1. The White Sox dropped 2 of 3 from the Indians over the weekend, going from the fourth inning of Wednesday’s loss to the Yankees to the first inning of Sunday’s win without scoring a run in the process. The results themselves are difficult to get worked up about given the team’s current standing as firmly in the rebuilding lane, as well as the Indians’ likely being one of the top teams in the American League, but do serve as a stark reminder of the futility we will continue to witness for the foreseeable future. This will be far from the last time the White Sox go through a stretch of poor play, but even as the aesthetics of viewing the team on a day-to-day basis are unsightly, there are aspects of these games, both good and bad, worth examining further.
2. James Shields is on the disabled list because of a strained right lat, and was replaced in the rotation, at least for Saturday’s 7-0 loss to Cleveland, by veteran Mike Pelfrey. The White Sox rotation depth, despite the results not being particularly relevant, was already a source of concern entering the season, and has been magnified after Carlos Rodon’s injury — his return date is still uncertain — and now Shields’s. The sixth, seventh, and eighth options for a team’s rotation are unlikely to feature much promise, even for contenders, but counting on the likes of Pelfrey and Dylan Covey to eat innings in their stead is an experiment with a very short expiration date. What’s more, time Rodon isn’t able to progress from a development standpoint or Shields isn’t able to advance his trade value — as minute as it may be — is not time well spent.
3. The White Sox are striking out at an extremely high rate. They struck out 34 times during the three games, including 15 times in Sunday’s win, and have four regulars with strikeout rates north of 30 percent in Matt Davidson (47.2), Cody Asche (36.8), Jacob May (36.1), and Tyler Saladino (31.6). This is likely escalated during their last three games in which they faced Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, and Danny Salazar, all of whom posted K/9 rates above 9.0 a season ago.
The fact that three of those four are fringe major leaguers and the fourth (Saladino) has the highest walk rate on the team among guys who have gotten regular playing time doesn’t make this particularly troubling. But while the numbers, both good and bad, are still not yet to the point where they’re ready stabilize, the strikeout trends of the likes of potential trade targets Jose Abreu (21.7 percent, up from 18), Todd Frazier (21.4 percent, still high but down from 24.5), or hopeful cornerstones like Tim Anderson (also still high but down from 27.1 percent to 24.6) are worth keeping an eye on.
4. Speaking of Abreu and Anderson, two players off to the more notable cold starts this season, neither is quite to the point of breaking out but there are signs of progress. Anderson has hit in five of the last six games and Sunday was his first multi-hit game of the season, while Abreu is 8-for-13 over his last four games, with Sunday’s two-hit game and Thursday’s three-hit, two-double game sandwiched around a pair of 0-fers.
Frazier, on the other hand, went 1-for-10 in his first three games back from illness, and while the sample for him is particularly small — he has about half of the plate appearances thus far as someone who’s played the entire season — the way he finished 2016 coupled with his age and profile make his situation worth monitoring a bit more closely.
5. Avisail Garcia is 1-for-12 in his last 14 plate appearances. Frank wrote about his likely regression last week, and while he did have two walks Thursday and a hard-hit double Sunday, his numbers taking a deep dive is surely still coming.
Still, while Garcia’s propensity to flail at pitches out of the strike zone is likely not going away, signs of improvement are there. Garcia entered the season as probably the least interesting hitter in the White Sox lineup, and in less than a month has become someone whose progress is worth watching. That, in it self, is an accomplishment.
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