With the first three series of the season in the books, we polled some of the staff writers here at White Sox Daily to see how they’re feeling ahead of the White Sox kicking off a four-game series with Cleveland this evening.
You can expect to see these staff roundtable discussions each Monday, recapping the week that was, and previewing the week ahead for the Pale Hose. This week’s roundtable features Danny Miller, Xavier Sanchez, and Logan Hard. Be sure to follow them on Twitter, and check out their thoughts on the first week(ish) of the season below.
How long does the “Yerminator” continue his feel-good story?
Danny Miller: Our very own Ian Eskridge turned me on to Mercedes a few years back. Since then I would guess I’ve been paying closer attention to him more than most. Of course, his coming back down to earth is inevitable, but I believe his approach, especially in two-strike counts, will allow him to continue to hit throughout the season.
Xavier Sanchez: I think his confidence and approach to the game will allow him to continue this for a week or two. I think he’ll eventually drop off but will continue to rake this season.
Logan Hard: Until his average drops 400 points would be my guess. He’s going to come back down to earth eventually, I just hope it’s not a “crash and burn so bad he’s in Charlotte by September,” kind of slump.
If he can level out and stay above average the feel-good story won’t go anywhere. With Eloy on the shelf, Yermin has taken over as the fun-loving goofball. If he keeps mashing, we need to get the campaign going to vote him into the All-Star Game.
What is the most troubling trend through the first three series?
Danny Miller: It would be easy to say the defense is troubling, but I believe it’s also something that will improve significantly, rather quickly. The injuries piling up have me concerned. If that trend continues, the depth of this team will be stretched to its limits, or beyond.
Xavier Sanchez: Defense.
Logan Hard: The lack of energy. I wanted to say the defense, but I feel like you could pop in a few Tom Emanski tapes and get Madrigal to buy in. (Side note, I 100% think Jerry Reinsdorf is the kind of old-timer that still has a VCR in his office)
It seems like Eloy getting injured sapped the life of this team. He is such a joy to watch and just gives off so much light and energy that when he went down, the mood shifted.
Jose is a team leader and he seems to be taking this the hardest. The memorial jersey, keeping the red batting gloves in his pocket, wearing them in game 1 against Kansas City. I love Jose, but him being affected so much is bleeding into the team as a whole.
Doesn’t help that Tim Anderson is also on the shelf. The swagger is missing from the team when he’s not leading off, but he will be back soon and can hopefully give them a boost of energy.
Conversely, what’s the most encouraging trend?
Danny Miller: The starting rotation hasn’t gotten deep into games very often early on, but that could probably be blamed on poor defense. Aside from the errors extending innings for opposing teams, the starting staff looks better than anything we’ve seen in a long time.
Xavier Sanchez: May not be what others will choose but extending at-bats and drawing walks. Currently have 41 walks as a team — second-most in baseball (Dodgers in 1st with 42). Next closest with 32.
Logan Hard: The Sox lead the AL in BB% and OBP and are third in all of baseball in OBP.
After that rough first week, It seemed like they were just swinging and missing everything and had zero pitch recognition.
But the eye test doesn’t always prove to be accurate. Going deeper on the numbers showed just how patient the team has been this season in the early going.
They have been leaving people in scoring position but the clutch hitting can’t slump all season and having such a good approach thus far should bode well for the future.
Early thoughts on the TLR experience
Danny Miller: I hoped for more from La Russa, even early on. I’m not a fan of the little league approach that everyone gets to play. These are professionals, and everyone has their job. Stick to that. Also, his prowess of being a bullpen usage guru has come into question. He’s taken the blame for some early SNAFUs, so I’m hoping he gets back to doing what he’s known for.
Xavier Sanchez: It is what is it. I’m would most likely say I am fine with it. Just wish he didn’t leave Foster in there so long.
Logan Hard: Cob-webby? Is that a word?
He looks like an old vet who clearly still has the passion and love for baseball but having been out of the dugout for a decade, he’s still taking a little bit of time to remember how to do everything.
Frankly, he’s admitting it, as he blamed himself for leaving Foster in the game to get knocked around, and for not challenged a play within the 20-second window. I think his support staff in Cairo/Duncan/McEwing/Narron is pretty stellar, and they can help him get his sea legs again.
As far as the clubhouse, I don’t think we’ve heard a peep so far about any issues. If anything it’s just been praise by Abreu and Giolito. It’s early but as long as they stay competitive, this won’t go full Bobby Valentine in Boston as I feared it might.
What will you be watching closely this next week, and why?
Danny Miller: This is where I’ll harp on the defense. It has been said that a pennant can’t be won in April, but it can be lost. I’m looking for more focus out of Eaton and Madrigal. If they continue down the path they’ve been on early this season, it could prove to be more disastrous than if the bats go silent. Between the two of them, they’ve already lost 3 games. That cannot continue.
Xavier Sanchez: Can more starting pitchers come out and have games like Lynn or at least go seven innings with minimal runs allowed. I mentioned in my tweet how I felt starting pitchers need to step up and help out their bullpen.
Logan Hard: How they play the Central. After shaking off starting the west coast (for some reason) with all those late games, the Sox get back to normal and have series’ against Kansas City and Cleveland.
The Royals, even when they stink generally, have already played the Sox hard. Unlike the other lower-tier AL teams, they actually made moves that could improve the team if only slightly.
Cleveland and the Sox just beat the holy hell out of each other last season. After selling off Lindor and Carrasco, it will be interesting to see how they match up with the Sox. On paper, they’re clearly heading in the opposite direction as the South Siders and I want to see how that plays out on the field.
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