MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Chicago White Sox

South Side Morning 5: Rodon, The Rebuild & The Trade Deadline

The Rebuild has always been about more than the handful of players acquired for Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, and Adam Eaton, as crucial as they may be.  After all, Carlos Rodon represents the highest draft pick in the organization, the reward for losing 99 games in 2013, back when the White Sox still fancied themselves contenders.  His development, and the progress of other players already on hand, was always going to play a huge role in the franchise’s fortunes.  At least today, things are looking up.

1. After a rocky June, pitching his first games in the majors since offseason shoulder surgery, Carlos Rodon has rattled off three straight quality starts against the Astros, Cardinals, and Angels, even carrying a no hitter into the sixth inning on Tuesday night.  Over three starts in July, Rodon has thrown 21 innings with an ERA of 1.71.  He’s still walking more batters than you’d like, but opposing batters have an OPS of .481 over that stretch.  Rodon has flashed excellence before, but in a season with a whole lot of ghastly pitching and failures at the major league level, it’s a pleasant reminder that not long ago, this guy was widely regarded as a front line starter of the future.  Even after his surgery, Rodon is averaging about 94 mph on his four seamer and touching 98 when he needs it.  July has also seen him abandon a sinking fastball for a more four-seam/change up pairing, which is worth monitoring moving forward.

2. On the offensive side of the ball, the team is oddly unremarkable statistically.  Of their top ten batters by plate appearance, five of them have an OPS+ between 96 and 103, and nine of them are between 96 and 120.  Adam Engel is the only real dud in the bunch with his .560 OPS.  While it’s good nobody in particular has cratered, per se, fora  team of young players we have seen more incremental improvement than any breakouts yet.  Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada have been uneven, if flashy, league average regulars, Matt Davidson, Yolmer Sanchez, Leury Garcia, and Omar Narvaez all continue to look overqualified as bench players but stretched in every day action.

It’s easy to forget Moncada still only has 657 major league plate appearances in his career, basically one full season’s worth and that’s reaching back to include his random 8 games cup of coffee with Boston in 2016.  There’s time yet for this group, particularly the middle infielders, to put together a strong finish to the season but as it stands it’s been a whole lot of Okay.

3. The trade deadline is coming up in less than a week, although it may be a quiet one for the White Sox.  Avisail Garcia has been good while he’s played, but he’s likely been too injury prone to draw much interest even if the White Sox did want to punt on someone who could contribute to a theoretical 2019 contention push. Jose Abreu looks like he’s coming out of his slump, but as we’ve discussed before, the White Sox would need to be blown away to part with the heart and face of the team and he hasn’t hit well enough to imagine such an offer would be forthcoming.  Still, there’s always a market for arms and James Shields has somehow pitched well enough in this weak market to be potentially worth something.

In fact, I would not be surprised to see the White Sox try to bundle a number of arms (or perhaps even hyper versatile bench pieces like Leury Garcia) to a team in the playoff race to improve their prospect return.  Thanks to some crazy win streaks and surprisingly open divisions, Oakland, Arizona, Washington, Seattle, Atlanta, Milwaukee, the Cubs, and arguably the Yankees could all upgrade their rosters with some combination of Shields, Joakim Soria, Leury Garcia, or even a Jace Fry or Xavier Cedeno.  The Blake Rutherford trade of 2017 is a model of what this might look like, even if Fry may not be as good as Kahnle and Soria is not as valuable as a David Robertson.

4.  It figures Nicky Delmonico and Avisail Garcia would come off the disabled list right about when Eloy Jimenez begins earnestly beating the door down for a major league roster spot.  Obviously, with a player of Jimenez’ caliber, you just make a spot for him and sort the rest out later, but this was the real tragedy of Delmonico’s injury, like Charlie Tilson’s before him, and perhaps Ryan Cordell’s as well–the White Sox had a window where there was a lot of playing time to be had for lesser players to show they are perhaps not lesser players, and that window is closing relatively quickly.

Center field still looks wide open, because Engel is approaching his 27th birthday with another couple hundred plate appearances of batting like the best hitting pitcher of the 21st century, but at Triple-A and above, the logjam is in the corners.

5. In case you missed it, our Collin Whitchurch has been writing regularly over at the mothership on the What You Need To Know team, covering all of the news around the league. He has an article up from Tuesday night to help you catch up on the insanity which has been the A’s, the Pirates, the Brewers and more.

Lead Image credit- Patrick Gorski, USA Today


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