1. Opening Day in Chicago seemed hunky dory when the White Sox turned a 7-3 lead over to the expectantly reliable duo of Nate Jones and Joakim Soria. Then some time passed, too many Tigers crossed home plate, and next thing you knew the White Sox were 9-7 losers in 10 innings.
As much as the White Sox promise to be more entertaining, these things are going to happen. As I wrote Thursday, the construction of this bullpen was both admirable and reasonable. For one, the White Sox jettisoned David Robertson, Tommy Kahnle, Anthony Swarzak, Dan Jennings, and maybe even a few I’m forgetting in a series of trades last summer. For two, given the current window of non-competitiveness, spending more than necessary for a more talented bullpen would be illogical.
What we’re left with is a mixed bag of sorts. Despite Thursday’s events, Jones and Soria represent the two best options, regardless of how they’re deployed. Beyond those two, there’s an assortment of veteran castoffs (Danny Farquhar, Hector Santiago, Luis Avilan), young, unproven talents (Aaron Bummer), and guys trying to prove they belong at the major league level (Greg Infante, Juan Minaya).
There’s enough talent throughout, particularly at the back end, for the White Sox to feign competence more often than not. But it’s not impenetrable, so things like Thursday are going to happen.
2. HAD the White Sox closed out Thursday’s win, the story would have been an impressive offensive performance by an assemblage of less-than-proven regulars. Yolmer Sanchez went 3-for-5 with a pair of triples, Matt Davidson had a rare two-hit performance where neither ball left the premises, and both he and Tim Anderson walked twice. Anderson stole his fourth base of the season, and the Garcias, Avisail and Leury had two hits each.
The weather outside was not ripe for run scoring, and after several dinger-fueled performances to open the season, the White Sox stringing together multiple hits was … different. The competition wasn’t exactly menacing — Jordan Zimmermann was hittable, to say the least. But the likes of Sanchez, Davidson, and Anderson hitting as they have in the season’s opening week is better than them not.
3. Speaking of Zimmermann, Thursday’s pitching matchup between him and James Shields was as unattractive as the weather unless you took a time machine back to 2013. Shields labored kinda sorta around the zone for most of the afternoon, surviving five innings with just three runs allowed. The last batter he faced doubled as the first strikeout he recorded this season, getting James McCann on a knuckle-curve in the dirt.
Every Shields start is going to be an adventure for as long as he sticks around in the rotation — there’s certainly no end coming soon — but for the second straight start he lasted juuuust long enough to give the White Sox a chance. An admirable trait, no doubt.
4. The White Sox offense, as I mentioned, looked good in Thursday’s loss, but that does not apply to Yoan Moncada, who finished 0-for-6 with four strikeouts. (Tigers pitching struck out 12, including an impressive six by Daniel Norris in 3 1/3 innings of relief).
There’s been some consternation about Moncada’s batting line, even just six games in, considering what it looked like in his debut last year. It’s difficult to worry, though, because it’s only been six games and because he continues to look good at the plate, despite the results. Maybe there will be a day down the road where Moncada’s performance will begin to bring pause that he’s not going to become the player the White Sox hope he can be. That day is not today.
5. Zimmermann-Shields is a pitching matchup for masochists, while Saturday’s Michael Fulmer-Lucas Giolito showdown is much more appetizing. The 25-year-old Fulmer has emerged as a reliable starter for the Tigers over the last two starts, and will undoubtedly find his name in trade rumors as the months go by the Detroit falls farther out of the race.
We know about Giolito, of course, but seeing how he bounces back from a subpar debut against the Royals will be worth watching.
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