Dan Jennings didn’t make a strong first impression with the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday. Starting the eighth inning, he gave up a pair of singles to the only two Yankees he faced. Brad Boxberger limited the damage by getting a run-scoring fielder’s choice and a double play, but Jennings’ run cut the Rays’ lead to 5-4, and Alex Colome blew the save in the ninth, after which the Yankees won in 10.
On the flip side, Tommy Kahnle threw a 1-2-3 seventh, striking out one. He has yet to give up a walk or a hit in five games, with seven strikeouts and one HBP over 41⁄3 innings.
The Sox are 1-11 in the second half, and there aren’t any signs that a turnaround is in the offing. With the crosstown series out of the way and the reverse standings the only one of importance, White Sox fans may spend much of the last two months monitoring other teams and players of interest.
I’m always interested in how former Sox do with their new teams, at least at the start of their careers, to see if there are any lessons learned in usage, environment or otherwise. Here’s how I see them:
It seemed like Kahnle could have been the star of his own deal, rather than the best player overshadowed by two bigger names (and salaries) in the same package. Give Kahnle another half or whole season at his level, and he could’ve commanded more than Blake Rutherford. But since batters had hit him at a .300/.313/.417 clip for nine runs over his last 15 games as a White Sox, maybe Rick Hahn wanted to sell too soon than too late to acquire a player he wanted.
I’m guessing we’ve seen the best Quintana can do, although he might be able to maintain a (near) peak performance for quite a while longer. The intrigue will come when watching Quintana pitch meaningful games in September/October. I always wondered whether he’d be a better bet than Chris Sale in a one-game playoff since emotions don’t seem to throw him out of sorts. Sale’s the runaway Cy Young candidate for a first-place team, so maybe Sale has matured enough to handle that part.
There was nothing wrong with the Frazier trade, but it was wrong for the White Sox largely stop adding after him. The pop-up problem followed him from Cincinnati to Chicago, and so he wasn’t a guy who could carry an offense, even with a 40-homer season. The .220 average over his White Sox career sums him up — Sox fans have somehow seen worse, but it’s nevertheless disappointing to see a headliner turn into a salary dump in a year and a half. He’s just expected to blend in with the Yankees, which might give us a better sense of how the White Sox offense could have looked under different circumstances.
Jennings was undoubtedly an MLB reliever with the White Sox, but as a lefty with slight reverse splits, he never had a clear best use besides “maybe he’ll keep the game close for a couple of innings,” which was partially why his strand rate was so low. He did finish his Sox career pitching his best baseball, though — 20 strikeouts to just 16 baserunners over 17 1⁄3 innings. He also found a way to gain traditional splits, although it was partially because he missed off the plate more, resulting in a disproportionate amount of walks in such matchups (12 in 89 plate appearances). I’m curious whether this transition to traditional lefty is going to stick, or whether Kevin Cash might be exposed to a very painful correction.
Robertson pitched well enough over 2½ seasons with the White Sox to leave no crushing regrets or ill feelings, but he also suffered enough collapses to make the risk of holding onto him quite apparent.
The White Sox got him for nothing, worked him hard, then traded him to the Brewers for one of their surplus outfielders. It feels low-stakes all around, but with Swarzak and Kahnle, it was nice to hear about a couple Don Cooper success stories after a lull.