MLB: Chicago White Sox at Boston Red Sox

South Side Morning 5: Some pitchers are good, some pitchers are bad

1. Carlos Rodon struggled out of the gate when he returned from the injury that snatched half a season from him. Recently, however, he’s performed at a level much closer to the lofty expectations laid out before him. On Friday he went 7 2/3 innings without walking a single batter. He also allowed just two runs while striking out 11. The stuff has certainly not been an issue for Rodon despite returning from an arm injury. Each of his pitches is within one-half mph of his 2016 velocity. He’s also produced a 11.6 percent swinging strike rate and 30 percent strikeout rate. The command and control are still a concern, as they have been since he first donned a White Sox uniform. That makes the long outing without a walk even more special. If he can continue to get whiffs while putting pitches in the strike zone, he will certainly see success.

2. Miguel Gonzalez, James Shields, and Mike Pelfrey were the other three pitchers to go against the Red Sox over the weekend. They pitched just about as badly as Rodon did well. Gonzalez lasted just 1 2/3 innings while giving up seven earned runs. Shields and Pelfrey both spent more time looking over their shoulder at home runs than delivering to the plate. A lot of this is to be expected. The White Sox aren’t good, and being good isn’t their current intent. Gonzalez’s start was clearly not one that is ever desired, but there were positives to be found in the starts made by both Shields and Pelfrey. Shields was able to scrape by six innings while Pelfrey was just a single out away from doing the same. With a bullpen that’s been emptied through trades often taking on the burden of finishing games in which the starter leaves far too early, those types of outings are incredibly important. The bullpen was beleaguered in the first game of the series because of Gonzalez’ short start, but Shields and Pelfrey were able to help chip in to keeping the arms in the pen well-rested.

3. Zack Collins has been the subject of much debate as part of a loaded White Sox farm system. The results have been bad, but the tools he showed in his time at Miami were good enough to make him Chicago’s first round pick a little over a year ago. Being an older player stuck in High-A is never a great sign, especially when he’s struggling mightily to hit the ball. One of the weaknesses that has been pointed out in his game since draft day is the existence of a hitch in his swing. The Athletic’s James Fegan recently saw him in North Carolina and received some answers to questions about his poor season. Collins recognizes his failures, but he refuses to put the blame on anything other than his own poor play. That kind of maturity is important in a player that has struggled early in his pro career. The hope is that he figures things out in 2018, putting himself back among the best White Sox prospects.

4. Rick Hahn spoke at Saber Seminar, an annual baseball analytics conference in Boston, this weekend. He provided a Q&A for those in attendance and unsurprisingly received questions about when Reynaldo Lopez would make his way to Chicago. His response was vague but blunt enough to draw a real conclusion.

It certainly seems like Lopez will be making his first White Sox start on Friday. He pitched on Sunday, having his worst start in recent weeks. It wasn’t a complete disaster, but he did allow four earned runs on four hits and three walks in five innings pitched. The good news is that he struck out nine. His stuff is certainly ready for the big leagues, but the question remains about whether he can control the ball well enough to maintain a starting role. It looks like Lopez will get two months in the big leagues to prove that he can. At the very least, it gives White Sox fans something to look forward to and watch as this team tumbles even lower in the standings.

5. Yoan Moncada hasn’t had an earth-shattering start to his White Sox career, but that doesn’t make him a bust either. Things have started to turn around, however, in the trip to Boston. He registered hits in five of his 17 plate appearances and also drew three walks. He still isn’t quite at the level that is expected, but he’s certainly showing a good process. When he adjusts to major league pitching and becomes more aggressive, he should see more success. It’s far too early to be worried about the young second baseman.

Lead Photo Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

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