defensive replacement for Eloy Jiménez and/or the team’s new right fielder, and his bat wouldn’t be so exposed if that were the case. He’s really best suited for left field, however, due to his below-average arm. Despite the fact that Engel hasn’t swiped nearly as many bases with the White Sox as he did in the minors, he could still be used for pinch-running duties as well. Thus, it seems his long-term role with the White Sox would be that of a fourth or fifth outfielder, limiting his arbitration earnings going forward. 


 

Six Pack of Stats: White Sox 7, Cleveland 1

Pitching and Offense: It all came together in a terrific afternoon ballgame that resulted in a series split with Cleveland. (FanGraphs)

Masterful pitching and flaming bats spark a series-split afternoon victory

Last night’s late-innings offense, which was beautifully complemented by an outstanding pitching performance by Reynaldo López, carried over into this early afternoon’s ballgame! With that wonderful combination, the Chicago White Sox split the series against Cleveland!

1

First and foremost, ReyLo only gave up one hit in his complete-game performance! Can we please acknowledge how incredible Reynaldo has been for the second-half of the season!? It’s utter insanity, but I am totally here for it. Keep it up, ReyLo!

3

With his first complete game of the season, López joins Lucas Giolito and Iván Nova as the third White Sox pitcher to throw a complete game in the 2019 season. Funnily enough, it’s a cool 3-2-1 sequence with Gio, Nova, and ReyLo in the quantity of nine-inning games pitched, respectively.

7

For the Sox’s hitting perspective, the Good Guys put up seven runs on the board, and seven guys recorded hits to make that run total possible. Surprisingly enough, Welington Castillo and Adam Engel accounted for five of the seven RBIs. Unsurprisingly, Yolmer Sánchez had the other two RBIs. 🙂

12

The seven runs scored were based off of 12 hits. This offense can be all-or-nothing at times, like our neuron’s action potential, but it sure is fun to watch when the offensive is producing big like this!

22

With 22 games left of the season, this team has the (action) potential to do something great and to keep it interesting for the team and the fans; let’s hope that it happens!

62

The South Siders have accumulated 62 wins, and if they could get to 75, that would definitely be something to end the season with this year. It’s a long-shot goal, but it’s possible.