1. The big news on Tuesday had nothing to do with the White Sox loss to the Cubs. It was, instead, a move they made following that game. They sent Anthony Swarzak to the Brewers for Ryan Cordell. Turning Swarzak into anything is a win for the White Sox, even though Cordell doesn’t seem like he has a future of anything more than a fourth outfielder that has played a little third base. Editor-in-chief Collin Whitchurch wrote up the trade in slightly more detail, despite it being relatively minor on the Chicago side of the deal. The departure of Swarzak leaves just Melky Cabrera has players yet to be moved as part of the big White Sox sell-off of 2017. Cabrera likely won’t fetch much, but even some organizational depth is better than nothing at all. Because of the stagnant market for corner outfielders, however, he may not be on the move until the waiver deadline in August.
2. The loss to the Cubs Tuesday afternoon wasn’t the headlining news of the day, but it did bear significance for the White Sox rebuild. That significance was in a puzzling outing for Carlos Rodon. The problem for Rodon is the same problem he’s had since he joined the team — he can’t find the strike zone. Or perhaps more precisely, he has no command. He has been able to find the strike zone at times in his career, but his finding of the strike zone has been paired with hitters feasting on fastballs in the zone. Not ideal.
On Tuesday Rodon struggled to command, or even control, his pitches the same way he’s struggled to do so in each of his starts this season. That’s still a very limited sample size, but some concern is warranted. The good news is that Rodon managed to strike out 11 batters while pitching just four innings. He also walked three batters, allowed seven hits, and gave up four earned runs. His inability to tap into his incredible potential has been extremely frustrating for both the White Sox and their fans. Some patience is required, however. Rodon is coming off an arm injury that knocked him out for half the season. There’s bound to be some rust there. The strikeouts in Tuesday’s game are a good sign that he’s beginning to shake that off but, like always, the command has to come. The good news is that the White Sox aren’t trying to win anything as they witness Rodon’s growing pains, so for now he can struggle in the big leagues and find his way well before the next competitive White Sox roster arises.
3. Down on the farm, two of the top pitching prospects took the mound on Tuesday. Lucas Giolito had a fine night in Charlotte, going seven innings with no earned runs. He allowed four hits while walking three, but he struck out six. Jeff Long of the BP prospect team got a good look at him two weeks ago and remarked that, “This new Giolito is still very, very good. He’s just not a dominant stuff guy anymore, showing elite pitchability and getting outs by outsmarting hitters rather than overpowering them.” Alec Hansen, another darling of the BP prospect staff, also pitched Tuesday. He went six innings while giving up two earned runs on two hits. He did walk three batters, but he struck out seven. Hansen is relatively new to the level, so that’s certainly a good performance. There’s no rush, but the White Sox would surely like to see a college arm make his way past A-ball by 2018. He looks in line to do so.
4. Avisail Garcia’s first half of 2017 is well-documented. He got in shape, improved his plate discipline, and became an All-Star. With a little boost from a .371 BABIP, he posted a .310 average with an .850 OPS. His 125 wRC+ made it seem like he had become a legitimate weapon. In the past week he has gone 3-for-19 with four strikeouts and one walk. That’s a small sample size and certainly something he can crawl out of, but it does appear as though the BABIP dragon is beginning to breathe a little fire on Garcia. His BABIP in the second half (small sample!) is down to .333, which is a reasonable place for a player like Garcia if he continues to show some speed down the line and hit the ball hard. Maybe it’s the cynic in me expecting the bad Garcia to return, but the cracks in his dream season are already starting to show.
5. A player who is even more difficult to figure out than Garcia is Matt Davidson. Co-editor-in-chief Nick Schaefer wrote about the mystifying Davidson last month, and not much has changed. It is worth noting, however, that he’s striking out at a 39.0 percent rate while still managing to post an above average 103 wRC+. This is reminiscent of Todd Frazier’s 40 dinger season a year ago where he looked abysmal aside from the times the ball flew over the outfield wall. What is even more impressive than Frazier’s season is that Davidson is doing it not as a three true outcome player. He’s striking out far more than Frazier did and walking at just a 4.8 percent clip. Even the .255 ISO is good but not all that great. Hitting 19 home runs in fewer than 300 plate appearances, however, remains an impressive feat that has allowed him to find success. Where the team goes with him in the future is a decision to be made down the road when the major league roster starts to fill. For now, they can afford to play a mediocre to bad defensive player at third who strikes out almost half the time but still clobbers dingers.
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