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.
Some weeks are a lot easier to review than others, and with eight weeks left in the 2023 season, this has been one of my least favorites to cover. The play on the field has been terrible for almost the entire season, so only having two wins to review has been par for the course. However, the constant drama surrounding this team has become exhausting.
Amid the smack talk by departed players such as Keynan Middleton and Lance Lynn, as well as a reality show moment between Tim Anderson and Yasmani Grandal in a locker room smackdown, being a White Sox fan right now sucks. I get that baseball is a challenging sport, and when you follow a team it’s pretty typical for there to be more bad years than good ones. Still, season to season, a fan can usually have hope that a front office can acquire or develop talent, and coaches can work to change a team’s fortunes. But what optimism is there when a team is so gangrenous that it makes you want to puke?
That’s where I’m at in my fandom. It’s challenging to find much that’s appealing about this organization and to see a future where things are different and baseball is competitive again. Nonetheless, there are still 48 games to play, and someone has to cover them. So our South Side Sox staff will be here with you until the very end.
The Recaps Worth Revisiting
Saturday, August 5: White Sox 7, Guardians 4
The story of the night should have been the fantastic start by Michael Kopech, so that’s what I’m going to highlight. Kopech dominated the Guardians and carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning. Unfortunately, Cleveland ended the bid with one out when Andrés Giménez and José Ramírez hit back-to-back doubles. It was refreshing to see Kopech perform well, but he still struggled with his control as he issued four walks in 5 1⁄3 innings.
Home runs fueled the Sox offense, with bombs from Luis Robert Jr., Andrew Vaughn, Oscar Colás and Elvis Andrus. Zach Remillard also hit a two-run single in the top of the eighth, providing the team with more than enough runs to secure the win.
Sunday, August 6: White Sox 5, Guardians 3
After an intense game the night before, the Good Guys took an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first on a double by Andrus, a triple by Robert, and a sacrifice fly by Eloy Jiménez. The bats went silent again until the top of the ninth when the Sox managed to scratch across three runs on singles by Eloy, Vaughn, Colás, and Andrus, as well as bad Guardians defense to get the win and take the series from Cleveland.
Rookie Jesse Scholtens had another strong outing, surrendering only two earned runs on six hits and one walk with six strikeouts in six innings. The bullpen of Lane Ramsey, Sammy Peralta, and Jimmy Lambert shut down the Guardians and nailed down the win.
The Defensive Disport of the Week
Another Gem for La Pantera
There have been so many of these spectacular catches by Luis this season that I’ve lost count. With one on and two outs, Robert summoned his inner basketball star and jumped to snag a rocket off the bat of Kole Calhoun in the bottom of the sixth. It’s almost impossible to recall that just as of a year ago, Robert’s lone defensive weakness was plays at the wall.
The Week’s Top Three Biggest BLASTS
Luis Robert Jr., 415 feet, Saturday, August 5
La Pantera smashed a solo dinger to left field, putting the Good Guys on the board, 1-0.
Oscar Colás, 392 feet, Saturday, August 5
The second bomb of the year for Colás was crushed to right-center field and extended a White Sox lead to 3-0.
Elvis Andrus, 390 feet, Saturday, August 5
The home run brigade continued when Andrus smacked a two-run oppo taco giving the Sox a 5-0 lead, and plenty of runs to take the W.
Chicago acquired 20-year-old pitcher Cristian Mena in 2019 as a free agent from the Dominican Republic. He made his pro debut in the 2021 rookie-level Arizona Complex League, where he struggled a bit but had an impressive 11.5 K/9, especially considering he was only 18 years old. Last year, the righty split the season between Single-A Kannapolis and Winston-Salem and ended the season with three starts in Double-A with Project Birmingham. Despite going 2-6 over 24 starts in 2022, he finished with a respectable 3.80 ERA and 126 strikeouts over 104 1⁄3 innings.
At 6′2″ and 170 pounds, Mena is currently the White Sox’s No. 10 prospect per MLB. He had a bit of a slow start in 2023, but over the last 28 days, he’s gone 1-0 with a 3.22 ERA and 19 strikeouts in four games. This year he’s had a steady fastball, sitting in the mid-90s. His fastball, paired with his best pitch (a plus-downer curveball), could make him an effective mid-rotation starter or valuable pen arm if he can continue to develop solid control and command.
Cristian Mena goes 5 innings on Tuesday night allowing 1R on 8H and 1BB. He strikes out 6 on 59/92. @CurtBloom4 also gives you something to feel good about in here. #Barons #WhiteSox pic.twitter.com/S6R6Zvh8GN— White Sox Daily (@dailywhitesox) August 2, 2023
Other Tasty Tidbits
The trade deadline wrapped up for the Pale Hose last week, with them acquiring three new pitchers in late deals on Tuesday. Jake Eder from the Miami Marlins for Jake Burger was the most significant and surprising transaction. On the other hand, most fans expected Keynan Middleton to exit the South Side since he had an expiring contract, and their foes from the Bronx swapped Juan Carela for the reliever. Chicago also grabbed Luis Patiño from the Tampa Bay Rays for cash considerations. Be sure to catch all the detailed trade coverage here at South Side Sox.
Running Down the Rehabbers
In a season that already feels like the worst one in decades, fans took another smack to the head when the White Sox announced that reliever Liam Hendriks underwent Tommy John surgery on Wednesday morning. The recovery time for ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) reconstruction is typically 12-14 months. So, unfortunately, one of the most likable players on the team may have already thrown his last pitch on the South Side. Hendriks’ contract is up at the end of the 2023 season with a club option for 2024. His contract also includes a $15 million buyout (deferred at $1.5 million per year from 2024-33). It’s difficult to imagine that Jerry Reinsdorf will choose to pay Liam his full $15 million for 2024, to gear back up just in time to sign on with another team — so that buyout might be a more likely outcome.
Chicago has a six-game homestand where they’ll host the New York Yankees and the Milwaukee Brewers for three games each. The Bronx Bombers own a 56-52 record and are sleeping in the basement of the AL East. Despite sitting in last place, the Yankees are still in the Wild Card race, with only the Boston Red Sox in front of them. So unlike the Sox, New York needs to win some games. Aaron Judge is back in their lineup after missing almost eight weeks with an injured toe.
The Brew Crew is in a back-and-forth battle with the Cincinnati Reds for first place in the NL Central, so these three games also will be crucial for them. They were decently active at the trade deadline, acquiring two bats in Carlos Santana and Mark Canha, and reliever Andrew Chafin. While the South Siders no longer have any skin in the game, they could play spoiler over the next week.
Do you think that the Sox will actually be competitive in 2024?
This poll is closed
Yes, they’ll fill in some gaps with trades and free-agent signings in the offseason.
No, the new competitive window is further out, more like 2025 and/or 2026.
Not a chance. They won’t be competitive again until there’s new ownership.