Four months ago in this space I wrote this entry: Horrible season for White Sox may portend bright future.
Okay, the situation has improved somewhat since May, when the South Siders were on pace to lose a club-record 117 games, which would be just short of the modern day record for futility, 120 losses, which was well, uh, achieved I guess, by the 1962 New York Mets.
With thirteen games left in the 2018 season, the White Sox need just four wins to avoid the landmark millstone of 100 losses. The Sox haven’t reached a triple digit “L” season since 1970.
Two weeks ago I was in attendance at Guaranteed Rate Field on Hawk Day, which honored the retirement of longtime White Sox television broadcaster Ken “Hawk” Harrelson, whose best seasons as a player were with the Boston Red Sox, the South Siders’ opponents that day. The Red Sox are enjoying a stupendous 2018, they’ve already collected 102 wins. But the team Harrelson calls, this is one of his “Hawkisms,” the Carmines, were vulnerable when they visited Chicago, as they were enduring a rash of injuries among its pitching staff, including Chris Sale, who was traded by the White Sox to Boston in 2016 for several prospects, including Michael Kopech.
Kopech jerseys, number 34–Walter Payton’s retired number with the Chicago Bears–were prominently displayed in all of the Guaranteed Rate Field gift shops.
The White Sox split the four game season with the Red Sox; the game I attended was an 8-0 winner for Chicago. It was the South Siders’ sixth straight series without losing one of those series. Not only was the future bright for the White Sox that day–so was the present.
The White Sox are obviously a better team since I wrote my spring Da Tech Guy post. But injuries have plagued the team. Nate Jones, their closer, suffered what was thought to be a season ending forearm injury. But he was back in the bullpen on Friday, picking up the save as the White Sox topped the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles, by the way, have already lost 106 games. Wellington Castillo, a veteran catcher, was signed as a free agent last winter, so he could mentor Chicago’s young pitching staff. But around the time of the Jones injury, Castillo was suspended for 80 games for violating Major League Baseball’s performance enhancing drug policy. And in July, for the second time this season, right fielder Avisail Garcia, was placed on the disabled list. As in the came with Jones, both players recently returned to the roster.
First baseman Jose Abreu brought some surprising good news to the Pale Hose as he became the first team member to be elected to the All Star Game as a starter since Frank Thomas, who is now a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, did so twenty-two years ago.
Pitchers duel pic.twitter.com/hKCgSijgqk
— Benjamin Hochman (@hochman) September 14, 2018
But the cruelest injury came this month. The top prospect in the White Sox farm system was right-handed pitcher Michael Kopech. His first big league three starts went well for him, including one against Boston on August 31. But two of those ended up being no-decisions as Kopech was pulled after long rain delays. In his final start, Kopech was hammered by the Detroit Tigers. A few days later it was announced that Kopech will likely undergo Tommy John surgery, missing the remainder of this season and all of the 2019 campaign.
So the present isn’t looking very good now.
But Kopech should be back by 2020, which has been the season White Sox fans have been looking towards as when the team makes its return to prominence. By then outfielder Eloy Jimenez, one of the prospects traded by the Chicago Cubs for another White Sox starter, is expected to be in his second season on the South Side.
Jimenez batted .337 in the minors this season.
On the quirky side, the White Sox have a Hamilton and Burr in the bullpen. That’s right, Ian Hamilton and Ryan Burr.
No other MLB team can match that pitchers duel.
John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.