South Side Morning 5: Life atop the AL Central

1. MLB careers are fickle and end brutally, and when they don’t, they can linger and stagger along as empty shells like post-injury John Danks. Point being, it’s nice to have new affirmation in a new season that everything still works; that Jose Quintana‘s combination of low-90s heat and average or better stuff continues to play up due to smarts and command. He’s a great complete package, but without a standout tool, any alterations to the recipe could spell trouble.

After Tuesday, all’s clear on that front. Quintana spent the first two innings dotting the edges of the strike zone, but actually spent much of the night dodging trouble due to uncharacteristic struggles to keep his heater down or not missing in far enough with it when he tried to go inside to RHBs. That can be forgiven when he’s spinning some of the best curveballs of his career and striking out seven over five and two-thirds innings.

He likely could have finished the sixth inning at a minimum, but Robin Ventura’s pull of Quintana with a runner in scoring position in the sixth was pretty inspired, and showed a focus on something other than squeezing out every iota of production from the starters.

2. Despite collecting his first hit in a White Sox uniform earlier in the night, Todd Frazier was still doing a solid job convincing the world that he had never laid eyes on a curveball in his life. A day after the otherwise hopeless looking Rich Hill struck him out twice, Frazier looked equally baffled and out of his shoes golfing away at Chris Bassitt‘s curve, until he finally revealed a method to his madness in the top of the fifth.

Frazier’s swing comes to a near-stop, because he’s initially out in front of the pitch, before he scoops and launches a ball at his knees way out of the hitter-proof Oakland Coliseum. It’s weird to say that kind of power has been missing from the Sox lineup outside of Jose Abreu, but that kind of usable power, to pose a threat on pitches other than obviously huge mistakes, has been missing from the Sox lineup outside of Jose Abreu.

3. Dan Hayes reports that Robin Ventura is willing to try Nate Jones as closer on occasion this year.


He means in terms of having Jones be the next reliever up when David Robertson needs a night off, which naturally happens over the course of the year.


But Ventura has been notoriously rigid on this matter in the past. He’s the guy who once had Addison Reed save six games in a row–for a 99-loss team. This is a newfound level of flexibility…if he follows through.


Everyone got a good look at Nate Jones not being anywhere close with his command Tuesday night, which should momentarily chill the call for him to ascend even higher. The guy can touch 100 mph and throw a wipeout 92 mph slider, so obviously his best work is very good, but the consistency with spotting his pitches and being effective is nowhere close to Robertson’s. They are in the correct order in the bullpen hierarchy at this point.

4. The video boards that the White Sox debuted at U.S. Cellular Field Tuesday may be a large public investment from a hopelessly bankrupt state, but they certainly look nice! $7 million buys some laaaaaarge screens. The screens will definitely enhance the in-game experience and likely enable game ops to institute new video packages, and are an upgrade by default since the old screens were approaching just being functionally broken.

The new arrangement to put the retired numbers tucked away on the side wall in the right field concourse draws more superficial criticism. This just is not sufficient visibility for this honor, especially for a franchise that is as reverent to its own history as this one. The insistence on taking the display off the outfield wall never made sense, and the prioritizing of ads over honoring treasured players gets hard to ignore when it reaches this scale.

5. There’s nothing I particularly wanted to say about the few seconds of video of Adam Eaton and Jimmy Rollins passing each other the dugout that looked less than friendly, that Tom Fornelli doesn’t address on his blog. They certainly don’t look like best friends in that one moment, but combined with Eaton’s presence in the high-five line after Rollins’ go-ahead home run, it doesn’t seem like enough to draw any conclusions on. Eaton has certainly done his share to invite this level of scrutiny on his clubhouse behavior, however.

Big-time power from Rollins is more important at the moment–that ball wasn’t crushed, but it got out of Oakland Coliseum at night–because he needs hit his way into the lineup every day, and whatever power he has left is how he’ll distinguish himself.

Lead Photo Credit: Kelley L. Cox // USA Today Sports Images

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