This Week in White Sox Baseball: April 7-12

Week 2 Record: 1-5 (4-8 Overall), 3rd in AL Central

Well, White Sox fans, the week is over. This was a rough one, but this is still a rebuilding team at the end of the day. Let’s look back at the week and some of its highs (and lows).

Game 7: White Sox (3-4) offense falls flat in 6-1 loss to Tigers (3-4)

Dixon Machado and Miguel Cabrera led the Tigers’ offense by combining to drive in 5 of their 6 runs, while Michael Fulmer threw 5.1 scoreless innings. Lucas Giolito was roughed up over 5.2 innings, giving up 5 runs, walking 3 while striking out 4. Yoan Moncada, Nicky Delmonico, and Welington Castillo all had two hits in the loss.

W: Michael Fulmer (1-1) L: Lucas Giolito (0-1)

Game 8: Mike Fiers outduels Reynaldo Lopez as Sox (3-5) fall to Tigers (4-4) 1-0

Reynaldo Lopez threw one of his best starts as a member of the White Sox, just one game after we said the exact same thing about his start against the Blue Jays. While he did walk 5 batters, he also struck out 5 over 7 innings of one-run (0 ER), two-hit baseball. However, Mike Fiers was just a little bit better, as he threw 6 innings of scoreless baseball, striking out 6 while walking just one. Former Tiger Bruce Rondon also made his White Sox debut in this game, striking out all four hitters he faced in 1.1 innings of work.

W: Mike Fiers (1-0) L: Reynaldo Lopez (0-1) S: Shane Greene (2)

Game 9: Gonzalez struggles as White Sox (3-6) drop 4th straight

The White Sox welcomed the Rays into town, thanks to the work of the Roger Bossard-led White Sox’ ground crew. However, Miguel Gonzalez struggled, giving up four runs on eight hits in just 4.1 innings of work – this was the first time in the season that the White Sox did not get at least 5 innings from their starting pitcher. Nicky Delmonico launched his first homer of the season in the 5th inning off of Archer.

W: Chris Archer (1-0) L: Miguel Gonzalez (0-2) S: Alex Colome (2)

Game 10: Late White Sox (3-7) rally falls short as Rays (3-8) win 6-5

Blake Snell stymied the White Sox’ offense – while he walked 5 Sox hitters, he also struck out 10 through his six innings of one-run ball. Carson Fulmer struggled over 4.2 innings, giving up four runs (3 ER), while walking six and striking out four. The White Sox rallied in the ninth, putting up four runs – three on one swing from Jose Abreu – but came up just short. Nothing too positive here, so enjoy this video of Yolmer Sanchez, Nicky Delmonico, and Tim Anderson on MLB Network.

W: Blake Snell (1-1) L: Carson Fulmer (0-1) S: Alex Colome (3)

Game 11: Matt Davidson plays Hero as White Sox (4-7) defeat Rays (3-9) 2-1

The White Sox were in danger of going winless on the homestand, and things didn’t look good heading into the bottom of the 8th. After an Abreu single, Matt Davidson unloaded on a 1-1 pitch from Austin Pruitt to give the Sox the lead for the first time in the series. Nate Jones closed out the game with a relatively stress-free ninth inning, as the White Sox ended their five-game skid. Bruce Rondon also completed his second scoreless inning out of the bullpen.

W: Bruce Rondon (1-0) L: Austin Pruitt (1-2) S: Nate Jones (1)

Game 12: Jose Berrios dazzles as Twins (7-4) beat the White Sox (4-8) 4-0

In case you didn’t already know, Jose Berrios is going to be a force in this league for the Minnesota Twins. He showed why on Thursday night, striking out 11 White Sox hitters over 7 scoreless innings. Giolito held his own despite control problems, throwing 6.1 innings. Nothing positive to really post here either, so instead I’ll post a video of Dane Dunning’s dazzling start on April 11.

W: Jose Berrios (2-1) L: Lucas Giolito (0-2)

Quote of the Week: Dane Dunning after his gem on April 11

One thing I focused on this offseason was working on my curveball. [White Sox pitching coach] Don Cooper gave me a few calls this winter to work on that pitch and my changeup, and that’s what I did. I continued that through the spring and got some really great help from James Shields. He showed me a different grip to use for the curve, which it gives it a little sharper bite and allows me to control it more. That’s been a big plus for me so far.”

(From Michael Avallone’s article on milb.com)

This is why James Shields is still valuable to this team. He will eat some innings and probably won’t be anything spectacular, but he is a veteran presence on a team that is full of young, inexperienced stars. James Shields, essentially, is the Jose Abreu of the pitching staff. The experience he brings to the young pitchers is invaluable, and as you can see above, his influence has gone beyond just those at the Major League level. So, sure, we’d LOVE to have Fernando Tatis, Jr. in the organization right now, but the value we are receiving back in Shields isn’t going to be seen through his own wins: it’ll be seen in the wins from guys like Lopez, Giolito, Cease, Dunning, and others down the road.

Overreaction of the Week: Yoan Moncada (*sigh*…. again)

Yoan Moncada this week hit .391 (9-23), but of those 14 times he got out, 13 were by the strikeout…. so, NOW IS THE TIME TO PANIC, RIGHT?!?!?!?……..

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Alrighty, here’s my explanation this week. This one comes as a former player (granted, at a MUCH lower level). We all go through slumps, okay, it’s natural as a hitter. But, the mental game of baseball is easily the most important – and the most difficult – part of the game to master. We can’t expect Yoan Moncada, AT THE AGE OF 22, to master the mental aspect of a slump. This was put on full display during the suicide squeeze debacle: Moncada’s been an amazing hitter all his life, assumedly. He is struggling and he knows it. He’s probably incredibly aggravated that he is in a situation where he’s being asked to bunt because his manager can’t trust him or the rest of the team to get a run across. It’s a lot of aggravation just stewing on a 22 year old, and that’s why he got so mad.

Getting the suicide squeeze sign is the most deflating feeling as a hitter, at least it was for me, because as much as you want to do whatever you can to help the team, it just feels terrible that your coach doesn’t trust you to get a run across. Plus, a lot of that lack of trust is because of your own struggles as a hitter… basically, the mental game of baseball is insane. Give the kid time to work through it; we have plenty of it, and he deserves the time.

Don’t like this argument? Fine, then consider the stats: O-SwingScreen Shot 2018-04-13 at 12.35.34 AM% is the percentage of pitches that a hitter swings at outside of the zone. The players who have this perfected are guys like the OBP King Joey Votto. You want this number to be low. Shown here are the current leaders in lowest O-Swing%. Moncada is 24th, up there with some pretty quality names, all within a few percentage points of one another (outside of Mauer). So, this means that Moncada’s struggles are because of his struggles to hit pitches in the zone, not because he’s chasing pitches. He’s got an elite eye that you can’t teach, and that’s why the hits will eventually come. He did have 9 hits in six games. He just also struck out a ton. Again, 22 years old.

So PLEASE, lay off of Moncada – don’t call him out on his Instagram posts, and just let him be Yoan Moncada. You struggled at 22 too, and I can guarantee that there weren’t a couple million people observing and bashing you while you were trying to figure things out.

Stat of the Week: Timmy has Wheels

Tim Anderson was determined to make stealing bases a priority this season, and through the first ten or so games of the season, he has definitely shown us the speed he has:

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I love to see this out of Timmy, and I hope he continues to be this aggressive throughout the season. Adding a speed element to the White Sox offense is crucial in the times when the offense is struggling.

Player of the Week

The Player of the Week this week, as well as every from now on, will be chosen by you, the fans! And this week, the winner is…..

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Matt Davidson! He received 44% of the vote. Reynaldo Lopez finished second with a close 37% of the vote, and Tim Anderson finished third with 17% of the vote. Thanks to all who voted!

Moment of the Week

The Moment of the Week was also chosen by you fans this week, and naturally, you chose the most positive moment of the week: Matt Davidson’s 2-run HR against the Rays in the Sox’ only win of the week. He received 64% of the vote. Reynaldo Lopez’s excellent start came in second place, earning 26% of the vote. Thanks for voting in this poll as well!

However, I almost over-rode the voters when I saw this graphic from Wheel of Fortune…

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WE HAVE BEEN RECOGNIZED FOLKS!!!!!

Weekend Preview: 3 more against the Twinkies

Today: Reynaldo Lopez (0-1, 0.69 ERA) vs. TBA

Saturday: Miguel Gonzalez (0-2, 8.68 ERA) vs. Lance Lynn (0-1, 5.00 ERA)

Sunday: Carson Fulmer (0-1, 5.59 ERA) vs. Jake Odorizzi (1-0, 2.20 ERA)

Bold Prediction of the Week

The Bold Prediction of the Week, every week from now on, will come from you fans as well! Thanks to all who submitted. Since we had so many predictions this week, I chose the top 3:

3. “The weekend gets snowed out and this 4 game series ends up being a 1 game series” – @TonyDoffin (This might come true honestly)

2. “Yolmer Hits 4 Homers” – @NJBooth20

1. “Sox take back first place in the standings” – @HanrahanKerrick

Keep being bold, White Sox Fans, and see you next Friday!!

(Featured Image from WGN Radio)

 

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