White Sox Outlook for Crosstown Classic Looked Promising, Then it All Fell Apart

Another season, another year without the most coveted trophy in sports.

Over the weekend, the White Sox failed to take back the BP Crosstown Cup versus the North Siders, adding to the long list of disappointments for the 2018 season.

The White Sox were never really a threat to take four of six from the Cubs, but it would have one of the biggest victories all season. They instead took one win at each ballpark and were outscored 40-25 in six games, losing most of those games early on.

It’s the second straight year the Cubs claimed the trophy, despite the fact that the recent series at Guaranteed Rate Field, was supposed to play out much differently – or so many hoped only three weeks before.

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After losing the first series in May, the perception of what the White Sox team would look like in September was completely full of promise. Looking back at the trip to Wrigley, Yoan Moncada and Tim Anderson, were in the midst of their season struggles. Reynaldo Lopez was the White Sox best pitcher at the time and he did not even have a chance to throw in that series. Carlos Rodon was still recovering from his injury and wouldn’t pitch until mid-June. Top-pitching prospect Michael Kopech was still in the minors, but many believed he would surely be apart of the team when the Cubs made their trip to the South Side. Combine all of these factors, it seemed that the White Sox could have several significant weapons to add to their arsenal.

And among all that anticipation and promise, standing tall and mighty looming in the background, was the possibility of Eloy Jimenez playing against the Cubs, showing everyone what they’re going to miss out on.

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Then September came, and it was a disappointment. Moncada had been red hot since August 24, and he started off the series with 3 for 4 game, but then went 0 for 7 with 3 Ks in the following two games. He was not terrible, going 3 for 11 (.273) in the series.

Anderson on the other hand went 4 for 11 (.365) with a double and his 20th HR of the season, making him the first White Sox shortstop ever to hit 20 HR and steal 20 bases in a single season. TA7 was also a highlight machine, making several great plays at shortstop throughout the series.

As far as the pitchers go, the results were not the same. Lopez was able to pitch this time around and he was great. His line was 7.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 8 SO. It was his fifth straight start with at least 6 innings pitched, 1 earned run or less, and 6 Ks. Four of Lopez’s last five starts have been 7 innings, 1 earned or less.

Rodon, arguably the White Sox ace this season, also got his chance to pitch but it happened to be his worst of the year, against the Cubs – of all teams. His line was 2.1 IP, 6 ER, 9 H and 3 Ks. It was his lowest innings pitched this season, while giving up the most hits and earned runs in any start this season.

As far as the September call-ups went, Jimenez never received his promotion as the organization was not ready to give him his chance just yet. He had an incredible year in the minors, but somehow still did not receive his promotion. Jimenez even published a story on the Players’ Tribune stating simply that he is ready. His agency also made headlines as they considered filing a formal grievance against the organization for not giving Jimenez his call up. In the end, the White Sox chose not to show off their best prospect.

Kopech on the other hand, did receive his promotion and for a few weeks, he was the biggest success the White Sox and their fans could hang their caps on for the season. The White Sox finally had a prospect that was MLB-ready and MLB-great. Most of the Sox prospects have only shown flashes and glimpses of what their potential talent could be. In Kopech’s only full (and uninterrupted) start, he pitched five scoreless innings, going six total innings, only giving up one run, hitting 98 MPH on the gun and striking out batters with 83 MPH sliders. Then, in true 2018-fashion, reports came in on September 7th that Kopech had torn his UCL and would require Tommy John surgery, making his next scheduled start at the beginning of the 2020 season, without any setbacks.

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Prior to the Kopech’s final start on September 3, the White Sox were 14-6 over their last 20 games. From September 3, the White Sox dropped seven in a row.

It was only three weeks before the anticipated September series versus the Cubs that the hope of matching up well with the North Siders was still very much alive. But Jimenez did not get called up, Kopech tore his UCL, then Rodon had his worst day of the year, altogether resulting in another season series loss for Ricky’s Boys.

So once again eyes are looking towards the future. Key players are playing well lately and are hoping to improve for next year. And of course, as always, there are many other prospects on the way. Similar to Kopech’s anticipated arrival, Minor League Pitcher of the Year Dylan Cease could be receiving his promotion some time next season, along with many others who are already at the Double-A and Triple-A levels.

Patience is the name of the game again for the White Sox, who will be much more prepared in 2019 to retake the Crosstown Cup. If not, there’s always 2020, when the Major League squad should be highlighted with names like Jimenez, Kopech, Cease, Moncada, Anderson, Rodon, Lopez, Madrigal, Robert and co.

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