Minor key: The last bullpen spot

Eighth spot to lose: Improbably, a combination of factors give Carson Fulmer the inside track on the final White Sox bullpen spot. (@Carson_Fulmer)

For some pitchers, a relief role is the path to glory and riches. For others, it’s a last stand, a last-ditch attempt to cling to the majors. The Chicago White Sox feature both extremes in their Cactus League bullpen at present, and all manner of pitchers in-between.

The former was taken care of this past weekend. Aaron Bummer’s job security wasn’t in question this spring, but the organization assured so in a big way after announcing a long-term pact with the lefty reliever on Saturday.

The White Sox are loathe to go through the arbitration process with their players, but this contract is a big win for the team beyond dodging that process with Bummer. The 26-year-old was selected in the 19th round of the 2014 draft out of Nebraska and underwent Tommy John surgery as a minor leaguer. After posting a 2.13 ERA with a 72% ground ball rate in 67 ⅔ innings in 2019, boasting a 1.3 fWAR powered by an elite sinker, Bummer has arrived as a fixture in the Pale Hose bullpen going forward.

Bullpens are fickle, and deals like this one are uncommon as a result. But the deal guarantees a payout of only $16 million, and the decision-makers likely see that as a pittance in the face of four years of arbitration under super two status for a pitcher like Bummer, who’s seen as a major spoke in the wheel. Regression could obviously occur, but Bummer’s current status and future promise is a massive scouting win for the organization, which should rightfully celebrate his arrival as a dependable big league reliever.

Judgment Day: Carson Fulmer

Carson Fulmer was the third-ranked player in the 2015  draft according to MLB Pipeline. In Doug Laumann’s final year at the helm, the White Sox used the eighth overall pick in an otherwise poor class on the righthander from Vanderbilt. Many observers praised the organization for selecting another quick-moving pitcher and nabbing the “best college starter” in the class.

Pipeline lauded Fulmer for his competitiveness and placed a 70-grade on his fastball with a 60-grade curveball. The 6´0´´ righty threw his fastball in the 93-97 mph range and had been named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year. Fulmer displayed an electric arm, with a power breaking ball. Carson lacked prototypical size and possessed a tough-to-repeat, highly unorthodox delivery. Many evaluators questioned his command and control, wondering if he would end up in the bullpen down the road.

Fulmer didn’t throw enough strikes in college, and he hasn’t thrown enough strikes as a professional, either. Now hanging onto a roster spot tenuously, at risk of changing organizations, Fulmer’s future hinges on his ability to throw strikes this spring. The 26-year-old posted a 6.26 ERA in 27 big league innings last year, and that was after reworking his delivery in the offseason. He did average 13.5 K/9 with the Charlotte Knights with a 3.24 FIP — but also walked more than five hitters per nine as well.

Fulmer is the likely favorite to earn the eighth and final spot in the White Sox’s bullpen this spring. He’s out of options, and while losing him wouldn’t seem drastic, his draft status likely affords him one last shot in Chicago. He had a horrendous debut (two walks, two Ks, HBP, getting yanked mid-inning) in Sunday’s White Sox spring training opener, but Cactus League stats are a poor way to determine roster decisions; paying attention to how Fulmer looks and feels may end up being more appropriate. Fulmer’s cloudy future should be an interesting storyline to monitor, though, on a pitching staff lacking drama.

Easy decisions

With a 26-man roster taking effect in 2020, the White Sox will begin the season with eight relievers. Roster churn will bring a lot of new faces through Chicago during the course of the years, but the group likely to open the season won’t feature many surprises. The southpaw-hungry pen gives 26-year-old Jace Fry an easy spot, along with Bummer. Fry is a former third-rounder looking to bounce back in 2020, and controlling his walks will play a significant part in that quest.

Alex Colomé and Kelvin Herrera are back for another spin at the back end of the 2020 bullpen. They are both slated to make real money this year and will likely see high-leverage innings early in the season. Colomé is looking to keep thwarting his ugly peripherals, while Herrera just needs to remain healthy. Steve Cishek was signed as a free agent this offseason, and he should serve as quite an insurance policy for Rick Renteria.

Evan Marshall and Jimmy Cordero will likely receive spots as well. Marshall threw 50 ⅓ innings in 2019 and posted a 2.49 ERA. His walk rate increased, but he didn’t allow homers and kept the ball on the ground for the most part. The organization will pay the 29-year-old $1.1 million in 2020. Cordero was claimed off of waivers during the 2019 campaign and threw 37 ⅓ innings for the White Sox in 2019. The 6´4´´, 220-pounder throws very hard but doesn’t strike out many hitters. The sleeveless man posted a 2.89 ERA and is also out of minor league options, giving him an edge for  the big league roster.

Competition at camp

The White Sox released an extensive list of non-roster invites to spring training that included veteran journeymen along with pitching prospects from their own system. Zack Burdi, Matt Foster, Ian Hamilton and José Ruiz are members of the 40-man roster and the likeliest competition for the final spot on the big league roster. Ruiz has big-time power stuff, and threw 40 innings in Chicago in 2019. He’s not the front-runner for a spot breaking camp, but he’s definitely an option. The 25-year-old posted a 5.36 ERA in the majors.

Burdi was a first round pick in 2016 and is looking to finally crack into the bigs. The fireballer is healthy for the first time in awhile and could join the White Sox at some point during the 2020 season. Hamilton looked like a serious option at this time last year, but battled a facial fracture and injuries sustained in a car collision in 2019. Foster was a 20th round pick in 2016 and was added to the 40-man this offseason after posting a 3.76 ERA in Charlotte last year.

Kodi Medeiros, Drew Anderson, Bryan Mitchell, Jacob Lindgren, Caleb Frare, Brady Lail and Tayron Guerrero are some other arms who have an outside shot at a roster spot. Southpaws Medeiros, Lindgren and Frare have the benefit of being lefties, in somewhat high demand in the White Sox system. Mitchell, Anderson and Lail all have big league experience, and while they are more likely to pitch for the Knights than the White Sox, they still qualify as options. Guerrero throws extremely hard, but his peripherals leave much to be desired and is no longer a member of the 40-man.

Outside help?

Fulmer has the inside track at a roster spot due to his draft pedigree and option status, but he’s far from a lock. An outside addition via trade or waiver claim should also be considered a possibility in filling that final spot. The White Sox have added non-roster players to the roster prior to Opening Day in the past, and while it could happen again, its unlikely due to the names currently in the mix.

Fulmer’s grip on the final spot is shaky, and there’s a solid chance that his next big league game will be thrown in a different uniform. The ideal situation for the franchise would be someone like Hamilton or Burdi taking the reins and claiming a major league spot.

Who will be the eighth member of the White Sox’s bullpen to start the year? Internally, Ruiz appears to have the best shot at filling that role. From outside the organization, it’s anyone’s guess. The front office has an entire month to sort it out, and this whole exercise may seem futile once we get to March 26.

The biggest surprise would be to have a spring devoid of bullpen surprises.



The worst White Sox games of 2019

Walk-off walk? Oh, you betcha, we got all kinds of ugly here for you.

We started to get into on Monday, when LennyG opened our bests and worsts with a delightful dip into both flavors. On Wednesday, it was a peaceful stroll through a whole batch of top contests courtesy of the SSHP staff.

Today, it gets a little ugly: here, in chronological order, are the worst of our worst.

March 28 — Royals 5, White Sox 3

The season was over before it started, thanks to the front office’s offseason additions. Let’s take a look at some highlights from Ricky’s 2019 Opening Day lineup: Yonder Alonso at cleanup, Daniel Palka in the six-hole and Tim Anderson batting seventh. Seventh! But let’s not bury the lede here. Jon Jay would have been the Opening Day leadoff hitter if it weren’t for the injury no one really knew he had or how or when he suffered it. Surprisingly enough, I didn’t see Machado’s pet goldfish anywhere in the March 28 lineup. For the record, Nate Jones and Dylan Covey came on in relief, too. Aside from all the brutal headlines off the field going into the season, we still had to watch the Sox take on the lowly Royals on that brisk, foggy Kansas City afternoon.

Now, I always get excited for Opening Day, regardless of how embarrassing of an offseason my team executes. But the 2019 first game excitement slowly dwindled after Eloy’s first at-bat. Jiménez, in his big league debut, was in his swing-at-everything phase and could not handle Brad Keller’s off-speed pitches. He was also sandwiched between Alonso and Palka (a combined 0-for-6 that day), which is something that should just make you laugh, really. Carlos Rodón (remember him?) was good, not great. The Royals scored three runs off Rodón, and only two of those were earned thanks in part to the three errors his team committed behind him. The Sox were down 5-0 heading to the top of the ninth. Happy Opening Day! Granted, the Sox scored three and had the bases loaded with two outs, but even that situation made this game the worst of the year. The last batter was Yolmer Sánchez, who would not have even been in the lineup if it weren’t for the failure to sign Machado in the offseason. (Yes, Machado did not have a great year, but I’m going to go out on a limb and say I’d rather have him up than Sánchez with the bases loaded). Sánchez hit a lazy fly ball to end the first game. So, yeah, Opening Day is my choice as worst game of 2019. (Mike Gasick)

May 4 — Red Sox 15, White Sox 2

The White Sox got on the board in the first inning, grabbing a 1-0 lead on a single by José Abreu. Unfortunately, that was as good as things got for the White Sox. After retiring the first eight batters he faced, White Sox starter Manny Bañuelos did the impossible and surrendered 10 consecutive hits with two outs. Carson Fulmer, who came on in mop-up duty, also imploded, allowing five runs (three earned) while only recording one out. The Red Sox ran the score up to 15-1 by the fifth inning. I won SoxMath that day, but it kind of felt like I didn’t. (Joe Resis)

June 15 — Yankees 8, White Sox 4

Decimated by the dreaded Yankees 8-4, the White Sox only scored when it was all but over in the eighth, three on a James McCann dinger. The Yankees actually used an opener, which apparently mystified Sox hitters, and the home team should have done the same, because Reynaldo López got blasted for five runs in six innings. The Sox demonstrated very strongly why they’re a bad team, reverting to form against a mish-mash of Yankee pitchers by drawing no walks and striking out 16 – count ’em, 16 – times, with every starter contributing at least one whiffaroony. Bye-bye .500, never to be seen again, though the Sox flirted with achieving mediocrity a few times before indulging in a nice long losing streak that left it out of reach. And did I mention this humiliation was against the hated Yankees? (Leigh Allan)

July 12 — A’s 5, White Sox 1

There wasn’t anything particularly memorable about this 5-1 loss, but it was a microcosm the White Sox struggles in the second half of the 2019 season. The White Sox managed 10 hits in the game (good), but all 10 hits were singles (bad), and only led to one run. Hitting singles wasn’t a problem for the 2019 White Sox, but other types of hits and scoring runs were. Mike Fiers pitched to the tune of 7 ⅔ innings, one run on eight hits, a walk, and four Ks. Producing runs was a big problem for the Sox all year, and especially in the second half. Iván Nova pitched six innings, giving up four runs on 10 hits, which isn’t good, but isn’t a disaster either. But for the 2019 White Sox, that type of performance gets you beat. The Sox went 30-45 in the second half of the season after going 42-44 in the first half, and July 12 was a sign of things to come. (GuitarSox)

July 16: Royals 11, White Sox 0

What does it say that when given this “Best and Worst” assignment, I chose to complete this writeup first? Cleansing, I guess, or just so very Sox fan. Anyway, the White Sox had a miserable July, going 4-15 after the All Star Break. After predictably getting swept by the A’s in three games, the Sox went to Kansas City, where surely they’d right themselves. Wrong! They preceded to lose all four games to the freaking Royals, with this stinker epitomizing the entire lousy month. Glenn Sparkman pitched a complete game …wait, who’s Glenn Sparkman? That would be the same guy who finished the season 4-11 with a 6.02 ERA, a 1.507 WHIP, and a measly 5.4 K/9. The White Sox burnished all of those numbers with eight strikeouts and a lowly five hits (two of them coming off the bat of A.J. Reed, so, yeah, that was pointless). The White Sox pitching trio of Dylans Cease and Covey, and Josh Osich, meanwhile, gave up 14 hits, including an inside-the-park home run to Whit Merrifield. Osich had a particularly terrible eighth inning, with a walk, three hits, and four earned runs. Yuck, all of it, just … yuck. The Sox would finish the season 9-10 against a Royals team that lost 103 games. Yuck. (Lurker Laura)

September 15 — Mariners 11, White Sox 10

In the middle of September during the 2019 White Sox season, one would not expect to find the most frustrating game in an almost pointless season, but that’s where it is. Iván Nova started the game and looked fine through three innings while the Sox offense was, of course, being shut out. Then the fourth inning happened. Nova was only able to get one out, while allowing five runs. Oddly enough, none of them came via homer, but it was just an onslaught from Seattle hitters as one after another got a hit. However, the Sox actually showed some resiliency the very next half-inning. They scored eight runs, as home runs from Adam Engel and Welington Castillo accounted for seven of them. Sure it was a fun inning, but the highlights were from Engel and Castillo; by this time in the season, it was nothing to be excited about. The Sox did extend their lead to five, and things did seem to be lining up for a win, but it started to fall apart quickly from there.

Hector Santiago, who was doing well for his outing, finally broke in the eighth. He allowed three runs and it was the late-inning bullpen to the rescue. Kelvin Herrera came in, almost immediately allowed a homer, and was pulled. Jace Fry then came in and walked a batter on four pitches, and was pulled. Then Jimmy Cordero came in and actually did some good, striking out the only batter he faced, but again after just one batter, he was pulled. Finally, Josh Osich came in and got out of the inning, but of course before he did, that runner Fry allowed on base scored to tie the game 10-10.

The Sox did not do anything in the top of the ninth, but José Ruiz came in for the ninth inning to keep the tie intact. Normally, it would have been Alex Colomé; however, he allowed a walk-off homer to none other than Omar Narváez in the previous game, so it was somebody else’s turn to lose the game in dramatic fashion. Ruiz proceeded to load the bases with just one out, so he really needed a ground ball or a strikeout; he induced neither. With the count 1-2, Ruiz threw three straight balls to walk home the winning run, a truly pitiful performance as tens of people watched in Chicago. (Darren Black)

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Hollywood couldn’t make this one up

It was a scenario not even the most outrageous huckster would try to pitch to a movie studio.

“So here’s the deal. There’s this one team, they’ve had a big recovery from a real bad season start, and now they have a chance to make the playoffs, but they have to win pretty much all the rest of their games. First scene, they’re up against a team that has been out of the race all season, got nothing to play for except to get the season over – not quite the Bad News Bears, but you get the idea.

“So this game, the team playing for the playoffs has a young pitcher going that has been mowing down everybody he’s faced for a couple of months. The loser of a team has another young guy who can be pretty good, but isn’t very often. Sounds like a head-to-head of the kids, right? Only we put in a twist and the loser team pitcher hurts his leg warming up – warming up – and they have to suddenly bring in a bunch of guys from the bullpen to try to stop the good team.

“Sure, you think it could work with a good bullpen, only the best three relievers this team has pitched the night before and they’re not available. It’s up to the riffraffy types to try to save the day. And they do! They’re incredible! One after another, the whole bunch – let’s say five of them – lights out! Shutout game!

“But that’s not all. Team’s gotta score to win, right? So we let them go without a hit for a bunch of innings – let’s say until the fourth – and then, WHAM! Guy gets a hit, guy gets a walk – extra angle here, because this team has no idea how to take a walk usually – next guy, make him the catcher, boom! Three run homer! Next guy up is the worst hitter in baseball – horrible, horrible. Hasn’t hit a homer since the Carter administration, barely has a hit all year, and double wham – 113.8 miles per hour and gone!

“Next inning, guy leading the league in hitting gets a hit, guy leading the league in runs batted in drives him in, the score keeps mounting. While later the guy who hadn’t hit a homer in half a century does it again – 439 feet! Eight to zilch. Heck, just to put in another twist, the loser of a team, which usually strikes all the time and like I said never walks, gets six walks an only eight whiffs. Keen, huh?

“Time for the good team to come back, right? Only here’s the big twist – they don’t. Everybody in the audience expects the big heroic comeback, but they roll over like a tumbleweed in a twister, they fold like a napkin on a cruise ship. It finishes ocho-nada. Pretty good, huh?”

Studio head response: “Get him out of my office. Now!”

If you didn’t see it, chances aren’t you don’t believe, either, especially after Dylan Cease strained a hamstring in the bullpen warming up, and Jose Ruiz had to start the game. But here’s a James McCann three-run blast, followed by a little Palka poke:

Don’t believe Palka did it? How about twice?

The Sox even played some nifty D. Yoan Moncada had an error, but also a great grab. Yolmer Sanchez was all over the place making plays, and Tim Anderson got the Best Vertical Award.

But for all that, this game belonged to the bullpen. Ruiz got out of a bases-loaded jam and went 1 2/3 scoreless. Josh Osich pitched the longest – and arguably best – stint of his career, 3 1/3 perfect innings with 3 K’s. Jimmy Cordero went two perfect, Jace Fry an inning with one hit and two K’s, and even Hector Santiago chipped in, striking out the side in the ninth.

Isn’t playing spoiler fun? Not as much fun as being in a position to be the spoilee, maybe, but a fun nonetheless. The Indians aren’t completely eliminated from the possibility of a wild card, but you aren’t completely eliminated from the possibility of winning the Powerball, either.

Next up for the Sox is a venture into the depths horribleness, hopefully just for the other guys, as they face the Tigers for the final four games of the season. That fiasco begins with a doubleheader tomorrow, with game time of the opener moved up to 3:10 CDT to try to beat anticipated thunderstorms.

Twins beat White Sox 9-8; Ruiz, Colomé blow saves

I Feel Fine: Tim Anderson’s four hits raised his average to .336, including a phantom game-winning homer in the 11th. (@WhiteSox)

Tonight’s White Sox game against the Minnesota Twins began how many fans expected it to begin.

Well, not the first two innings. Ross Detwiler was on fire during those innings.

Detwiler going up against this powerful Twins lineup looked like a terrible matchup on paper, on the diamond — really, everywhere.

The Twins got their act together in the third inning, putting up a five-spot on the White Sox lefty.

Our good ol’ friend Ryan LaMarre hit a solo shot to start the scoring off Detwiler. Eddie Rosario doubled home Mitch Garver later that inning before Miguel Sanó sent a ball to Canada.

Sanó’s three-run home run that inning traveled 482 feet. I will enjoy watching him and Cruz terrorize other pitching staffs in the playoffs. We’ve seen enough of that against the White Sox this season.

But give credit to the White Sox. They battled back in this game. Detwiler did limit the damage after the third inning. He ended up going five innings, giving up just those five runs. Take what you can get.

James McCann was first to help the Sox chip away at the lead, driving in Eloy Jiménez from second base in the fourth inning.

Rosario made a nice play on Tim Anderson in the next inning, preventing Timmy from getting his third hit of the night. Regardless, Anderson and the Sox settled for a sac fly on the play to get the team within three runs of the lead.

Later that inning, José Abreu blooped an RBI single to right field. That was his 119th of the season. Not bad.

Then came the White Sox sixth inning. Zack Collins hit his second home run of his career high into the sky and into the right field seats. Before Collins’ teammates could finish giving him high-fives in the dugout, Adam Engel hit a solo shot of his own into the left field seats.

The White Sox had rallied back to tie the game, 5-5.

The Sox got some good bullpen work tonight. Evan Marshall, Aaron Bummer, Kelvin Herrera and Josh Osich all had scoreless outings.

The game stayed tied 5-5 until Anderson launched a home run to left in the 11th inning. It’s incredibly difficult to sneak a fastball by him. The pitch came after Anderson laid off a slider out of the zone.

Anderson’s average is up to .336.

White Sox closer Alex Colomé came on in bottom of the 11th to shut things down but could not do that. Colomé gave up a sac fly to Mitch Garver to extend the game.

That opened up an opportunity for Ryan Cordell to hit a pinch-hit, go-ahead two-run home run (I’m running out of hyphens) in the top of the 12th.

José Ruiz attempted the save in the bottom-half of the inning, and, well, that didn’t happen either. The Twins scored three in the inning and won it on a HBP. Ugh.

White Sox Minor League Update: August 21, 2019

Finishing kick: Steele Walker rides again, this time into a 10-game hitting streak! (Winston-Salem Dash)

Charlotte Knights 3, Durham Bulls 0

Nick Madrigal: 1-for-5, 0 BB, 0 K (.304 BA, .751 OPS)
Luis Robert: 1-for-3. 1 BB, 2 K (.310 BA, 1.029 OPS)
Seby Zavala: 2-for-4, 0 BB, 2 K (.232 BA, .811 OPS)
Danny Mendick: 1-for-4, 1 HR, 0 BB, 2 K (.281 BA, .826 OPS)
Odrisamer Despaigne: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 5 K (3.45 ERA, 1.34 WHIP) **MVP**

Well, well, well, is Odrisamer Despaigne playing his way to a September promotion? He went six shutout innings in the 3-0 win for Charlotte. Though he was not all that sharp (four walks), Despaigne only allowed singles, so he kept any damage at a minimum. The bullpen, compromised of Hunter Schryver and José Ruiz tonight, were just as good — especially Ruiz. He faced five batters and retired four of them; he walked the other. Obviously, the offense did not need to do much for the win. Danny Mendick had the big hit of the night, with a solo homer. It was one of the eight hits for the Knights, and one of the three runs. Ramon Torres was responsible for the other two.

Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp 7, Birmingham Barons 6 (10)

Luis González: 1-for-5, 1 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 SB (.249 BA, .682 OPS)
Luis Basabe: 0-for-5, 0 BB, 1 K (.229 BA, .619 OPS)
Blake Rutherford: 1-for-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K (.263 BA, .672 OPS)
Laz Rivera: 2-for-5, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K (.251 BA, .610 OPS) **MVP**
Blake Battenfield: 5 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (4.41 ERA, 1.38 WHIP)
Alec Hansen: 2/3 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K (5.71 ERA, 1.99 WHIP)
Codi Heuer: 2 1/3 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K (1.78 ERA, 1.11 WHIP)

A back-and-forth game found its way into extras, with the Barons falling short. Birmingham got on the board early, and with a flurry. Damek Tomscha was responsible for all three runs, a double in the first and a walk in the second. Blake Battenfield then got into some trouble of his own. He allowed four runs from innings 3-5 and was not sharp. Birmingham pitching in general was not sharp, and it could have been worse. By the time the game was tied in the ninth, the Barons had three double plays that saved a couple runs. Luis Martinez was the best of the pitchers in regulation, with two shutout innings, but Alec Hansen and Codi Heuer blew the lead. Hansen entered first, and his run allowed trimmed the Barons lead to one, and Heuer allowed a run off of his own error to tie the game in the ninth. Since extras start with a runner on second, the game-winning run was not earned, but Heuer still strand him, in a 10-inning loss.

Lynchburg Hillcats 4, Winston-Salem Dash 3

Steele Walker: 2-for-5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K (.286 BA, .810 OPS) **MVP**
Andrew Vaughn: 0-for-4, 0 BB, 1 K (.235 BA, .723 OPS)
Jorgan Cavanerio: 5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K (3.03 ERA, 1.11 WHIP)
Jacob Lindgren: 1 1/3 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K (1.32 ERA, 1.17 WHIP)

Steele Walker pushed Winston-Salem into the lead in the fifth inning, but two late runs allowed doomed the Dash. Walker collected two hits on the day, including one big one. In the fifth inning with the Dash down by one, Walker hit his ninth home run of the season, giving W-S a 3-2 lead. Jorgan Cavanerio started the game and helped keep the Hillcats at bay long enough for the Dash to take a lead. He went five good innings and struck out six. Bennett Sousa came in for the next two, and all he did was throw two perfect innings. Lindgren did have trouble, seeing two runs cross the plate over the course of his four recorded outs. One was unearned, but it was a blown save and eventually a loss.

Kannapolis Intimidators 4, Rome Braves 2

Ian Dawkins: 1-for-5, 0 BB, 0 K (.306 BA, .775 OPS)
Lenyn Sosa: 1-for-5, 0 BB, 1 K (.238 BA, .625 OPS)
Cameron Simmons: 2-for-3, 1 HR, 1 BB, 0 K (.242 BA, .691 OPS) **MVP**
Jason Bilous: 5 1/3 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K (3.54 ERA, 1.37 WHIP)

The I’s had control from the beginning in their 4-2 win over the Braves. Though the hitting was not great (just eight total hits and 1-for-7 with RISP), the extra-base hits came up big. Cameron Simmons put Kannapolis on the board in the second inning. He homered to right field, his second home run since arriving in Kannapolis. Corey Zangari came up with two on in the next inning, and went the other way for a two-run double.

Meanwhile, Jason Bilous was fantastic. He went five shutout innings, cruising through with a minimal pitch count. However, the sixth inning got him: He allowed two runs and was knocked out of the box after recording only one out. His final stat line looks merely OK, but Bilous was truly great for most of the outing. The bullpen came in and sealed the win for him. Devon Perez went 2 2/3 innings and was sharp, only allowing two runners on base. Austin Conway came in the ninth and shut down the Braves for his ninth save.

Great Falls Voyagers 11, Billings Mustangs 0

Caberea Weaver: 1-for-5, 3 R, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K (.258 BA, .699 OPS)
Harvin Mendoza: 1-for-5, 1 R, 3 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K (.311 BA, .906 OPS)
Lency Delgado: 1-for-5, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 3 K (.274 BA, .721 OPS)
Luis Mieses: 2-for-5, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 1 K (.259 BA, .671 OPS)
Avery Weems: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K (1.98 ERA, 1.18 WHIP) **MVP**

Aaron Boone definitely would have wanted this one to end early in the 11-0 Voyagers rout of the Mustangs. The best thing about this blowout was that of the 13 hits Great Falls had, 11 of them were singles, and every Voyagers batter had at least one. Kelvin Maldonado led the way with three hits, and one of those for extra bases. He also scored three times. The pitching did not need all the runs though, led by Avery Weems. He went five innings, and struck out nine. He has been a huge surprise from the 2019 draft class and he keeps dominating even at the advanced rookie league. Karan Patel saw action after him and threw two perfect innings. Allan Beer came in for mop-up duty in the eighth and ninth to complete the win.

DSL White Sox 3, DSL Dbacks 2

Yolbert Sánchez: 2-for-4, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K (.291 BA, .803 OPS) **MVP**
Elijah Tatís: 0-for-3, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 K (.194 BA, .524 OPS)
Oriel Castro: 5 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K (4.73 ERA, 1.75 WHIP)

Yolbert Sánchez had a big home run to help the DSL Sox win their 36th game of the season. The homer came in the fourth inning, to tie the game at one; it was his second homer of the year. In the very next inning, after the Sox took a one run lead off of a wild pitch, Sanchez came up to the plate again and knocked in Elijah Tatís for the 3-1 lead. While the offense began to take control of the game, Oriel Castro was great. He went five innings and though he wasn’t sharp (who is in the DSL?), he got the job done. He went five innings and allowed just one run in what might be his last game of 2019. The bullpen was not perfect, but it got enough of the job done to win 3-2.