With 19 losses over 22 games and no wins in six August tries, there’s been ample ammo for griping and gallows’ humor among White Sox fans.
Tuesday offered a change of pace, both before and during an entertaining 8-5 victory over the Astros, so let’s spend some time rolling around in some actual good news.
Reynaldo Lopez coming up
“As had somehow got leaked out of this organization prematurely — we’re going to have to get to the bottom of this — Reynaldo Lopez will be starting on Friday.”
Rick Hahn said this on Tuesday, but aside from the joke about the leak, he could’ve said this at any point over the previous weeks. Dan Hayes relayed the list of boxes Hahn said Lopez checked off:
“More consistency with the fastball, he threw quality strikes, trusting his off-speed pitches, being able to throw any pitch in any count,” Hahn said. “Again, taking the ball every fifth day and being prepared for that specific outing. The work that's done in between starts, some of the stuff that's not publicly seen. He's done everything we've asked of him and now's the time for him to take that next step.”
leaked gave another reason for the delay at and after Saberseminar on Saturday, saying he didn’t want to promote Lopez only to throw him into a string of tough opponents that had punished the White Sox to the tune of a recent 3-19 run. He conceded that Kansas City gives the Sox its own brand of tough time, but the teams on the schedule over the rest of August -- Rangers, Twins, Tigers, Twins again — are all working through their own issues.
Hahn said the team could go to a six-man rotation over the last month if they have extra starters to audition, but for now the biggest question is who gets Lopez’s spot in the Charlotte rotation. Jordan Guerrero seems to have the inside track since he’s about to finish a second full season at Birmingham, but Michael Kopech made the decision a lot more difficult with his recent dominance.
Nicky Delmonico thwarting the shift
Nicky Delmonico didn’t have a sac bunt at Charlotte this season, which is a little bit unusual since all hitters usually get some from of practice at it over the course of a minor-league season. He had four between Double-A and Triple-A in 2016, and apparently he remembers how to do it.
On Tuesday, for the second time in as many games, Delmonico bunted to beat a shift leading off an inning off a right-handed pitcher falling off toward first base.
This is probably easier for somebody of Delmonico’s status to do, since 1) bunting is a bigger part of a rookie’s arsenal, and 2) a rookie is desperate for any and all hits. Delmonico already gave us a few reasons to watch him, and here’s another. He proved the shift correct when he grounded out in his first two at-bats, so I want to see how teams adjust to this. I’m guessing they might play the third baseman in a traditional spot on the edge of the grass rather soon, because he’s making it look pretty simple.
Here’s his first hit from the condensed game:
The condensed game uses park audio, and an audible Red Sox fan and White Sox fan summed up this play better than any broadcast booth after it worked.
- Red Sox fan: “What the hell...”
- White Sox fan: “ATTABOY NICKYYYY!”
Adam Engel elevating
Last week, Adam Engel racked himself on a stanchion in right center trying to steal a homer away from Josh Donaldson.
On Tuesday, Engel showed everybody what he was trying to do.
Ohhhhhhhh, I get it now.
It’s fun seeing a catch like that turn teammates into Hawk Harrelson.
“That's one of the greatest catches I've ever seen to go out there and rob McCann,” winning pitcher Derek Holland said. [...]
“If you took a second, you saw every player with their hands up — and the whole bench. It was a pretty cool feeling on my end, so far away from it. I can't imagine how Avi felt or how Adam felt, but that is going to go down as one of the best catches in a long time,” [Kevan Smith said].
The Sox have had their share of memorable home-run robbing catches, from Dewayne Wise saving a perfect game to Avisail Garcia saving Independence Day, but I was trying to remember ones that required scaling the fence to get that extra elevation. The only one that comes to mind is Ivan Calderon, perhaps because it’s always good to think of Ivan Calderon.