Lucas Giolito splits his start in the MLB: The Show Players Tournament

Virtual baseball: Lucas Giolito is a proven ace in real life, but how does he fare in the video game world? (twitch.tv/generalgio)


Lucas Giolito, in his 1983 Sunday White Sox jersey, made his debut last night for the MLB: The Show Players Tournament, where one player from each team represents his respective ball club in an online baseball tournament. (Feel free to read Janice Scurio’s introduction to the event on SSHP to further familiarize yourself with the friendly, yet competitive competition!)

I took it upon myself to live-tweet the event, and I had a blast doing so! In case you missed it or just want to re-live last night’s opening events, I present to you … the game recap!


Game 1: Atlanta Braves at Chicago White Sox

To kick off the night, Giolito squared off against Luke Jackson of the Atlanta Braves. Rightfully so, Lucas Giolito opted to pitch the virtual game as himself. Giolito pitched into an early, bases-loaded jam to begin the tournament. However, like the ace Giolito is, he threw a fly out in-between two strikeouts to escape the jam unscathed. Unfortunately, Lucas could not capitalize on a major momentum shift, so the game remained scoreless after one full inning.

Both players settled in for the second inning, and failed to score.

However, to lead off the third and final inning, Luke Jackson went deep off of virtual Aaron Bummer for a solo shot to open the scoring, 1-0. Ace on the mound and an ace in the game, Giolito kept the damage to one. Looking for one to tie, two to win, Giolito went down 1-2-3.

Jackson squeezed by with a 1-0 victory, as Giolito dropped his first game of the tournament, resulting in an overall 0-1 record.


Game 2: Chicago White Sox at Miami Marlins

Shaking off a close game, Giolito stormed into his second match against Miami Marlin’s Ryne Stanek. Giolito opened the scoring with a deep two-run shot off of the bat of virtual Eloy Jiménez, 2-0 Good Guys!

For the bottom of the frame, Giolito started newly-acquired White Sox pitcher Dallas Keuchel. Stanek was able to snag a run, but that was all the Giolito/virtual Keuchel pairing surrendered in the inning.

Extra bases galore took over in the top half of the second inning. Lucas started with a leadoff double, which was immediately followed by an RBI triple! Then the triple came home on a single. Lucas scored two additional runs later in the inning; up 6-1, Lucas entered the bottom of the frame, where he pitched a scoreless inning!

Top of the third, Lucas snagged an extra run as he entered the bottom half up, 7-1. Keeping with the game’s momentum, Giolito pitched another scoreless inning and paved his way to his first victory of the tournament!

Lucas improved the Sox’s record to 1-1 overall and was looking to start a winning streak!


Game 3: New York Mets at Chicago White Sox

After some technical difficulties on Jeff McNeil’s end, game three of four was underway. Giolito started virtual Reynaldo López, who gave up a triple and walk to begin the game, but once again, the ace on the mound and in the game escaped the jam without allowing a run to cross the plate. However, similar to game one, Giolito could not score in his half of the inning.

Knotted 0-0, the second inning saw McNeil and the Mets score four runs. On the bright side, Giolito grabbed two runs in his half of the second to keep the game close!

McNeil was able to tack on an insurance run in the top of the third, adding to a 5-2 lead. Giolito looked for three to tie, four to win, but he left the final frame with a goose egg.

Lucas and the virtual Chicago White Sox sat at 1-2 overall as they went into their fourth and final game of the night.


Game 4: Chicago White Sox at Toronto Blue Jays

Ready to move on from his second loss of the night and even up his overall record, Giolito put up a crooked number in the top half of the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays’ Bo Bichette.

Bichette was 3-0 to start the MLB: The Show Players Tournament, so going up 3-0 in the first was a crucial accomplishment for Giolito. Giolito also left Bichette scoreless in the first, as Giolito pitched as his virtual self once again.

Giolito managed a few baserunners in the second inning to continue the pressure, but the runners did not find their way home. As for Bichette’s half of the second, he rocked a solo-shot to centerfield, but the ace kept the damage at one.

Entering the final inning up 3-1, Giolito threatened to score but could not add anymore insurance runs. Looking for the save and victory No. 2 on the night, Giolito put in Alex Colomé to seal the deal. As consistent as Colomé was for the 2019 season, virtual Alex is no different!

Lucas Giolito and the virtual Chicago White Sox put an end to Bichette’s three-game winning streak and evened their overall record at 2-2.


Afterthoughts

Interestingly, Lucas is 2-0 on the road, and he is 0-2 at home to the start of the Players Tournament!

Lucas Giolito currently resides in second place in the AL Central. Niko Goodrum and the virtual Detroit Tigers lead the division with a 3-1 record, with Kansas City and Cleveland yet to play. One game out of first and a few competitive games under his belt, look for Lucas to challenge Goodrum for the top spot in the division.

Overall, Lucas had a solid start to the tournament. His next scheduled set of games will occur this Wednesday, April 15 at 8:00PM CST; once again, I will live-tweet his performance in a Twitter thread. MLB is also keeping track of the records and schedules on their website. Lucas will play another four games: Pittsburgh, the North Side, Kansas City, and Colorado.

If you wish to watch Lucas live, make sure to give him a follow on his Twitch account, where he streams all of his practices and competitive games. All streams are available to re-watch at any given time! His commentary is fantastic, he constantly answers fans’ questions (he even demonstrated each of his pitching grips last night), and he radiates pure wholesomeness. Come for the MLB: The Show Players Tournament, but stay for Giolito’s wonderful character and personality.


 

 

Lucas Giolito takes White Sox fans to the Show in players-only video game competition

Practice makes perfect: in his Friday night practice session, White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito asks fans for setting advice during a Twitch stream. Not a fan of pulse pitching myself. Meter all the way. (twitch.tv/generalgio)


With the delay of the baseball season throwing many fans in the doldrums, a hero has risen to pull us out of our Springtime funk: the Sony PlayStation game, MLB The Show 20. The game was released on March 17, days after MLB announced the suspension of all spring training games due to the Coronavirus pandemic. MLB would later announce the ultimate delay of the 2020 season, and with many variables and questions still in the air can we forecast when the season will begin? Will we see any season at all?

While far from a viable replacement for IRL baseball, the Show has already been used creatively to get us through flattening the curve; NBC Sports Chicago hosts a simulated stream of the game, called by none other than Jason Benetti and Chuck Garfien.

If you’ve been grasping for any drops of baseball lately, fret no more: the MLB Players League begins Friday and runs through April 28, with a postseason to follow. All 30 teams will duke it out online in a 29-game regular season, represented by one ballplayer-gamer of choice. Each player will receive a $5,000 donation to go to a Boys and Girls Club affiliate; the winner will receive an additional $25,000 donation.

Your Chicago White Sox will be represented by none other than the club ace, Lucas Giolito. Giolito is an avid gamer; he’s a seasoned Rocket League player, has admitted he has an affinity for Animal Crossing, and while there’s no baseball on the horizon, he’ll occasionally stream Call of Duty: Warzone sessions with teammates Carlos Rodón and Dallas Keuchel. 

Though you can watch the Player’s League streams for free, fans interested in investing in Giolito’s gaming journey can subscribe to his new Twitch channel for a fee of $4.99. A subscription, as opposed to a follow, gives you a fancy subscriber badge, ad-free viewing, as well as an exclusive chat just for subscribers. 

Giolito said during his practice stream on Friday night that he will be pocketing no revenue he receives from his Twitch channel; instead he plans on finding a charity and donating accordingly. “It’s all about interacting with the fans,” Giolito said. “And just having fun gaming.” 

Gaming for good. We at SSHP can get behind that. 

Check out Lucas Giolito’s first game, against Luke Jackson of the Atlanta Braves on Sunday, April 12, at 8 p.m. CST by dropping by Giolito’s Twitch channel — again, that’s https://www.twitch.tv/generalgio.

Let’s go, Lucas!

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.

The White Sox drop their simulated home opener, 5-2

What could have been: Luis Robert grabs his first major league hit during the simulated Opening Day game against the Kansas City Royals. (@WhiteSox)


Whether an actual baseball game is played or not, South Side Hit Pen is here for you!

As many of you know, today was supposed to be the long-awaited White Sox home opener. Unfortunately, life happens. Fortunately, Strat-O-Matic is helping baseball nation out by simulating the 2020 games, day by day. Yes, they even remembered to include the Sox! As all of baseball should know, this team is the team to watch for the foreseeable future.

On this overcast, 40-degree day, your Chicago White Sox were anticipated to send out this interesting lineup formation:

  1. Yoán Moncada 3B
  2. Yasmani Grandal C
  3. Eloy Jiménez LF
  4. Edwin Encrnación DH
  5. José Abreu 1B
  6. Tim Anderson SS
  7. Nomar Mozara RF
  8. Yol- … I mean … Leury García 2B
  9. Luis Robert CF

Personally, I would have flip-flopped Eloy and Abreu, as one of many rearrangements to this lineup.

And of course, Lucas Giolito was given the first start of the year by the Sox’s pitching staff! However, Giolito would go on to pitch only five innings, where he gave up four runs on six hits, three walks, and a long ball. On the bright side, he did theoretically throw eight strikeouts, which we absolutely love to see!

As for the White Sox offense, it wasn’t too shabby. Every starting player had a hit besides the beloved Grandal. So, what does that mean? It means LUIS ROBERT SNAGGED HIS FIRST MAJOR LEAGUE HIT IN HIS FIRST BIG LEAGUE GAME! The arrow points up for Robert! The newcomer Mazara even hit a long ball! (The Sox won the trade.)

As for our *favorite* AL Central team, Danny Duffy earned the win in his first start of the year. He went 5 ⅔ innings, giving up only two runs off of eight hits while only striking two batters out. My #SoxMath brain is pointing out that the arithmetic seems a little off there, but I’ll let Duffy and the Royals have this victory; besides, the Sox are going to take the remaining games against Kansas City, anyway.

Kansas City’s offense compiled five runs off of nine hits, including two home runs. Can confirm no bat flips were initiated by the Royals. Can also confirm TA7 is waiting for Brad Keller for his first homer and bat flip of the year.

Even though the situation isn’t what we all anticipated come today, I hope you are all doing your part to stay safe! Real-life baseball games will be here before you know it, and our brilliant SSHP staff will have all of your game threads, game recaps, Six Packs, and many more fun articles that accompany actual games being played!

Arm swing, and Louisville things, with Zack Burdi

Back on track: Burdi’s solid showing so far this spring puts him back in line for a 2020 or 2021 call-up. (Sean Williams/South Side Hit Pen)


As part of a series of spring roster moves, the White Sox optioned Zack Burdi to Double-A Birmingham on Wednesday. Although Burdi will not break camp with the big club, his impressive spring showing has re-established him as a top arm in the White Sox system. 

In four scoreless appearances, Burdi recorded four strikeouts while only allowing two total baserunners. After spending the better part of three years working his way back from multiple injuries, just being back facing hitters had to be a moral victory for the former first-rounder out of the University of Louisville. However, moral victories are not Burdi’s end goal, and he was nice enough to take some time to talk last weekend about his rehab process and some of the mechanical changes he’s made that will hopefully pay off long-term.


Rehab process

I remember watching both Zack and his brother, Nick, a relief pitcher for the Pirates, shutting down overmatched opponents in their days at the University of Louisville. Nick is having an extremely impressive spring as well coming off of severe injury, having allowed just one earned run with with eight strikeouts in 4 ⅔ IP. Both Burdis were regarded as lockdown relief prospects, and both have run into some brutal luck with injuries.

“It’s kind of ironic that we were rehabbing at about the same time both times we have gotten injured,” Burdi told South Side Hit Pen. “[Nick] had Tommy John in May 2017 and I had TJ in July 2017, so we went through rehab together, and then we both had injuries last year also. It has definitely been nice to have someone in a similar situation to lean on while we were rehabbing. It obviously was tough mentally as well as physically, but we just tried to stay positive and believe that long-term, some good would come out of it.”

Hopefully, the arduous rehab process will make success that much sweeter for both of these two (as long as Nick’s doesn’t come against the White Sox).

By the way, Zack and I have a few things in common, background-wise …

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Mechanical changes

This spring, I noticed that Zack’s arm action seemed different from what I remembered. Here are a few videos of his mechanics prior to his injuries:

And here is recent video from spring training 2020:

As you can probably tell, Burdi’s arm swing is a lot shorter, something that Lucas Giolito found success with last year. After realizing this, I was interested in the reasoning behind this change for Burdi, and whether Giolito’s success played a factor in that decision.

“[The mechanical change] started after my injury in 2017,” Burdi says. “After [Tommy John], I talked with many different coaches, and we came to the conclusion that my arm swing was too long. It’s been a continual process since then to shorten my arm action to try and keep [my arm] in a better position so it wouldn’t lag behind the rest of my motion, causing me to have to work to catch up. After Giolito’s similar mechanical change last year and the success he had, I talked with him about the change I was making, and he gave me some of the drills he used to help develop and reinforce his new mechanics. From the feedback I’ve gotten and how I feel so far, it’s a lot cleaner arm action and has helped my timing down the mound.”

To my untrained eye, and from what Giolito said last year, this new arm action should not only help Zack put less stress on his arm, but will also help with command (as it seems more compact and repeatable) and hiding the ball from the hitter a bit more. So far, the results have been promising, despite the small sample. Although Burdi’s velocity has been 95-97 rather than the typical 99-100 mph he was sitting at prior to surgery, he has showcased good movement and command of all his pitches.

As the season ramps up, Burdi should be able to keep gradually increasing towards the century mark in terms of velocity. Either way, he has the stuff to get big outs, and if that happens, Burdi could be an X-factor in a (hopefully) second half pennant push for the South Siders.


p.s. — For my Louisville readers (or if you’re ever visiting the ‘Ville), check out some of me and Zack’s favorite hot spots — you won’t be disappointed!

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SSHP Podcast 19: Yoán Moncada extension

(Tom Borowski/South Side Hit Pen)


SSHP managing editor and Future Sox senior editor James Fox hops on to talk with Brett Ballantini about his latest scoop, breaking the Yoán Moncada contract extension. The two also talk about future White Sox contract extensions, the 2020 starting rotation and the battle for the 26th man on the roster.

You may have heard: We’re on Apple Podcasts!

AL Central Big 3: The pitching

Leading man: The White Sox will need Giolito to be on his A-game, while also needing improvements from its young nucleus of starters, in order to contend for this year’s division title. (@LGio27) 


It’s been quite the interesting offseason in the AL Central.

The White Sox have added a number of solid veterans to its young core, while also granting extensions for veteran slugger José Abreu and phenom outfielder Luis Robert. The Twins added Josh Donaldson to its already potent offense while adding rotation depth in the forms of Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey and Rich Hill. Cleveland, in the meantime, has basically maintained their status quo with the exception of trading pricey hurler Corey Kluber for reliever Emmanuel Clase and Delino DeShields Jr. as they hope to maintain their success by simply staying healthy.

Of course, based on last season, there’s quite a bit of separation among the three teams: The Twins are coming off a 101-61 season, Cleveland a 93-69 record, and the White Sox a 72-89 mark. But as there should unquestionably be some better bunching at the top this season (PECOTA projects 93, 86 and 82 wins, respectively), we’re ramping up to the start of Cactus League play with three looks at the Big 3 ball clubs, on offense, pitching and intangibles. 

Projected 2020 stats are per Steamer, and players’ ages listed in parentheses are as of Opening Day.


Minnesota Twins

Starting Rotation
José Berrios (R) 4.48 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 198 IP, 2.71 BB/9, 8.63 K/9, 3.0 fWAR
Jake Odorizzi (R) 4.59 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 172 IP, 3.19 BB/9, 9.36 K/9, 2.3 fWAR
Kenta Maeda (R) 4.66 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 154 IP, 3.23 BB/9, 9.09 K/9, 1.9 fWAR

Homer Bailey (R) 5.02 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 153 IP, 2.92 BB/9, 7.21 K/9, 1.4 fWAR
Randy Dobnak (R) 5.03 ERA, 1.43 WHIP,   90 IP, 2.72 BB/9, 5.50 K/9, 0.7 fWAR

Injured or Suspended Starters
Michael Piñeda (R) 4.63 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 129 IP, 2.22 BB/9, 8.22 K/9, 1.7 fWAR
Rich Hill (L) 4.42 ERA, 1.29 WHIP,   88 IP, 3.25 BB/9, 9.41 K/9, 1.2 fWAR

Aggregate Rotation Numbers: 4.60 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 2.77 BB/9, 7.95 K/9, 12.2 fWAR

Bullpen
Taylor Rogers (L) 3.44 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 65 IP, 2.64 BB/9, 10.65 K/9, 0.9 fWAR
Sergio Romo (R) 4.94 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 67 IP, 3.00 BB/9,   8.35 K/9, 0.1 fWAR
Trevor May (R) 4.13 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 60 IP, 3.65 BB/9, 10.65 K/9, 0.5 fWAR
Tyler Duffey (R) 3.81 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 65 IP, 2.63 BB/9, 10.09 K/9, 0.8 fWAR
Tyler Clippard (R) 4.99 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 55 IP, 3.35 BB/9,   9.13 K/9, 0.0 fWAR
Zack Littell (R) 4.37 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 45 IP, 3.22 BB/9,   8.79 K/9,  0.3 fWAR
Cody Stashak (R) 4.68 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 40 IP, 2.53 BB/9,   8.82 K/9,  0.1 fWAR
Matt Wisler (R) 4.63 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 20 IP, 2.40 BB/9,   8.34 K/9,  0.1 fWAR

Aggregate Relief Numbers: 4.30 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 3.06 BB/9, 9.50 K/9, 2.8 fWAR

Total Twins Pitching: 4.51 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 2.86 BB/9, 8.43 K /9, 15.0 fWAR   

Certainly, some regression was expected for the Twins on the offensive side, but Steamer is anticipating regression for many Twins pitchers as well — especially in regards to top starters Berrios and Odorizzi. Regression is also expected for new acquisition Maeda, who is leaving the friendly pitching confines of Dodger Stadium. Piñeda won’t return from his league-mandated suspension until mid-May, while Hill won’t return from his offseason surgery until sometime around the All-Star break. In the meantime, a three-way battle will exist for the final spot between Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe. While the Twins bullpen doesn’t feature many big names, it does a competent job by posting impressive strikeout totals and keeping walks down. Aside from their closer, the Twins have no southpaws in the bullpen unless they decide to move Smeltzer there at some point. All Minnesota’s pitching has to do is keep the team in the game, as its offense should be exciting enough (even with the expected regression) to score five runs per game.     


Cleveland

Starting Rotation
Shane Bieber (R) 3.66 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 198 IP, 1.80 BB/9, 9.74 K/9, 4.6 fWAR
Carlos Carrasco (R) 3.80 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 173 IP, 2.19 BB/9,  9.86 K/9, 3.5 fWAR
Aaron Civale (R) 4.81 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 148 IP, 2.31 BB/9, 7.06 K/9, 1.4 fWAR
Zach Plesac (R) 5.07 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 119 IP, 2.91 BB/9, 7.37 K/9, 0.7 fWAR
Logan Allen (L) 4.90 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 101 IP, 3.82 BB/9, 7.80 K/9, 0.5 fWAR

Injured Starters
Mike Clevinger (R) 3.65 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 197 IP, 3.05 BB/9, 10.87 K/9, 3.6 fWAR 

Aggregate Rotation Numbers: 4.18 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 2.58 BB/9, 9.07 K/9, 14.3 fWAR  

Bullpen
Brad Hand (L) 3.68 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 65 IP, 3.23 BB/9, 11.10 K/9, 0.7 fWAR
Nick Wittgren (R) 4.49 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 65 IP, 3.03 BB/9,  8.66 K/9, 0.1 fWAR

Emmanuel Clase (R) 3.78 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 55 IP, 3.39 BB/9,  9.57 K/9, 0.5 fWAR
Oliver Perez (L) 4.06 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 68 IP, 3.14 BB/9,  9.73 K/9, 0.3 fWAR 
Adam Cimber (R) 4.54 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 60 IP, 2.90 BB/9,  6.67 K/9, 0.0 fWAR
Hunter Wood (R) 4.44 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 35 IP, 3.11 BB/9,  8.93 K/9, 0.1 fWAR
James Karinchak (R) 3.58 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 40 IP, 4.79 BB/9, 12.60 K/9, 0.4 fWAR
Adam Plutko (R) 5.20 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 48 IP, 2.37 BB/9,   7.71 K/9, -0.1 fWAR

Aggregate Relief Numbers: 4.18 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 3.20 BB/9, 9.33 K/9, 2.0 fWAR

Total Cleveland Pitching: 4.18 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 2.80 BB/9, 9.15 K/9, 16.4 fWAR

The top three in Cleveland’s rotation (including Clevinger) is among the best trio of starters in the league, while the bullpen features four guys who strike out more than a man per inning. For obvious reasons, losing Clevinger for any significant period of time will hurt the Indians in the divisional chase; it’s not expected that he’d miss more than three or four weeks to begin the season. In the meantime, the fourth and fifth spots are potentially vulnerable due to limited experience in the majors. If one of Civale or Plesac should struggle, don’t be too surprised to see Plutko inserted into the rotation while James Hoyt gets promoted from Triple-A to fill his spot. Cleveland also has several minor leaguers (including Triston McKenzie) who can help the team if needed, and they have the best rotational depth in the division overall.


Chicago White Sox

Starting Rotation
Lucas Giolito (R) 4.26 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 191 IP, 3.44 BB/9, 10.31 K/9, 3.2 fWAR
Dallas Keuchel (L) 4.38 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 197 IP, 3.00 BB/9,   6.85 K/9, 2.4 fWAR
Reynaldo López (R) 4.96 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 159 IP, 3.18 BB/9,   8.27 K/9, 1.5 fWAR
Dylan Cease (R) 4.52 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 108 IP, 4.17 BB/9,   9.54 K/9, 1.4 fWAR
Gio González (L) 4.89 ERA, 1.47 WHIP,  133 IP, 3.81 BB/9,  7.72 K/9, 1.1 fWAR

Injured Starters
Michael Kopech (R) 4.78 ERA, 1.39 WHIP,   91 IP, 4.29 BB/9, 10.25 K/9, 0.9 fWAR
Carlos Rodón (L) 4.73 ERA, 1.38 WHIP,  37 IP, 3.66 BB/9,   8.65 K/9,  0.4 fWAR

Aggregate Rotation Numbers: 4.59 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 3.53 BB/9, 8.68 K/9, 10.9 fWAR  

Bullpen
Alex Colomé (R) 4.33 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 63 IP, 3.23 BB/9,   9.08 K/9, 0.3 fWAR
Aaron Bummer (L) 3.74 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 65 IP, 3.72 BB/9,   9.33 K/9, 0.7 fWAR
Steve Cishek (R) 4.71 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 65 IP, 3.77 BB/9,    8.63 K/9,  0.0 fWAR
Evan Marshall (R) 4.43 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 60 IP. 3.60 BB/9,   8.18 K/9, 0.2 fWAR
Kelvin Herrera (R) 4.51 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 50 IP, 3.04 BB/9,   8.97 K/9, 0.3 fWAR
Jace Fry (L) 3.86 ERA, 1,38 WHIP, 67 IP, 4.71 BB/9, 10.47 K/9, 0.4 fWAR
Jimmy Cordero (R) 4.40 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 35 IP, 4.36 BB/9,   8.56 K/9, 0.1 fWAR
Carson Fulmer (R) 5.08 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 25 IP, 4.89 BB/9,   9.24 K/9, -0.1 fWAR

Aggregate Relief Numbers: 4.31 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 3.81 BB/9, 9.10 K/9, 1.9 fWAR

Total White Sox Numbers: 4.50 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 3.62 BB/9, 8.81 K/9, 12.8 fWAR

It certainly doesn’t appear that Steamer did the White Sox pitchers many favors with its projections. One can see that Cease and López are expected to gain some improvement in the rotation, but the rest of the rotation is projected to struggle. To be fair, Giolito’s projections are at least closer to his 2019 numbers than to his disastrous 2018. Also, it is incredibly difficult to project rotational pieces who have shown little consistency from year to year. Keuchel and González, unsurprisingly, are expected to decline as they’re both into their 30s. There’s also a chance that Kopech begins the year in the rotation, with González perhaps to be the designated long man after each of his starts. As for the bullpen, the only pitchers expected for improvement (albeit moderate) are Herrera, Fry and Fulmer. It’s interesting to see their projections for Cishek fall to such a degree, but that’s why they play the game. If everyone reaches the ceiling, the White Sox could easily pass the Indians in fWAR by year’s end; however, the likelihood that all cylinders run with perfect profusion, especially for such a young staff, is quite minimal indeed. Fulmer’s listed as the last guy in the pen, if for no other reason that he has no options left; there likely will be heavy competition for this final spot from among Ian Hamilton, José Ruiz, Jacob Lindgren and many others.


When looking at the rotation stats, Cleveland has a clear advantage thanks to its big three of Clevinger, Bieber and Carrasco. The White Sox and Twins rotations are actually quite even, as both teams have solid top-twos but question marks afterward. There’s not much separation among these three teams in the bullpen, but Cleveland appears to have a slight edge on both the White Sox and Twins. If the White Sox staff can avoid free passes, which Steamer doesn’t think it can, the White Sox should definitely beat their overall projections.   

These aggregate fWAR totals for each team are only based upon each team’s projected Opening Day rosters (plus contributions of those either on the injured or suspended lists), so they don’t include contributions from those expected to begin the season in the minors. Combined with the offensive fWAR numbers published yesterday, the Twins have the best preseason projections among its 26-man roster (44.3 fWAR); Cleveland falls second at 38.7, while the Sox are a close third at 36.9.

This doesn’t man the White Sox should simply give up the season; it just means expectations should be tempered just a bit. It truly appears that the White Sox offense should be just fine; however, the team will only go so far as its pitching this year. A lot may also depend upon the health of these three teams as to who’ll go the furthest. While each will be hoping and anticipating great starts, it’s perhaps most imperative for the Tribe because  a rocky beginning to 2020 could impel the team to rebuild instead of contend. Fortunately for everyone, games aren’t played on paper and/or projections, but are played on the diamond. It should be an exciting an and compelling 2020 campaign!


 

P*RO*S*P*E*C*T: You tell ’em, Aretha

Hall-of-Famers: Aretha and Otis turned out all right, but dealing in prospect chatter is a dicey business. (Rhino)


[As we officially kick off our Top 100 Prospect countdown with the inimitable José Nin, as well as the Top Prospect Vote at SSS, a reminder to keep it all in perspective, courtesy of all-time top soul prospect Otis Redding.]

At the end of Richard Greenberg’s brilliant baseball play Take Me Out, the season is over and Mason, a nerdy accountant who came to love the game as the business manager of a superstar, asks plaintively, “What are we going to do until spring?”

The answer, of course, is bury ourselves in the hot stove league.

In ancient days, the vision of the hot stove league was more or less literal — a bunch of geezers sitting around the woodburner at the general store, slugging sarsaparilla, biting off some beef jerky, and tossing peanut shells on the floor while they ponder the likely fates of their favorite teams. Nowadays it’s more likely participants will be in a coffee shop, sipping soy lattes and nibbling at gluten-free, lactose-free, salt-free, sugar-free, organic free range fair trade arugula chips and communicating by keyboard, but the principle is the same — either way, it’s an enjoyable diversion from winter that doesn’t mean much.

Which brings us to the PROSPECT LIST, a sort of officialized version of shooting the bull. Now, I certainly don’t want to denigrate the people who compile prospect lists or those who evaluate the evaluators They all — or you all, in the case of SSHPers — have a great deal more baseball knowledge than I’ll ever have, and go to a tremendous amount of work to compile the lists. Still, they’re just lists of someone’s opinions, no matter how analytically based, at one point in time, a point before players hit the big leagues. They’re slightly more likely to hit paydirt than the prospectors trying to survive on hardtack in Nome 120 years ago, but not all that much. Everything can change between the minors and majors.

Want to feel happy about the White Sox future? Pick a list where we have 10 in the Top 100. Want to continue gloomy? Pick one where we have two. Wonderful thing is, neither matters — same players in the system, same chance of success.

I was going to try a little serious historical evidence for this, but my plans went awry. I randomly decided to try 2013 prospect lists, then picked Baseball Prospectus from among the first page results. That turned out a little depressing, because the White Sox were the only MLB team without a single player in BP’s Top 101 that year.

Moreover, a scan down the names did turn up two future Sox — Lucas Giolito at No. 70 and Matt Davidson at No. 89. We all know how well those have worked out so far. Giolito worked his way up to top pitching prospect in all of baseball, but worked his way right to the bottom of real MLB pitching as a rookie before his brilliant recovery last year, which gives us hope. That’s what the hot stove is for — hope in the gloom of winter. But then there was Davidson.

That glimpse back made me to take a slightly different approach. The natural choice was a song written by the late great Otis Redding. I find no evidence Redding was a baseball fan, but he nailed the hot stove league concept in his final release, the first recording ever to make No. 1 on Billboard posthumously:

I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watchin’ the tide roll away, ooh
I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

You just know part of the chat out on that dock was about baseball. That’s not the song I have in mind, though — it’s the one Redding wrote that was immortalized by the also late and even greater Aretha Franklin. Feel free to Ooo. And pronounce the RO as “row.”

P*RO*S*P*E*C*T
(Ooo) What you want
(Ooo) Baby, has he got it?
(Ooo) What you need
(Ooo) do you know if he got it?
(Ooo) All I’m askin’
(Ooo) Is for a good prospect to bring on home (can he hit a bit?)
Hey baby (or pitch a lick?) bring on home
(A defense whiz, who also knows what the strike zone is?)

Is it gonna go wrong when your list is gone?
Is it gonna go wrong (ooo) cause I don’t want that (ooo)
All I’m askin’ (ooo)
Is a good prospect to bring on home (catch just a little bit?)
Baby (frame just a little bit?) to bring on home (throw just a little bit?)
Yeah (run just a little bit?)

I’m about to give him all of my money
And all I’m askin’ in return, honey,
Is to give me a player who
Can bring it on home (just a hitter, just a pitcher, just a, just a)
Yeah baby (just good coverage of the plate or a fastball that goes 98)
Bring it on home (just a little bit of power)
Yeah (whose game won’t turn sour)

Ooo, your misses (ooo)
Haven’t been funny (ooo)
And still they cost me (ooo)
A whole lot of money (ooo)
All I want you to do (ooo) for me
Is pick me a player that can bring it on home (heavy on the RBI)
Yeah, baby (or a wicked breaking slider guy)
Whip it to me (prospect who can really swing it)
Who can bring it home now (or one who can really wing it)

 P*RO*S*P*E*C*T
Find me one who can do it all
P*RO*S*P*E*C*T
TCB, Takin’ Care of Ball

Oh (sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me)
A little prospect (sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me)
Whoa, yeah (just a little good)

A little prospect (one who can hit)
I get tired (I mean really hit)
I keep on tryin’ (you keep blowin’ it)
You’re runnin’ out of fools (how about a real pitcher?)
And I ain’t lyin’ (one whose curveball’s a bewitcher?)
(re, re, re, re) Great prospect, you gotta bring home
(re, re, re, re) Or in a couple of years (with no prospects who can play)
You’ll find out I’m gone (it could happen one day)

P*RO*S*P*E*C*T
Bring a great prospect to me
P*RO*S*P*E*C*T
One who’ll be a force in MLB!

Aretha could have done it, too. The White Sox were undefeated in Civil Rights games where she got the MLB Beacon Award. Okay, 1-0, but undefeated is undefeated.

 

The best White Sox games of 2019

Delightful drenching: His first White Sox home run was going to be magical no matter what, but Eloy Jiménez hitting two in the rain to down the Yankees was extra special. (@ChicagoSports)


We started to get into on Monday, when LennyG opened our bests and worsts with a delightful dip into both flavors.

So here, in chronological order, are the rest of our best.


April 12: White Sox 9, Yankees 6 (rain-shortened to seven innings)

The game of the year happened back in April. It was before Lucas Giolito was good, James McCann really got on his run, and Sox fans wanted Yonder Alonso to pack his bags and never return. It was in New York, when Sox fans already had lost any hope, but Eloy Jiménez gave us something to look forward to. In the rain-shortened game, Eloy hit his first two home runs at Yankee Stadium. The first, a two-run shot to straightaway center, gave the Sox the lead as the rain was already coming down pretty hard. Eloy was not done yet, though. In what ended up being the last inning of the game (the seventh), he clobbered a baseball to left field to put the Sox up two and salting away the game. It was a night that no Sox fan should forget. The top prospect coming up and hitting his first two home runs in Yankee Stadium is no small feat.

This game had some other significance though: McCann also hit the first home run of his All-Star season. And Giolito soon would start his amazing run of starts; after his performance here in New York, he didn’t allow four runs or more in a game until June 19. It was also Nate Jones’ lone save of the year, and possibly the last one of his career. So as Jones and Alonso had their last gasps, Eloy, Giolito, and McCann took this game in stride for the rest of the way. (Darren Black)

April 17: Royals 4, White Sox 3 

Although the South Siders lost the game, the spark that came from Tim Anderson’s notorious bat flip was a monumental victory. After he crushed a 3-2 pitch to left field, TA7 gave the White Sox an early 2-0 home lead in the fourth inning against the Royals. However, Brad Keller — who threw that fateful pitch — went on to hit Anderson in his next at-bat. As a result, the benches cleared; unexpectedly, TA was ejected from the game, as a bystander to the brawl. The consequence of the one-game suspension that followed the ejection? The initiation of the “Let the Kids Play” movement, where Tim was supported by *most* of MLB. This bat flip created an unexplainable energy for the Sox, Tim coined STICK TALK, and the bat flips never stopped coming. Here’s to many more! (Ashley Sanders)

April 26: White Sox 12, Tigers 11

Things were looking grim for the White Sox, as they fell into a large deficit early on. The Tigers teed off on White Sox starter Carlos Rodón, who allowed eight runs (all earned) in only three-plus innings. When Rodón departed, the White Sox trailed 8-1, with no outs in the top of the fourth. After a solo homer by Jacoby Jones, the Tigers led 9-2 in the fifth, and the White Sox had a 2% win probability. But the White Sox clawed their way back into it by scoring two in the fifth and five in the sixth to reduce the deficit to 9-8. The White Sox took their first lead of the game on a bizarre two-run single by José Abreu, which would have been a three-run homer if Abreu did not pass Tim Anderson on the basepath. After the Tigers rallied to tie it back up 11-11, the White Sox finally prevailed in the bottom of the ninth in dramatic fashion. Anderson, the center of attention after his bat flip incident the previous week, wrapped it up with a walk-off home run. (Joe Resis)

May 23: White Sox 4, Astros 0

Two words: Lucas Giolito. This four-hit gem cemented Giolito’s Player of the Month Award for May and, arguably more importantly, undying love from certain Sox fans (ahem). It capped off a four-game streak in which Gio gave up a total of 14 hits and two runs. That he did it against a Houston team that was 33-18 at the time was extra gratifying. And all of the other players we hope to be showing our undying love for in the future provided the offense: Yoán with an RBI double, TA with an RBI single, and Eloy with a home run. What more could a Bitmoji — er, fan base — ask for? This wasn’t a fluke Charlie Tilson grand slam-win (which, while also extremely fun in the moment, does nothing to provide hope for the future). When we think about 2020 and beyond, this game will be our template. (Lurker Laura)

June 14: White Sox 10, Yankees 2

Decimation of the Yankees! We Sox fans may hate That Other Team in Town and have an unfavorite among division rivals, but everybody hates the Yankees, and on this magic day, the Sox crushed the Bronx Bombasts, 10-2. Lucas Giolito won his ninth straight, giving up one run in six innings. Eloy Jiménez had a career day, with two — count ’em, two — three-run homers. Amazingly, the Sox walked four times (normally the norm for a fortnight) and struck out only five (damn near the norm for an inning). The win lifted the White Sox record to 34-34, the first time at the magic .500 mark since the blizzards of early April. And did I mention it was against the Damn Yankees? (Leigh Allan)

July 3: White Sox 9, Tigers 6 (12 innings)

My favorite White Sox game in 2019 was on July 3, in the second game of a doubleheader vs. Detroit. It was the Yoán Moncada game, but there were other notable, fun things about it too. Ryan Cordell had the best game he will ever have in major league baseball. (I don’t have a crystal ball, but I’m confident that he won’t top two dingers, and two great catches in center field, but who knows? I’ve been wrong before.) And José Abreu had an awesome, walk-off three-run dinger to end the game. But make no mistake, this is the game where Yoyo arrived. One of Moncada’s positive developments in 2019 was his improvement as a right-handed hitter, and in the first inning, he hit one of his most impressive home runs from that side of the plate that I’ve seen. He also tied the game with a sac fly in the bottom of the seventh. Then in the bottom of the ninth, Yoán entered the pantheon of Impressive Homers I’ve Seen in Person with an absolute blast to right center to tie the game.

Now, I saw Frank Thomas hit one over all the seats in left-center, one-hopping into the men’s room off of Johan Santana in 2003. I saw prime-roids Barry Bonds hit a ball out of the atmosphere, that reentered with icicles, that landed on the concourse in center in the early 2000s. But Yoyo’s ninth-inning blast was right there with ’em. Also, to put a cherry on top, in the top of the 10th, John Hicks untied a 5-5 game with a single to left. Eloy made a bad throw to the infield, and Yoyo made a ridiculous cutoff and throw to third to stop the bleeding and end the inning. It was a heads-up, athletic play, and it set the stage for José to be the walk-off hero. Fun game! (Guitar Sox)

August 21: White Sox 4, Twins 0

Everyone can agree that 2018 was a rough year for Lucas Giolito, so I’m not going to bother rehashing the worst-to-ace transition and his new set of award nods. Rewind a couple of months from here, Giolito threw a set of compete games in May and then progressively showcased the reasons why the Nationals drafted him immediately out of high school. There’s always those naysayers, though, and the moment he faltered just a little bit, the cries of “OH NO, 2018 GIOLITO! HE BLOWS IT UNDER PRESSURE” returned. This last complete game in Minnesota effectively silenced it. The White Sox were long out of the possibility of a Wild Card as they limped towards season’s end, but no one told Giolito. He came out and killed it — throwing his final complete game of 2019 against the AL Central leaders. Did Minnesota figure him out a little, in time for his next start? Yes — it’s called scouting reports. But that final complete game gave a good hard look at what we should see for years to come from Giolito and (hopefully) the pair of Giolito and McCann. (ColleenS)

September 5: White Sox 7, Cleveland 1

ReyLo’s one-hit wonder was easily my favorite game to watch. López pitched a complete game one-hitter, Danny Mendick got his first big league hit, Welington Castillo didn’t strike out once, and even Yolmer got a hit. The team looked like a real, grown-up, professional baseball team, and by not needing the bullpen, there was no opportunity for some crappy reliever to blow the game. The White Sox executed a perfect bunt, moved runners along instead of their usual M.O. of stranding them at second and third, beat up on a division rival and ACTUALLY WON A GAME. More like this, please. (LWilz)


[poll id=”11″]

 

 

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly (Part 1: The Good)

A season highlight: Moncada’s emergence as a force on both sides of the ball. (Clinton Cole/South Side Hit Pen)


This is the first of a three-part series throughout the month of October about the Chicago White Sox 2019 season, starting with the good. Things will get scarier as the series goes on, so hold on to your hats, and get ready for a wild ride!


Yoán Moncada

The young man showed the first signs of superstardom in 2019. With a newfound aggressive approach at the plate, Yoyo added 80 points to his batting average. He had a .315/.367/.548 slash line, good for a robust .915 OPS. Yoyo had 25 dingers, and 75 RBIs. While his walk percentage dropped by 3% from 2018 to 2019, his strikeout percentage dropped by 6%, making it a good tradeoff. If advanced stats are more your speed, Yoyo’s hard-hit percentage rose by 2.4%, his percentage of home runs per fly ball rose 8.5%, and his WRC+ rose by 44 points to a stout 141! His fWAR finished at 5.6, while his bWAR was still an impressive 4.6, as FanGraphs seemed to like his defense at third base a little better than Baseball-Reference.

Other than a couple hiccups with his throws to first early in the season, Yoyo passed the eye test at his new position at third with flying colors. He displayed good hands, quick feet, and more than enough arm at the position, especially on the run. Moncada is just an ultra-smooth athlete. He makes everything look easy, and could man almost any position on the diamond with grace, if the Sox did decide to bring in a certain free agent third baseman, cough cough Rendon cough. Excuse me! AAhhhheemmmmm!

Moving forward, Moncada could benefit offensively from hitting the ball in the air more often, just like almost the everyone on the team. Ground balls are less valuable than fly balls, because fly balls can become home runs, simple! And when you have power like this:

and this

and this

Image result for neighbors airbag gif
(I was at that last game, and I left my seat like this)

you should hit the ball in the air early and often. Yoyo could also improve his overall offense by raising his walk rate just a little bit. He did get slightly overagressive swinging at pitches that weren’t strikes in 2019, but with time and more experience, Moncada could really perfect his plate discipline.


Lucas Giolito

Lucas Giolito had one of the most unlikely turnarounds in MLB history from 2018 to 2019. After reworking his arms lot and balance throughout his delivery, LG looked again like the No.1 prospect and potential ace he once was. He posted a 14-9 record in 29 starts, with a 3.41 ERA in 176.2 innings, as he was sidelined his last couple of starts with an oblique injury.

Because of the new arm slot, LG was able to add an element of deception to his pitches, making them look like something less than high definition to the hitters. The deception made LG’s fastball/changeup combination particularly lethal. The improvement Giolito made with his balance afforded him the ability to command his pitches at a high level, and added 2 mph to his four-seam fastball on average, to go along with the deception.

The changes LG made to his pitch repertoire is notable. He threw his four-seam fastball 54.9% of the time, up over 15% from 2018, and he threw his changeup 26.5 of the time, up 11% from 2018. LG essentially took the sinker out of his repertoire, and only threw his curveball 4.2% of the time, down 6% from 2018. All of the changeS in his repertoire made LG essentially a three-pitch pitcher. He featured the four-seamer, change, and slider on 95% of his pitches.

The biggest difference for the 2019 version of LG is he missed bats, striking out 32.3% of hitters, up 16% (!!!), and his walk rate fell to 8.1%, down from 11.6.

See how LG sends these hitters back to the dugout without supper using mostly fastball/change/slider combinations? Also notice that when he sends them back to the dugout, they aren’t hitting bombs out of the atmosphere! Maybe he’s figured out the secret of pitching.

Can LG duplicate his 2019 season or better? I’d say he can, and sky’s the limit if he can add more velocity and rediscover the curve as a change- of-pace pitch. Look for an elite, top-of-the-rotation starter going forward, health willing.


Honorable Mentions

Tim Anderson
Timmy went out and won himself a batting title in 2019. He slashed .335/.357/.508 with 18 dingers, and has insane athleticism, bat-to-ball skills, and flair to spare. The fact that Timmy didn’t start playing baseball until his junior year of high school is incredible, and he should keep getting better. However, he has to improve his approach at the plate. Not because I want to see him walk 75 times, but because I want him to force pitchers to challenge him with more fastballs. He has such a quick bat that improving his selection of pitches to swing at with help him do far more damage at the plate. There’s 25- or possibly 30-dinger power in that swing. Just an uptick in discipline can get him there, and will help him maintain a high batting average year-in and year-out. The defense has to get more consistent. Again, Anderson’s athleticism is insane, and he has more than enough for short, but he has to tighten up his footwork. He took a step back from his 2018 season defensively, and if it doesn’t get better in the next year or so, a move to the outfield is a possibility.

Eloy Jiménez
Eloy showed off his light-tower power, effortlessly hitting baseballs in the G spot where few tread, but only after a slow start at the plate. He saw sliders down and away early and often this year, and had a hard time adjusting to the pitch sequencing. But like talented hitters often do he adjusted, waiting for and feasting on fastballs he could handle along with hanging breaking balls. The adjustments Jiménez made throughout the year allowed him to smash 31 dingers, and he has the type of power to regularly hit 40 to 50 if he lifts the ball in the air more often. His defense was really bad in left, and that will only get marginally better, but there is a better fielder in there with more reps. (It’s almost like he would’ve been better off if he had a couple months to make these adjustments in the big leagues in 2018, but I digress.) Jiménez will always be a bat-first player, and could end up as a DH a couple of years down the line. But make no mistake, the bat will be elite for years to come.

José Abreu
It’s just hard not to love this guy. Abreu just loves playing for the White Sox, he’s a great teammate, and he cares. José won the RBI title with 123 in 2019, a career high, and has been the best run producer for the White Sox over the last six seasons. This year, however, José was inconsistent at the plate. Some of the reason for the high RBI totals are because he finally had help, in Moncada and Anderson being on base with speed to spare. Abreu was still above-average in 2019, but not quite an elite hitter because he got so swing-happy, as DJ likes to say during the radio broadcasts. It seemed he was RBI hunting, and got himself out too often when pitchers decided they wouldn’t let Abreu beat them. José turned it up with men on base, slashing .310/.348/.539, with 16 dingers and 106 RBIs. But he didn’t produce like a good hitter with the bases empty, where he slashed .259/.314/.470 with a still-respectable 17 dingers. It would behoove José to have a slightly less aggressive approach at the plate, and let his teammates pick him up when pitchers decide to pitch around him. José has always struggled at first base, and going forward if/when the Sox resign him, all parties will be better off if he spends the majority of his time at DH. Going into Abreu’s age 33 season, there’s still some good baseball left in the tank. It would be great the Sox can put a competitive team around José. We shall see.

Alex Colomé-Aaron Bummer
Much like Colomé’s cutter and Bummer’s sinker, these back-of-the-bullpen pitchers for the White Sox zigged in 2019, while the rest of the league zagged. The league has been emphasizing rising four-seam fastballs and missing bats, while Colomé and Bummer have been pitching to contact with good results. Colomé was 4-5 with a 2.80 ERA, while Bummer had no record, and a 2.13 ERA. While both pitchers pitched into some good luck with FIPs substantially higher than their ERAs, they are still useful bullpen pieces. The pair only walked 47 hitters combined in 128.2 innings, which is what you want from your bullpen. The Sox will still want to find a few relievers who get K’s, but Colomé and Bummer are a nice start (no pun intended), going into the 2020 season.