Jimmy Lambert’s up, but Dane Dunning’s down

Jimmy Lambert (Clinton Cole)

Jimmy Lambert made his Cactus League debut on Tuesday against Kansas City. He survived for two scoreless innings, which is an accomplishment for a Cactus League debut. He looked overamped early, letting all his fastballs fly away and dropping a curveball onto Hunter Dozier’s helmet to put himself in an immediate jam.

Lambert likes riding the high fastball, but it was excessive even by his standards, and he eventually lowered them enough to pump two heaters past Jorge Soler for a strikeout. Preston Tucker misread a flare to left for a single that loaded the bases, but Lambert danced out of the inning by finishing off a 3-6-1 double play.

By comparison, the second inning was a cakewalk, as he only had to pitch around a one-out walk and field a two-out bunt from Terrance Gore, who doesn’t even try to hit anymore.

It could’ve gone better. Lambert couldn’t throw either of his breaking balls for strikes, which made the potential swing-and-miss ones below the zone much easier to lay off.

But the other pitchers showed it could’ve gone worse. Carson Fulmer and Nate Jones both gave up homers, and Randall Delgado gave up two of them. All three pitchers have double-digit ERAs. Lambert’s is 0.00. Lambert wins the day, and his self-assessment aligns with mine:

‘‘I would have liked to throw more strikes and maybe more breaking balls for strikes, but I got out of it, so I guess you can take that out of it,’’ Lambert said.

Indeed.

A fifth-round pick out of Fresno State in 2016, Lambert sneaked up on people last year, posting more strikeouts (110) than baserunners allowed (106) over 95⅔ innings last year. The only thing keeping it from a true breakout season was an oblique injury that truncated it all in late July, but he still received rave reviews from inside the house:

If Lambert wants to spend 2019 reinforcing his credentials and toying with a September call-up, the White Sox would welcome the development, because it looks like Dane Dunning will be vacating that particular role on the depth chart after his elbow flared up again. It’s manifested itself this time in forearm soreness, and he’ll be reevaluated this week.

Should Dunning have to go under the knife, the White Sox rebuild will have lost two of its top three pitching prospects for the year, with only the previously delicate Dylan Cease side-stepping disaster thus far.

This Dunning quote probably suggests everybody at Camelback Ranch was bracing for this outcome …

… but when paired with Luis Basabe’s broken hamate bone, it’s already another grisly spring for the top of the White Sox farm system.

Whereas Basabe’s plate appearances in Birmingham can be readily absorbed by multiple other credible center fielders named “Luis,” replacing Dunning is going to require a little more finger-crossing. As long as Alec Hansen remains enclosed by scaffolding, attention will turn to Lambert’s neighborhood in the White Sox prospect list. That area — which includes Bernardo Flores, Jordan Stephens and Kodi Medeiros down the line — requires a little more wish-casting.

Lambert is the best equipped to step into the spotlight, but in an ideal farm system, he’d do so under different circumstances. At some point during this rebuild, the White Sox would prefer having a pleasant surprise crash the party, rather than needing one to offset a previous tragedy.

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Willardmarshall

Don’t organization guys ever get hurt?

PauliePaulie

Hope the Sox can get some prospects to reach their ceilings.

roke1960

It won’t matter if Jerry and Rick won’t supplement them with bona fide major leaguers.

GreatjonHumber

Yep. There are never going to be enough prospects. And once you start biffing on multiple high first round picks, it becomes impossible.

PauliePaulie

Step 1 was supposed to be getting a “critical mass” of high end prospects.

With Dunning, Hansen, Kopech, Burdi, Burger, Adolfo, Basabe, Robert, Rutherford, Giolito, Anderson, Moncada, Collins and Fulmer all injured, stagnant or regressing going into year 3 of the rebuild, I think the current concern should remain there.

roke1960

Making the guys in charge of the rebuild the same guys who made it necessary was the first big mistake. Compounding that with the refusal to spend any significant money on quality free agents makes this rebuild a likely failure. But that’s the Jerry way.

35Shields

“critical mass” is always a season away.

karkovice squad

Apparently we’re supposed to look past all that because they have a top 5 farm system. Makes you wonder how shitty the 26 teams behind them really are.

35Shields

Just over a year ago, Jake Burger tore his ACL. Think about how the rebuild looked then and how it looks now.

In the intervening 12 months, we’ve had:
– Kopech TJS
– Dunning elbow injury, elbow re-injury
– Burger ACL re-injury
– Hansen mystery elbow injury/complete unraveling
– Robert’s series of “does he have glass bones and paper skin” injuries limiting him to a career-high (!) 208 PAs
– Basabe breaking his hamate bone
– Burdi coming back from TJS with velo concerns
– Giolito being the worst pitcher in Major League Baseball
– Fulmer being too horrendous to even qualify as the worst pitcher in Major League Baseball
– The enormous Machado whiff and $49m spent on players who by-and-large are not good at baseball

On the bright side, at least we’ve had:
– Timmy, Moncada and Lopez having seasons between ‘acceptable’ and ‘pretty decent’
– Eloy being great
– Cease being healthy

NDSox12

Burger’s injuries were to his achilles, not ACL. Similarly debilitating though.

tommytwonines

Good post, but you forgot:

– Adolfo needing TJS
– Failure to trade Avi or Abreu
– Top two catching prospects still looking like they’re not catchers
– Rodon coming back, looking great for a bit, then mediocre

I know we’re still missing some things, but it’s bad for the soul to contemplate this too long.

PauliePaulie

I can’t believe we’re viewing .687 and .714(from a former #1 ranked prospect and centerpeice of the Sale trade) OPS’s, and 5.22 xFIP as bright side.

tommytwonines

Everybody wants a top-notch free-agent position player for the Sox – so do I – but they’re going to need to spend real money for an established pitcher, probably two, considering injuries and mediocre performances from the pitching prospects.

PauliePaulie

If they end up spending $40mil/per on 2 pitchers to replace the ones that gave them 10 bWAR at $10mil/per, I’m walking away.

roke1960

If any of us had any sense, we’d walk away now and save ourselves the misery.

PauliePaulie

I feel an obligation to give a rebuild 5 years.
They just insist on making that difficult and occasionally painful.

fustercluck

it might be a rolling 5 years

karkovice squad

I feel no obligation to buy their spin. They’ve been rebuilding since 2013.

roke1960

I bought their lies this winter that they were going to spend money when the time was right. If being one of only 3 or 4 teams bidding on 2 26-year old generational talents isn’t the right time, then I don’t think they will ever spend big. Forget Cole, Bogaerts, Sale, Rendon and all the others next winter. The pool of teams bidding will be larger. Their big signing next winter will be some 2nd rate player that they wanted when he was good 10 years ago.

craigws

I’m sure they’ll try to get Sale back on the cheap, relying on the value of the past relationship.

As Cirensica

@karkovice squad
Since 2013, and you can safely add a couple more years of “rebuilding” as I don’t see the White Sox competing this year nor next.

So, yeah…..great!

karkovice squad

They’re going to make the Royals’ “process” look swift.

tommytwonines

But you also got Moncada, Kopech, Basabe, Diaz (!), Jimenez, Cease (and Rose and Flete) – paint the full picture.

PauliePaulie

True. Maybe they’ll get 4.5 WAR from that group this year.
And hopefully it won’t take 4 or 5 of them to get over 10 WAR.

roke1960

I would expect that group to produce 10 WAR or better starting in 2020.

karkovice squad

So 6+ players to not even completely replace the production from the 3 they traded?

To say nothing of the playoff appearances and World Series.

tommytwonines

Well it’s 6+ players replacing 2 in this case – Sale and Quintana. The Eaton trade is separate.

And EVERBODY knew the trades, based on WAR, would be skewed towards the Red Sox and Cubs in the first two years – it’s apples and oranges, minors and majors.

But Jimenez alone will put up better WAR than Quintana over the next five years. And Sale would have been under contract for only one more year. And the Sox were not poised to win anything the last two years. And, hey these trades are looking pretty good.

You wouldn’t make them again?

karkovice squad

I was opposed to the teardown from the start. That this is the best they could do hasn’t changed my mind.