MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Chicago White Sox

South Side Morning 5: Carlos Rodon is back in Chicago

1. After making a single rehab start in Winston-Salem and another three in Charlotte, Carlos Rodon has made his way to Chicago with the intention of being activated for the first time this season. None of his four starts in the minors were overly impressive in terms of results, but that is rarely the case in rehab assignments. Rodon’s seven strikeouts and 90-plus pitches in his final rehab start matched up with a schedule that was likely devised long before Rodon even stepped on the rubber in a Knights uniform. The specifics of when Rodon will take the mound are yet to be disclosed, but we do know that it will happen this week.

The expectations for Rodon should be tempered. He’s had a wildly untraditional start to the season, which could naturally have an effect on his performance. With the first two seasons of his career being tumultuous it would be silly to expect him to immediately step into a top of the rotation role. The best thing Rodon can provide right now is innings. As Collin Whitchurch noted last week, the White Sox have been incredibly poor at getting starters to stretch beyond the fifth inning. If Rodon can simply do that while attempting to hone command for the first time in his career, the White Sox pitching staff will breathe a much needed sigh of relief and perhaps not have their arms all fall off.

2. The White Sox defense has somewhat notably been good in some aspects while failing at others. A couple weeks ago they led the league in BABIP allowed. They have since fallen all the way to tied for third with a .283 average on those balls in play. Some of that is sneaky good talent, but it’s probably mostly do to the White Sox tendency to shift. They’re fourth in the league in batters faced with any sort of shift on.

An area of the defense that hasn’t been discussed is how often the outfielders have thrown out baserunners. The White Sox outfield ranks third in baseball in outfield assists. While Avisail Garcia was lauded for his arm as a prospect and continues to have that reputation and Melky Cabrera is sneakily good in the area, it’s a bit surprising that this particular White Sox defense would excel in outfield assists. A lot goes into throwing a runner out, of course. It depends on the runner’s aggression, where the ball is hit, the speed of the runner, and the game situation. Those are a lot of unpredictable variables. What is known is that the White Sox have been good at it, which has certainly helped prevent runs for a defense that looked shaky entering the season.

3. The White Sox addition of Alen Hanson was a typical rebuilding team move. Hanson was at one point a Top 100 prospect who failed to live up to those expectations. A change of scenery has possibly affected his play in a positive direction. It’s a teeny tiny sample, but Hanson is hitting .333/.385/.423 with a home run. He’s managed to fit right into the top of the order despite his limited time in the big leagues as well. If he could remain even an average player at the plate, the White Sox will have found a nice diamond in the rough in just their first year rebuilding.

4. Jose Quintana‘s season has been heavily discussed because of his inadequacy along with the failure of the Chicago front office to move him before some sort of decline hit. What could erase all of that is an excellent second half of the season that reaffirms what most teams and fans already knew about Quintana: he’s good. His start on Thursday was a step in the right direction. He went nearly seven innings without giving up a single run. More importantly, he had nine strikeouts with no walks.

5. The AL East is highly competitive this season, because of course it is — it’s the AL East. One point of weakness among the teams at the top, mainly the Yankees and Red Sox, is a gaping whole at third base. Each of those two teams had a young option in their minor league system that could have been slotted in if needed. However, Gleyber Torres of the Yankees just tore his UCL and Rafael Devers of the Red Sox doesn’t appear to be ready for the promotion. That puts both teams in excellent position to make a trade for a rental at the hot corner.

It just so happens that the White Sox have one of those players. Todd Frazier hasn’t been overly impressive with his .209/.314/.418, 12 home run, and 93 wRC+ line. Necessity, combined with a limited number of options at the position, could be advantageous for Chicago. Mike Moustakas and Eduardo Nunez may provide equal or better options, but the White Sox should be able to unload Frazier for something. Jon Heyman, however, reported that Chicago would have to practically give him away to move him. If a bidding war arises in the AL East, though, the White Sox may be able to receive more value. They would likely have to be willing to pay a good portion of Frazier’s salary. What we know about the organization seems to hint that such a thing won’t happen, but they should ideally be willing to do so if it means they receive better young talent.

Lead photo credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

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