Welcome to the SSS Summary — a little review of what happened this past week in Chicago White Sox baseball, including on-the-field play, the front office jibber-jabber, and everything in-between. Even if you don’t want to remember what happened, sorry, we will tell you anyway.
After another middling week, the South Siders find themselves six games back of the first-place Minnesota Twins, losing another half-game since last week. Going 3-3, they are still holding tight to fourth place, ahead of only the lowly Kansas City Royals. With an overall record of 34-45, the halfway mark in the season is quickly approaching. This team would need to go 47-36 just to hit .500 at 81-81, playing at a pace they have yet to come close to in 2023.
Last week the starting pitchers were great, and the bullpen was crummy. This week there was nothing to write home about either, and most of the starts were fair, at best: short, good outings by Dylan Cease and Lucas Giolito. With [redacted] on the IL, there were two bullpen games, a quick showing by Michael Kopech and another battle by Lance Lynn. Over the past seven days, the team’s 3.83 ERA sits at 14th in MLB.
It was an entertaining stretch regarding home run offense as the Sox hit 11 of them, which was good enough to earn fifth place in baseball and second place in the AL for the week. Surprisingly, the only two AL teams to hit more than them were the Twins and the Seattle Mariners. While the Twinkies aren’t spectacular, they may be just good enough to win the weak AL Central.
Aside from the dingers, nine of which were solo shots, the overall offense still isn’t cutting it. The .292 OBP is still the worst in baseball, and despite all the round-trippers, a .392 slugging sits at the bottom third of the league, as does its .242 batting average.
After not speaking to reporters since Memorial Day, there was a Rick Hahn sighting before the game on Monday at Guaranteed Rate Field. When asked about the team’s inadequate performance in 2023, the general manager admitted he was puzzled: “I don’t have the answer for that, in all candor. It’s not for lack of individual confidence. It’s not for lack of support from the staff. It’s not from lack of communication about expectations and what we feel guys are capable of doing. It’s been, again, we have been digging ourselves out of a hole for a while now, and it’s a little tough to have that edge when you are swimming upstream.”
So if it’s not the players or the management, it could be the guy responsible for constructing a team that doesn’t complement each other in a way conducive to winning a championship. So maybe, Rick, it’s time to look in the mirror and step down if you aren’t the guy who can bring the parade — just a thought. If I remember correctly, I’m pretty sure that’s what you said you would do. It’s called accountability.
The Recaps Worth Revisiting
Tuesday, June 20: White Sox 7, Rangers 6
Long-ball offense quickly kickstarted the scoring in the bottom of the first for the Good Guys. Eloy Jiménez knocked a two-run bomb to right-center field, and Elvis Andrus hit a solo shot in the fifth. The Sox managed to manufacture their remaining four runs, which they have struggled to do all season long, but they were still only 2-for-8 with RISP. The winning run occurred on a controversial blocking-the-plate call in the bottom of the eighth.
Dylan Cease looked like the Cy Young finalist of old. He was fantastic, going six innings and surrendering only two runs on five hits with two walks and nine strikeouts. Keynan Middleton had a rare outing where he could not get a single out when he came on in relief of Cease in the top of the seventh. Gregory Santos also struggled and gave up two runs on two hits in 1 2⁄3 innings. Aaron Bummer and Kendall Graveman finished it out for the W.
Saturday, June 24: White Sox 5, Boston 4
Another ninth-inning rally helped the South Siders earn their league-leading seventh walk-off win of the season. More solo jacks by Yasmani Grandal, Jake Burger, Luis Robert Jr., and Andrew Vaughn led the way in the 5-4 victory. Heading into the ninth, the Sox were up 4-3 when Graveman gave up the tying run. Fear not, as another comeback was eminent when Gavin Sheets singled two outs. Zach Remillard came in to pinch-run and promptly stole second. Then, Andrus singled him home for the victory. Lance Lynn battled through 5 2⁄3 innings and fought his way to a no-decision. Gregory Santos and Joe Kelly combined for 2 1⁄3 shutout innings in relief.
Sunday, June 25: White Sox 4, Boston 1
With a chance to earn their first series win since taking two of three from the Yankees at the beginning of June, the Pale Hose went with a bullpen game to get the job done. Not an ideal way to set up a series win, but it’s the White Sox, after all. It ended up being the right call as the arm barn, including opener Tanner Banks, Jesse Scholtens, Bummer and Middleton together only surrendered one run on five hits, three walks, and 10 strikeouts. More dinger offense, including two no-doubters by Robert, accounted for three of the team’s four runs.
The Standout Star of the Week
THIS is La Pantera
Luis Robert Jr. continued his accent to stardom with a four-homer week. Robert owns a .855 OPS, which is the 15th-best in the league. He has a 3.2 WAR and was the first on the team to reach 20 home runs and 20 doubles. His defense isn’t too shabby either, with 8 OAA.
The Defensive Disport of the Week
AV’s Diving Grab
Andrew Vaughn gets a lot of flack for his defense, as he should. Today though, we’re giving him a gold star for a catch he made in Monday’s 5-2 loss against the Texas Rangers.
The Week’s Top Three Biggest BLASTS
Luis Robert Jr., 445 feet, Saturday, June 24
La Pantera launched this one. In the bottom of the sixth, he cranked a line-drive shot to left field, his 19th of the season, tying it, 3-3.
Luis Robert Jr. 433 feet, Monday, June 19
In the bottom of the sixth, Robert crushed his 18th round-tripper of 2023 to center field. It cut the deficit to 3-2.
Andrew Vaughn, 409 feet, Monday, June 19
AV also had himself a week. He rocketed his solo shot in the top of the sixth, to lead off the inning and give the Good Guys their first tally of the contest.
Other Tasty Tidbits
Elvis Andrus played in his 2,000th career game on June 21, and has been better this month with a slash line of .222/.276/.315. Still not great, but better than May (.188/.297/.281).
The White Sox also hosted Pride Night on June 21. They gave away a unique Pride shirt to the first 10,000, and offered themed merchandise for purchase.
On June 20, the team added some bullpen depth and claimed right-handed pitcher Touki Toussaint off waivers from the Cleveland Guardians. He pitched four hitless, shutout innings in his debut the next night in relief of Michael Kopech. The righty is a former 2014 first-round pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Running Down the Rehabbers
On June 20, Garrett Crochet landed on the 15-day injured list (retroactive to June 17) with left shoulder inflammation. In a corresponding move, Jimmy Lambert was reinstated and called up from his injury rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Charlotte. Lambert had a brief stay in Chicago, as he was sent back to Charlotte when Lance Lynn was reinstated from the Bereavement List.
A rough road trip lies ahead for the South Siders, as they head to the Golden State for a week. They play four games against the Los Angeles Angels and three versus the pitiful Oakland A’s. The Angels are five games better than .500, and still fighting for a playoff spot. Currently, Michael Kopech is scheduled for a showdown against Shohei Ohtani on Tuesday. It could be an exciting game, depending on which version of Kopech we get. The A’s are still the worst team in baseball, so you know what that means; they’ll sweep the Sox.
What was the best game of the week?
This poll is closed
Tuesday, June 20: Cease gem, win 7-6
Saturday, June 24: walk-off thriller, win 5-4
Sunday, June 25: bullpen masterpiece, win 4-1
What was the worst game of the week?
This poll is closed
Monday, June 19: bad bullpen, 5-2 loss
Wednesday, June 21: Kopech exits early, 6-3 loss
Friday, June 23: lost offense, bad defense, 3-1 loss