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South Side Sox Summary: Week 26

And so the end is near, and so I face that final curtain

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.

Did my subhed get you to sing “My Way” in your head? It is a great song, after all, and I prefer the Elvis Presley version. I mean, Frank Sinatra is great and all, but Elvis is the King.

Yes, friends. We have come to that final stretch. The week that lies before us is the final one. But before we come to that, it’s time to reflect on last week’s minutia. Week 26 is just that — fiddle-faddle. Despite going 3-3, we’re limping our way out of 2023 in hopes that 2024 looks nothing like it. Unfortunately, we’re all White Sox fans and know that hope is all we have because the reality is that next season could look not only just as awful — but even worse.

On that uplifting note, let’s look at the week that was .... well, a week in which the South Siders played something resembling decent baseball.

The Recaps Worth Revisiting

Monday, September 18: White Sox 6, Nationals 1

It was fun starting the week off with a win! The offense did its job by hitting for some power and then manufacturing a few runs. Luis Robert Jr. finally hit a dinger in September, his 36th of the season. He made it count by driving in three in the top of the fifth and giving the Sox a 3-0 lead. They added on three more the following inning on a hit parade by Yoán Moncada, Andrew Vaughn, Yasmani Grandal, Elvis Andrus, Tim Anderson, and Andrew Benintendi.

Six runs were all the Sox needed to nab the win. Redacted pitched a complete game, only allowing one run on six hits and striking out seven.

Saturday, September 23: White Sox 1, Red Sox 0

Dylan Cease was absolutely terrific. He surrendered no runs on six hits and struck out 11 over seven innings. The righty also hit a significant milestone by getting his 200th strikeout. It’s his third straight season with at least 200 Ks, and he now belongs to an exclusive club that includes Ed Walsh and Chris Sale as the only Chicago pitchers to record three straight seasons with at least 200 strikeouts. If only we could have seen this version of him all season. Dylan also didn’t walk a single batter, for only the third time this year. While he didn’t win any of those contests, he earned a quality start for each. He’s genuinely Cy Young, All-Star caliber when he is in control. Which version of Cease will we get in 2024? Only the baseball gods know.

Of course, Aaron Bummer got the ball in the eighth and tried to ruin Cease’s gem by walking the first two batters. Fortunately, he settled in and retired the next three, earning him the win. Bryan Shaw also did his best in the ninth to give the game away when he gave up two singles, but with two on and two out, he struck Ceddanne Rafaela to end the game and collect the save.

The lone offense was a Luis Robert Jr. dinger poked down the right field line that snuck around Pesky’s Pole in the top of the eighth inning. It was La Pantera’s 38th of the season and third four-bagger of the week. It was his 27th solo shot, demonstrating how truly awful the offense has been. Robert’s creeping extremely close to 40 bombs, but creeping close is as close as he’ll get, as he left Sunday’s game with left knee soreness and will finish the season on the IL.

Sunday, September 24: White Sox 3, Red Sox 2

The Pale Hose had enough tallies in a rain-shortened contest to pull off a rare series win — their first in six weeks, in fact. On a measly four hits and three walks, they produced three runs over six innings.

In the top of the first, Luis Robert Jr. swiped his 20th bag of 2023. He is the only player in team history with 35 homers, 35 doubles, and 20 stolen bases in a single season. Congratulations, Luis.

Naturally, this was the play where Robert injured his knee, forcing him out for the season.

Elvis Andrus took over the leadoff spot for a scheduled Tim Anderson rest day and hit a big two-out double in the top of the fifth, giving the Sox a 2-1 lead. In the top of the sixth, Chicago scored the third and final run of the game off an Eloy Jiménez double, Andrew Vaughn single, and Gavin Sheets sacrifice fly.

Redacted earned his second win of the week, yielding two runs on five hits over six innings and earning his second “complete game” in as many starts.

The Defensive Disport of the Week

Benny Knows the Monster

Andrew Benintendi, the 75 Million Dollar Man, played a knock by Justin Turner off of the Green Monster in left field on Saturday like a guy getting paid the big bucks. Turner tried to stretch his 99.1 mph, line-drive single into a double, but Benny had other plans and easily threw him out at second.

The Week’s Top Three Biggest BLASTS

Yoán Moncada, 412 feet, Tuesday, September 19

Moncada smacked a fly ball to right-center field in the top of the seventh, giving the Pale Hose a 2-1 lead.

Luis Robert Jr., 398 feet, Monday, September 18

In the top of the fifth inning, La Pantera cranked his 36th bomb and ended his September homerless drought. The four-bagger put the Good Guys ahead, 3-0.

Luis Robert Jr., 386 feet, Tuesday, September 19

Robert had a rough month but performed better over what turned out to be the last seven games of his season. In the top of the fourth in Tuesday’s loss, he hit his 37th knock, giving the White Sox a brief, 1-0 lead.

Prospect Peek

One of the system’s best offensive minor league players this year was 1B/DH Tim Elko. Although he isn’t even one of the team’s Top 30 prospects, this dude is a PLAYER. The writers here at South Side Sox put him at No. 81 in our preseason rankings.

While researching his information, I searched for his nickname, but it seems he doesn’t have one yet. So, I’m conjuring up my best Hawk Harrelson imitation and giving him one myself, Captain America. If the White Sox are looking for leadership, this guy is IT. He radiates South Side vibes. Chicago selected him in Round 10 (No. 311 overall) of the 2022 MLB draft out of Ole Miss, where he played five seasons and served as captain for three years. He slashed .294/.392/.593 with a .985 OPS and led the Rebels to their first national championship in 2022. Elko owns the university’s single-season home run record with 24, ranks second all-time with 75 RBIs, and get this — 43 walks, which is 10th overall. You read that right; he WALKS!

His list of college accolades is way too long even to list here, but just those he received in 2022 include:

  • SEC Community Service Team
  • Second Team All-SEC
  • ABCA All-South Region
  • 2022 Ferris Trophy Finalist
  • Coral Gables Regional MVP
  • College World Series All-Tournament Team
  • NCBWA Third Team All-American

His college teammates and coaches rave about him and his leadership. En route to their College World Series appearance, Ole Miss head Coach Mike Bianco quipped that their captain needed a statue on campus. The ever-humble Elko said, “I don’t really want one. I kind of just want one of all of us holding the national championship trophy. That’s all I want.” Give me 25 more of these guys. Please, White Sox.

At 6´4´´ and 240 pounds, the big righty smashed his way through three minor league teams in 2023, including Kannapolis, Winston-Salem, and Birmingham. Across all levels, he combined to hit .295/.347/.527 with a .873 OPS, 28 no-doubters, and 38 walks. In September, he was named a Carolina League All-Star after hitting .297 with 17 HR and 57 RBI this season with Kannapolis.

Here’s some trivia: Despite leaving Kannapolis near the end of June, Elko tied for the Carolina League lead in home runs ... for the season. He also led all Sox minor-leaguers and finished second in the White Sox organization in homers with 28, behind Luis Robert Jr.’s 38.

One of the most significant weaknesses in his game is, not shockingly, strikeouts. Like many hefty power guys, he takes a lot of Ks — 165 of them this season across 131 games. If he can work on being more selective in the zone and get that K% down, Andrew Vaughn may have some competition in Chicago sooner rather than later, and I’m here for it.

The 24-year-old should start 2024 in Birmingham, and it would not be out of the question for him to get to Charlotte quickly. Pick Captain America if you want to watch someone down on the farm next year. You won’t be disappointed.

Other Tasty Tidbits

Chris Getz beefed up the front office last week when he hired Josh Barfield, Brian Bannister, and Gene Watson. On Friday, the team officially announced Barfield as the assistant general manager, Bannister as senior advisor to pitching, and Watson as director of player personnel. The best thing about these hires is that they weren’t insular. Despite Watson being another Royals castoff, Bannister and Barfield look to be solid additions to the Sox 2024 rebuild efforts.

Running Down the Rehabbers

Well, it was an ugly week for Pale Hose pitchers and the IL. Gregory Santos, Michael Kopech, and Jesse Scholtens all headed to the 15-day injured list. Santos reported discomfort in his right elbow, Kopech had surgery to remove a cyst from his right knee, and Scholtens injured himself running in pregame warmups. So, if you thought last week was ugly, wait until this week.

Garrett Crochet returned to the big-league club from his injury assignment in Triple-A Charlotte. He captured Friday’s loss in the eighth when he gave up one run on two hits and one walk in just two-thirds of an inning. Hopefully, an offseason of work can get the lefty back to form. We need Garrett to be healthy if there’s any hope for this dreadful bullpen’s future.

What’s next?

Ah, it’s the bitter end of 2023 White Sox baseball. The Good Guys close out the season at home with two teams still battling for the playoffs. First up are the Arizona Diamondbacks for three games; Arizona owns the second Wild Card spot, 4 1⁄2 games behind the Philadelphia Phillies by and ahead of the Chicago Cubs by a half-game. The D-backs are 82-73 and sit second in the NL West behind the division-winning Los Angeles Dodgers. Turning things around from their 2022 74-88 fourth-place finish, Arizona hopes for their first postseason appearance since they won the 2017 Wild Card game and ultimately lost 3-0 to the Dodgers in the NLDS.

The final three-game set is against the San Diego Padres, who have fleeting playoff hopes. Mathematically still in the hunt, they are five games out of the NL Wild Card, with three teams ahead of them. Owning a 77-79 record and the third-highest payroll in MLB, the Padres have had a downer of a season. Hopes were high when they signed one of the offseason’s most prominent free agents, shortstop Xander Bogaerts, and inked new deals with Yu Darvish and Manny Machado.


Who are you most excited to watch next season?

This poll is closed

  • 40%
    Luis Robert Jr.
    (4 votes)
  • 20%
    Dylan Cease
    (2 votes)
  • 10%
    A real right fielder to be named later
    (1 vote)
  • 30%
    Jake Burger playing for the Marlins
    (3 votes)
10 votes total Vote Now

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