Wins and losses don’t mean much this year but trolling the Twins is always worthwhile
— Nicky Beeps (@Nick_BPSS) May 4, 2018
1. We often get so caught up in who’s doing what and when and where in regards to the White Sox build toward contention that we don’t stop to appreciate a truly enjoyable game. Thursday’s 6-5 win over the Twins to open a six-game home stand was far from perfect, but when it comes to the aesthetic pleasure of watching your team win a game against a division foe, it was among the most satisfying of the season thus far. (Yes, I know there’s only been nine to choose from).
Just how satisfying was it?
— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) May 4, 2018
2. Trayce Thompson’s walk-off homer off Addison Reed capped a comeback from down 5-1 after just four innings. The offensive heroes were Thompson and Daniel Palka, the latter of whom the White Sox claimed off waivers over the offseason from Minnesota. Palka’s had an interesting start to his White Sox and major league career. The 26-year-old has been a free-swinger through his 24 plate appearances since replacing the disabled Avisail Garcia two weeks ago, showing he can do damage when he runs into a mistake. His solid if unspectacular track record in the minors shows enough promise, even if he’s older than most rookies, and the White Sox lack of ready-made outfielders in the minors until they decide Eloy Jimenez’s time has come means you can add him to the list of players looking to prove they’re of major league caliber going forward, whether it’s with the White Sox or not.
We know Thompson’s story already, but the walk-off shot came at a good time for a player who hasn’t exactly made the most of breath of fresh life his career was given when the White Sox re-acquired him a few weeks ago. The home run was his fifth hit since joining the White Sox, three of which have left the ballpark. Thompson, like Palka and a few others, is being given an opportunity that might not be afforded him on a team constructed a little differently, and with Nicky Delmonico’s slow start and Adam Engel’s offensive ineptitude, now is as good of a time as any for him to prove he belongs. Thursday’s home run was just a single shot at the most opportune of times, but it was a step in the right direction.
3. That the White Sox won despite their most consistent starting pitcher thus far having a rough night is a testament to both the offense, and Reynaldo Lopez readily admitted he didn’t have his best stuff on Thursday.
“I think that today none of my pitches were working as they were supposed to work,” López said through team interpreter Billy Russo. “It was a constant battle for me. I have to battle, I have to grind through it and I’m finding ways to just get an out. It was with all my pitches. Today it wasn’t my best stuff and it was a battle.”
A day after Lucas Giolito flipped the script on his walk-heavy April with seven strikeouts, Lopez turned in his second consecutive start where he simply wasn’t missing bats. He induced just two swinging strikes in his 83 pitches and a fastball that has sat 95 for most of the season averaged just 93 mph on the day.
Lopez has been something of an early-season revelation considering the questions about his viability as a starter as well as the struggles of the staff as a whole. We’ll see yet whether Thursday’s struggles were a blip or part of a long-term concern.
4. Waiting for the inevitable tide to turn on Matt Davidson’s hot start doesn’t have quite the same feel as when he did the same (and it never came) with Avisail Garcia a year ago. Davidson’s prospect pedigree and lack of a long-term opportunity to date make it entirely possible the hitter he’s been for the first five weeks of the season is close to the new norm for him. No, he’s probably not going to OPS close to 1.000 long term, but he’s only three walks away from matching last year’s season-long total, and had another two-hit game Thursday including a double that drove home the tying run.
We’ve said it on a number of occasions, but while Davidson’s strikeout numbers are always going to be hefty, him bringing it down just a smidge (he’s at 30 percent on the season after 37.3 percent a year ago) while upping the walk rate (8.3 percent compared to 5.9) and remaining powerful (you really need to numbers on this one?) will make him a much more valuable player than we ever would’ve imagined even a few months ago.
5. Welington Castillo was a late scratch on Thursday with what Rick Renteria said after the game was because of a ball he took to the “personal region of the body” last week. Given that Castillo was disables twice a year ago because of testicular injuries, one obviously hopes bad luck hasn’t struck the White Sox catcher twice. While Castillo’s defense hasn’t graded out particularly well thus far this season (he’s second worst in the league, per FRAA), Omar Narvaez’s defense also leaves a lot to desire, as evidenced by the pair of passed balls that aided the Twins’ first two runs of the game. Regardless, Castillo presents quite a bit more offensive upside than Narvaez, and while Kevan Smith is a capable injury fill-in if Castillo is forced to the disabled list, losing him for any amount of time would be a considerable blow.
Lead Photo Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports