Alright, the Opening Day series with the Twins is over and we’ve now had some time to digest Sunday afternoon’s beatdown, so where does that leave the White Sox with five percent of the season in the books? With some soul-searching to be done.
This team (the players) spent both versions of Spring Training telling us that they were a team ready to win and win now. Well, let’s see it.
Sure, the Twins are coming off of a 101-win season and a league record for team home runs slugged in 2019, but what we saw this weekend even against your stiffest competitor in the division, isn’t going to cut it.
Let’s take a look at what worked, and what didn’t work this weekend and take a look at what lies ahead for the White Sox on their trip to Cleveland.
What are we doing here, Ricky?
You might have seen my story earlier with the same headline, but it has to be included in any post-mortem of that series, so let’s get it out of the way first.
White Sox skipper Rick Renteria made a bevy of inexcusably bad decisions this weekend, decisions that will cost this team a shot at the playoffs if he can’t get better at this in a hurry.
Starting Reynaldo Lopez against a team that he has a career ERA north of five against — and a 9.57 in 2019 alone — was a terrible idea. The White Sox were doomed from the start on Sunday. Dylan Cease has looked strong in his Summer Camp starts, and he’s just a better pitcher than Lopez, he should have started this game. Gio Gonzalez — pitched like crap on Sunday as well — might have even been a better option had he been the original option and been given the luxury of properly preparing for it.
Jose Abreu’s loyalty has to be curbed. I love me some Abreu as much as the next guy, but he’s 33-years-old with declining peripherals, especially against right-handed pitchers. That’s not to say that he’s not able to contribute to this team offensively, but he needs to be hitting lower in the order. There’s no excuse for Eloy Jimenez and Luis Robert hitting in the bottom four, while Abreu hits third. Feelings aside, that has to change.
When it comes to Leury Garcia, he’s just not a viable everyday second-baseman. Period. I don’t care that he hit two home runs on Saturday. He’s got 25 of them in over 1,600 major-league at-bats. He’s not good enough defensively, and he admitted on Saturday that he spent so much time working to be a better outfielder last year that he might be a bit off after being called on to step into this role in a pinch.
Garcia is a valuable part of this team. He’s a guy that can step into multiple roles and do a few things pretty well. Every winning team needs a guy like Leury Garcia — in the role that I just described, not an everyday role. Fortunately, that concern is in a likelihood, going to be alleviated shortly.
There’s really no good reason that Lucas Giolito and James McCann have been separated. It’s been well documented to this point, so we don’t even need to run down the reasons why they should be together. If your staff ace wants a personal catcher, give it to him. He hasn’t said this publicly (and he won’t), but he shouldn’t have to. Ricky should know better. If you want Grandal’s bat in the lineup on that day, DH him and sit Encarnacion. Or, slide Encarnacion to first and sit Abreu, depending on the matchup that day and who’s feeling it.
Those are the major things that not only jump out at me after this weekend but can be remedied on the fly. Here’s to hoping.
Luis Robert is, uh, Really Good
Luis Robert had one of the better weekends of anyone on the roster this weekend. He went 4-11 with a home run, a double, a pair of RBI, and a pair of runs. He did strike out three times, but he also drew a walk somewhere in there, and overall, that’s pretty solid for a kid making his big league debut against a team like the Twins.
With the glove, Robert didn’t miss a beat. He was everywhere and made pretty much everything look routine. He did lose his glove over the wall on Friday night, but the ball was in it, and I was amazed he even got there. His range is endless, and as 670 The Score’s Matt Spiegel said on his Hit and Run show on Sunday, you have to watch every game to really appreciate it. Luis Robert is appointment television, so tune in.
Here’s a fun stat from NBC Sports Chicago’s Christopher Kamka:
Dallas Keuchel looked good, right?
That’s the extent of the good this weekend when it comes to starting pitching. Lucas Giolito’s fastball command was non-existent on Friday night, and the Twins jumped out to a five-run lead early.
On Sunday, Reynaldo Lopez labored through 38 pitches before departing the game trailing by four runs with what is being classified as “right shoulder tightness,” at this point.
Two of the three starters this weekend placed the White Sox firmly behind the eight ball before the cardboard cutouts even found their seats, and that simply can not happen on a winning team.
Dallas Keuchel and James McCann worked to hold the high-powered Twins offense at bay for 5.1 innings on Saturday, long enough for the White Sox offense to get their legs under them, and it resulted in a 10-3 victory. Nothing Keuchel did was overly wowing, but he did what he’s paid to do. Throw ground balls, not walk hitters, and get outs.
The Adventures of Eloy (in Left Field)
I won’t spend too much time here, because as the roster is constructed (and due to Eloy’s vocal opposition of being a DH) nothing here is going to change anytime soon.
But I think it needs to be said, that Eloy has now injured himself three times playing left field, showing absolutely zero awareness for the wall, the warning track, or even other outfielders. On Sunday, he knocked himself out of the game ranging back on a home run that he had zero chance at taking away, and never looked back at the fence once.
If he’s staying in left field, substantial efforts to increase his awareness have to be made. He’s too good, and there’s too much invested in his bat to have him getting hurt playing sub-par defense in left field.
It didn’t go as planned, but Opening Weekend is over, and now it’s time to turn the page and take a look at the three-game series with the Cleveland Indians.
- Monday, 6:10 p.m. CT: RHP Dylan Cease (4-7, 5.79 in 2019) vs. RHP Aaron Civale (3-4, 2.34)
- Tuesday, 6:10 p.m. CT: LHP Carlos Rodón (3-2, 5.19 in 2019) vs. RHP Zach Plesac (8-6, 3.81)
- Wednesday, 5:10 p.m. CT: RHP Lucas Giolito (0-1, 17.18) vs. RHP Shane Bieber (1-0, 0.00)
- Nomar Mazara (unknown): Progressing well per Rick Renteria on Sunday, nothing further to report at this time.
- Reynaldo Lopez (right shoulder tightness): Will be evaluated this week, not scheduled to start in the Cleveland series.
- Eloy Jimenez (dizziness): Jimenez left Sunday’s game with light-headedness and dizziness shortly after barreling into the left-field wall. Status for Monday unknown at this point.
- Yoán Moncada: 4-9, HR, 2B, 4 RBI, BB in MIN series.
- Luis Robert: 4-11, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB in MIN series.
- Jose Abreu: 3-13, RBI, 3 K in MIN series.
- Tim Anderson: 2-14, 3 R, 4 K in MIN series.
Featured Photo: Ron Vesely, Chicago White Sox