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Grading the White Sox: Reynaldo López

We like the 2022 version of ReyLo — a lot

Chicago White Sox v Kansas City Royals - Game Two
Do our eyes deceive us, or has Reynaldo López’s ace eyesight turned him into a bullpen stopper?
Ed Zurga/Getty Images

At midseason, the SSS staff graded the 46-46 White Sox, from head of the class Dylan Cease all the way down to Dallas Keuchel. We invented a WARsss metric that could very well be just a cute way to trot out our special site grades — but really for all you know could be the product of years of research in a stats lab.

Our expanded report card will take us through everyone who saw time in uniform for the White Sox, plus some front-office types. Most of our writers will take on a couple of players, with final grades and short writeups, running through the end of November. Enjoy!

Reynaldo López
Right-Handed Relief Pitcher
Midseason: 4.7 WARsss
Final: 6.2 WARsss

Reynaldo López’s transition to the bullpen has been tremendous. In 515 13 career innings as a starter, López has a 4.73 ERA and a 4.88 FIP. Since transitioning to a full-time reliever during the 2021 season, López has a 2.84 ERA and a 2.60 FIP in 98 13 innings. His 2.2 WAR as a reliever over the past two seasons ranks 29th out of 287 hurlers who had at least 50 innings pitched (90th percentile). For as bad as López’s 2020 season was, followed by 10 concerning starts in Charlotte to start the 2021 season (where it looked as though he was approaching potential DFA candidacy), he’s definitely found his home in the bullpen — and by home I mean a new high-leverage, back-end option role in the bullpen.

López’s miniscule 1.99 FIP in 2022 was the sixth-best in baseball for relievers with at least 50 innings pitched — exactly one point below the likely AL Reliever of the Year, Cleveland’s Emmanuel Clase. López’s 1.9 WAR was second in the American League only to Clase. ReyLo was undeniably one of the best relief pitchers in baseball, and absolutely no one saw it coming.

Aside from an unsustainable 1.5 HR/FB%, the amount of red on López’s Baseball Savant page is great to see. Even with the fickle nature of relievers, it seems as though he was pretty legit.

In terms of his pitch arsenal, López throwing his fastball 1.3 mph faster in 2022 (and faster than he ever has as a big-leaguer) certainly helped, but it also featured more vertical break (ride) that helped to increase its whiff rate. López also started to throw his 86-88 mph slider one-third of the time in 2021, and the pitch now features above-average horizontal break. Interestingly, López has increased his slider’s horizontal break every season as a member of the White Sox, and it’s a pitch that enjoys some seam-shifted wake attributes that research suggests can cause “late-break” effects.

The stuff improvements are evident with López, but the game-changer has been the command component. As shown by his xRV command grades, his fastball particularly was a night-and-day difference from 2020. Anyone that watched López work through his struggles as a starter from 2018-20 would probably point to fastball command as one of the main culprits of his failures.

Whether it was the LASIK eye surgery, the help of Ethan Katz, or a combination of both, López showcased both the kind of high-octane stuff that excites you out of the bullpen, but also the calmness and confidence that comes with just a 4.3% walk rate.

2022 White Sox Grades

Reynaldo López, RHRP, 6.2
José Abreu, 1B, 5.8
Jimmy Lambert, RHRP, 5.2
Eloy Jiménez, “LF,” 4.9
Michael Kopech, RHSP, 4.86
Liam Hendriks, RHRP, 4.85
Danny Mendick, UTIL, 4.4
Ethan Katz, PIT COACH, 4.3
Tanner Banks, LHRP, 4.27
Andrew Vaughn, “LF,” 4.25
Davis Martin, RHSP, 4.1
Seby Zavala, C, 4.0
Luis Robert, CF, 3.7
Lance Lynn, RHSP, 3.5
Miguel Cairo, Bench Coach/MGR, 3.48
Tim Anderson, SS, 3.43
Kendall Graveman, RHRP, 3.1
Josh Harrison, 2B, 3.0
Gavin Sheets, RF-1B, 2.5
Jake Burger, 3B, 2.2
Romy González, IF, 2.0
Aaron Bummer, LHRP, 1.8
AJ Pollock, OF, 1.3
Matt Foster, RHRP, 1.2
Yoán Moncada, 3B, 0.92
Lenyn Sosa, SS, 0.85
José Ruiz, RHRP, 0.83
Mark Payton, OF, 0.6
Carlos Pérez, C, 0.399
Lucas Giolito, RHSP, 0.392
Adam Engel, OF, 0.237
Vince Velasquez, RHP, -0.4
Reese McGuire, C, -1.1
Kyle Crick, RHRP, -1.65
Joe Kelly, RHRP, -1.75
Daryl Boston, 1B Coach, -2.0
Anderson Severino, LHRP, -2.2
Jerry Reinsdorf, OWN, -2.321
Jake Diekman, LHRP, -2.366
Rick Hahn, GM, -2.401
Bennett Sousa, LHRP, -2.425
Frank Menechino, BAT COACH, -2.469
Yasmani Grandal, C/DH, -2.549
Leury García, UTIL, -2.7
Adam Haseley, OF, -3.146
Joe McEwing, 3B Coach, -3.167
Ryan Burr, RHRP, -3.4
Tony La Russa, MGR, -3.5
Dallas Keuchel, LHSP, -3.9


ReyLo! Wow!

This poll is closed

  • 33%
    I thought this was asking about grades. If so, too harsh, he was magic in relief in 2022.
    (16 votes)
  • 8%
    Yeah, isn’t this about grades? If so, too easy, if he’s not a starter, I don’t like him.
    (4 votes)
  • 58%
    I don’t care if this is about grades or not, but I have no quibble with this essay or grade.
    (28 votes)
48 votes total Vote Now