1. The White Sox spent the weekend in lovely Kansas City, stewing in triple-digit weather as they got swept by the Royals. Those three losses make it nine in a row for a White Sox team that truly looks like it’s tanking. Just as was predicted at the start of the season, the team wouldn’t lose all that many games when they still held onto pieces like Jose Quintana, Todd Frazier, and David Robertson. That mostly held up. What was also predicted at the start of the season was that the White Sox would truly look like a tanking team when each of those players was sent packing at or before the deadline. That has also held up. The White Sox lost two crucial members of their bullpen in a trade that was entirely a good move. The downside is that they have struggled mightily without them. The last time the White Sox won a game it was started by Quintana and saved by Robertson.
2. The White Sox pitching staff has, predictably, become much worse since the departures of Quintana, Robertson, and Tommy Kahnle. Those three were arguably the best three pitchers on the roster, so it’s natural that their departure would have lasting impacts on the team they left behind. Quintana has only been gone from the team for 10 days now, but since his departure the longest outing by a White Sox starter has been six innings. Miguel Gonzalez has done it once, and James Shields has done it once.
Things are bound to get even uglier when fatigue sets in for both the rotation and the bullpen. Gonzalez has been unimpressive, Shields has shown flashes of his poor 2016 self, and Carlos Rodon has battled control issues since arriving back in Chicago. That’s going to be taxing for the bullpen, which just lost two of the relievers they leaned on the heaviest. Robertson and Kahnle threw more pitches for the White Sox than everyone but Chris Beck, Anthony Swarzak, and Dan Jennings. Tyler Clippard was supposed to alleviate some of that burden, but he’s thrown just one-third of an inning in two games while allowing three hits and an earned run. The team will have to get creative with how they handle the remainder of the innings needed in 2017 while keeping in mind that they don’t want to burn any of the young arms.
3. One young arm that could be on his way to Chicago in the near future is Reynaldo Lopez. While his future as a starter still hangs in the balance, he’s already shown an ability to make some starts at the big league level (with Washington in 2016) and is having a fine season in Charlotte. In his last nine starts, he’s posted an ERA of 3.23, which includes one stinker of a game where he allowed six earned runs and four walks. In those last nine starts he’s walked more than two batters just that one time while striking out six or more five times, including two different outings with double digit strikeouts. He’s looked really good, which should be a sign that the White Sox are ready to give him the call. They’re right to be patient, of course, but he seems like a pitcher that is ready to make that next step. It may not be before his next start, but it seems like his time in Charlotte is coming to a close.
4. Another prospect who has been lighting it up as of late is newly acquired Eloy Jimenez. On Sunday he went 5-for-6 with two doubles and a home run. He’s had just 31 at-bats with the Dash, but he’s managed to hit seven extra base hits. His 19.7 percent strikeout rate this season indicates that he’s not whiffing or getting fooled all that often. In fact, his 10.8 percent walk rate seems to point toward some excellent discipline at the plate. This is all scouting the stat line, of course, but it’s certainly not a bad thing to see a top 10 prospect getting the desired results. It seems like it’s only a matter of time before he departs the crowded outfield of Winston-Salem for the bright, shiny Double-A ballpark in Birmingham.
5. Zack Collins is a prospect with less desirable results than Lopez or Jimenez. Despite being drafted as a bat-first prospect, Collins has stalled in High-A, a level that a player his age should have no problem with. There is of course the notion that catching prospects develop at different paces with different parts of their game taking a back seat at different times, which the lovely James Fegan mentioned in his excellent article about Collins. Even being generous towards Collins in that regard, the failure to hit at such a low level is a concern. If he’s unable to put things together the White Sox could have a failed pick at the top of the draft on their hands. The good news, however, is that the team has built enough prospect depth to withstand such a thing. It is also far too early to give up on a player like Collins, but the clock keeps ticking and he does keep getting older with each passing second. The concern is there, but the alarm bells aren’t quite ringing yet.
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