1. Jose Quintana’s early season struggles are firmly in the past after Tuesday’s gem in a 6-0 win over the Royals. He’s now thrown 14 innings in his last two starts, allowing one earned run and four walks while striking out 17.
“But it’s just the Royals” you say tauntingly, as you’ve astutely observed that each of Quintana’s last two outings have come against the Royals, who have scored just 69 runs in their 25 games this season (2.76 runs per game). This is true and the Royals are bad, but what ailed Quintana during his first few starts of the season was a lack of fastball command, and in each of the last two starts, as well as the start before that against Cleveland, he once again demonstrated his ability to place his fastball all over the zone, keeping hitters guessing with heat that sat firmly in the 92-93 mph range.
Quintana’s ability to adapt and find success in different circumstances is impressive. In last last start against the Royals, he struck out 10, generating 16 swings and misses, using his curveball as an out pitch. On Tuesday, that number shrunk to eight as he pitched to contact, but the Royals were never able to barrel anything up.
2. The White Sox went with the all-Garcia outfield once again on Monday after, as expected, they called up Willy Garcia to replace the demoted Jacob May. Garcia (the one who was just promoted) was tearing the cover off the ball at Triple-A through the first month of the season, sporting a .923 OPS with four home runs in 81 plate appearances. For someone who has been in an MLB organization since 2010 (when he was 17), this is a well-earned opportunity, although one he might not be getting if he were with a franchise with bigger aspirations in 2017. Whether he can truly handle center field in a pinch is yet to be determined, but given Rick Renteria’s propensity to shuffle around the lineup on a pretty regular basis, even if he can’t he should be afforded plenty of opportunities at the plate in both Avisail Garcia’s and Melky Cabrera’s stead on days off or when they’re playing DH.
“His lat that might be a little bit of a — it’s not a green so we’re going to kind of slow him down,” Renteria said. “He’s been throwing every other day, and we’re going to kind of shut that down a little bit and let that calm down and then we’ll proceed after that.”
Shields has been out with a lat strain since April 21 and there doesn’t seem to be a timetable for his return. Given how his 2016 struggles, the fact that he showed signs of life early on this year, and the fact that we’re stuck watching Mike Pelfrey (making his third start on Wednesday), the setback is unfortunate.
4. Anthony Swarzak hadn’t pitched since Saturday so was given the ninth inning on Tuesday with Quintana at 102 pitches and the game out of reach. He struck out one and didn’t allow a baserunner, and is now un-scored upon in 10 outings this season, striking out 15 and walking just one in 13.1 innings.
The White Sox bullpen entered the season as one of the team’s few strengths, and that was before Swarzak and Tommy Kahnle turned out to be flame-throwing dragons. I never expected to be one thinking things like “why is Swarzak being wasted when the game is out of reach?” at any point in my life let along one month after he made the 25-man roster. But … well, here we are.
5. We are about six weeks away from the MLB Draft and the folks at MLB Pipeline came out with their first mock draft of the season. Analysts Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo had the White Sox selecting prep lefty D.L. Hall and Florida right-hander Alex Faedo, respectively, with the No. 11 pick in the first round. Mock drafts are fun to follow and provide at least some insight into where players are expected to go, but it’s likely we’ll hear quite a few more names linked to the White Sox as the draft draws nears. The Ringer’s Michael Baumann discusses some of the college players worth watching in Monday’s episode of The Catbird Speaks.
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