First turn through White Sox rotation results in more spinning wheels

The Indians are going to try to sweep the White Sox with one arm tied behind their backs.

Lucas Giolito was supposed to square off against the other team’s ace for the second time in as many starts, with the hope that this one would go better than Opening Day. But no, Terry Francona is saving Bieber for their opener against the Twins on Thursday and starting Zach Plesac against the White Sox instead.

Given that the Tribe took two against the Sox with their fourth and sixth starters on the mound, using the fifth starter is not a bad strategy. Francona may as well see how far command alone works against the Sox while orienting his rotation to charge against a team that crushes damn near everybody.

This makes it a big start for Giolito, or at least larger than a start in the first week of the season should be. The White Sox are 1-4, which is also the balance of good starts and disastrous outings from their starting rotation. Carlos Rodón got knocked around early in the first and faded in the fourth Tuesday night, and it still qualifies as the second-most successful start by a Sox pitcher in 2020:

Dallas Keuchel5.13220013.38
Carlos Rodón3.245513412.27
Dylan Cease2.174420115.43
Lucas Giolito3.267723317.18
Reynaldo López0.234412054.00

Keuchel aside, the Sox starters all struggled in different ways: Giolito’s fastball command abandoned him, Cease couldn’t lefties to offer at his spinning stuff, Rodón is trying to figure out how to pitch with less power with the juiced ball, and López might be done for the year with a shoulder injury.

Giolito gets the first crack at solving his issues. which he attributed to “not driving down on the mound,” and which is reflected in the way he repeatedly missed high. Most seasons, a pitcher would get a few cracks at rounding into form, which is why the long view and the immediate are so difficult to negotiate this year.

For instance, Rick Renteria is correct when he says he “can’t afford to magnify” the hole they’ve dug, which is true. He says he doesn’t panic very much, which is indeed an attribute for a season of any length. But then he also says Nicky Delmonico is “going to hit anywhere I put him,” which falls in that box of immediate bad ideas I wrote about a few days ago.

The White Sox have a history of blind spots so severe that fans kinda feel like they have to jump on them before they do too much damage. And it’s such a history that when Ozzie Guillen slags Renteria between games for his lineups…

… it’s even more troubling, because Guillen has his own part in this history. A sizable chunk of the fan base thinks Guillen should be managing the Sox, even though 1) it’s mostly Guillen’s fault that he isn’t managing the Sox, and 2) he played a big part in the first three seasons of the White Sox’s current postseason drought thanks to his own bad lineups and player preferences. (Hey, how did Jim Thome end up on the Twins, anyway?)

It’s part of a troubling recent elevation of Guillen that also includes an interview with the Sun-Times where he mischaracterized player development in 2020 for the purposes of railing against it. I read this and don’t see anybody interested in moving a team forward.

“I watch everything in a ballpark from that dugout. How the [bleep] did more managers not know that every time there’s banging from [the Astros’] dugout, a certain pitch was coming? What the [bleep] were you guys watching? The goddamn [analytics] book they gave you, the tablet, the iPad? Then anyone can manage. Right now, a lot of players do whatever they want to do because the coaches are a bunch of kids with no credentials. I had [a coaching staff with] Harold Baines, Tim Raines, Joey Cora, Greg Walker, [Don] Cooper — I don’t think he’s the best pitching coach, but he made you believe you were the best [pitcher] that night. Now, you have players that are like, ‘Who the [bleep] are you? I’m going to call my high school coach or my dad. They’re better.’ Then what are we even doing here?”

The White Sox’s power structure is too tangled to allow them to aggressively pursue solutions from the outside, and the insularity of the White Sox has permeated the fan base to such a degree that a large portion of it looks at a guy who would only tangle those loyalties further while rejecting modern decision-making and sees a superior alternative. There’s a great big baseball world out there, but this — the repeated rapid disappointment, the panic, the anger, the resignation, the demands for previous ideas that already ran their course — is what happens when nobody counts on the White Sox actually exploring it.

Perhaps Giolito rights himself tonight, the White Sox find their stride against a softer on-paper opponent, and this snapshot ends up being small-sample panic after all. Or another Marlins outbreak happens, and none of this could ever be taken seriously to begin with. The White Sox can only control so much right now, but they should take note about how little confidence they’ve inspired by what little is within their reach.

(Portrait of Lucas Giolito by Carl Skanberg)

Take a second to support Sox Machine on Patreon
Jim Margalus
Jim Margalus

Writing about the White Sox for a 16th season, first here, then at South Side Sox, and now here again. Let’s talk curling.

Articles: 3915
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

In a White Sox world where something made sense they would hire AJ Hinch to manage the talent on this team. In the real White Sox world, Renteria will be here until he doesn’t want to be anymore.


to add, it could be hahn’s 8th straight losing season and his job is also safe and sound…..


Jerry will usually fire managers/coaches but his c-suite usually has unlimited job security. He tends to put all the blame at the coaches feet which makes little to no sense.

karkovice squad

So they can displace a manager from an underrepresented demographic with a white dude who could get them caught up on how the rest of the league cheats?

Most of the blame needs to be on the front office for handing Ricky a tissue-paper thin roster and expecting it to stand up against torrential downpours and gale force winds. I’m also not sure why we’d want that same front office to pick Ricky’s replacement or expect meaningfully different outcomes if they did.

Shingos Cheeseburgers

I have a sense that 2020 will be consequence-free for the Sox both in terms of players and staff. The Sox are slow to move on any real sort of change so (at most) 60 games under weird conditions definitely won’t be enough for them precipitate actual change.


A lot of dour in this season so far, but I think we’re all overlooking the fact that our true star pitchers are throwing great. Detwiler and Marshall have a combined shutout going through 7.2 innings this season, with 9 Ks to just 4 batters reaching base.


Is Detwiler next in line to start?

Right Size Wrong Shape

I’d like to see Dane Dunning. He’ll be 26 at the end of the year, so let’s see what he’s got.


Yes, if he is in good physical shape, he would make sense for some time

Greg Nix

I can already foresee Rick Hahn’s offseason interview after they finish 27-33 and nothing changes: “We don’t want to overreact to a small sample size. We’re very confident in the foundation we’ve built here and 2022 was always the year we foresaw our competitive window opening.”

Eagle Bones

Yup, followed by re-upping Mazara for his last arb year “because they didn’t get to see enough to make a real judgement” and exercising Encarnacion’s option.

As Cirensica

Add the signing of Jed Lawrie, Drew Smily and Bret Gardner to team-friendly one year deals as the highlights of the off season.


27-33 might be fortunate. If they cannot right the ship, my hope is they at least don’t go into a complete collapse


Of the front office responsible for player acquisitions and development, the only one I’d miss if there were wholesale firings is Marco Paddy. Signing Cubans has produced value for the team.

A fun (ha) idea for an article is reviewing how Minnesota and Cleveland have developed players since the rebuild began. Neither team had a Chris Sale or Carlos Quintana to trade away but have plenty of young, productive players helping them win now. Would the Sox, right now, be better off by poaching a random assistant GM from these two teams and letting that person have complete say over the manager, coaches, scouts, analysts, training staff, and grounds crew?

Eagle Bones

Do you also consider dental surgery to be fun?


On the subject of pain, Jimmy Lambert’s on the IL.

White Sox placed Jimmy Lambert on the IL with a forearm strain and recalled RHP Matt Foster from the taxi squad.

Lambert’s velocity was a touch down last night in his inning of work

— James Fegan (@JRFegan) July 29, 2020


Isn’t Lambert 13 months pretty much to the day away from TJ surgery? Do you think he was rushed back?

Eagle Bones

Still not the order I’m sure most of us would prefer, but at least it has the correct names on it (minus Madrigal):

Tonight’s White Sox lineup vs. Cleveland:

1. Tim Anderson (SS)
2. Yoan Moncada (3B)
3. Jose Abreu (1B)
4. Yasmani Grandal (C)
5. Edwin Encarnacion (DH)
6. Eloy Jimenez (LF)
7. Luis Robert (CF)
8. Leury Garcia (2B)
9. Adam Engel (RF)

SP: Lucas Giolito

— Sox On 35th (@SoxOn35th) July 29, 2020


Delmonico not in the lineup is a step in the right direction.

Eagle Bones

Also, looks like Lambert is hurt already. Forearm strain doesn’t sound great.

— Chicago White Sox (@whitesox) July 29, 2020


Madrigal should be up by Friday’s game, right?

Eagle Bones

Pearson is starting for the Jays tonight, so I’m assuming the extra year of control is now in hand.


Oh, but now they can game Super 2!

As Cirensica

The Jays have 3 wins. They are all in before it is late which was at game 1.


Could not agree with you more on Ozzie. Ozzie threw in the towel in 2011 because he wanted to go to Miami. He went to Miami and promptly made a fool out of himself there both on and off the field and got his ass fired. After his Miami firing it finely dawned on him that he was toxic and was unwanted by any mlb team . At that point he realized that the only way he could be relevant would be to wheedle his way back into the Sox good graces. Could you imagine how Ozzie would react if if an commentator was spouting off about him like he is now. Would he challenge him to a fight ? Would he sent his sons to beat him up ? I don’t think even Reinsdorf is going to buy his crap that he is more mature and it would be different this time around. Ozzie you screwed yourself by your idiocy . Be content by having employment seconding guessing active Sox FO and managerial personal and schilling for personal injury attorneys.

As Cirensica

I think the Ozzie in 2011/2012 is vastly different than current Ozzie. I know he did some awful things, but he did some good things too. The White Sox are starved for good things.


Yeah, and the good things were several years before he got himself fired, and he still clearly thinks analytics are for chumps and that his instincts are better than any numbers.

As Cirensica

Well…Renteria seems to lack both. So ….

lil jimmy

Just so you are aware. This is the Lance Armstrong defense.


I’d take Ozzie back as manager of this team right now. The man has won a World Series and he might have won another one for us if his MVP that year (Quentin) and star third baseman (Crede) did not suffer season-ending injuries in 2008. Ozzie has proven he knows what it takes to win. Renteria is a nice guy, but he’s never come close to a winning season. I have serious doubts about whether he’s the right manager for us at this particular time. When the Cubs faced a similar situation and were on the brink of finally contending, they got rid of Renteria and turned to a proven winner. Unless the Sox turn this around quickly, we should do the same.

It’s been almost 10 years since the Ozzie-Kenny squabbles led to Ozzie leaving. Both have said some stupid things, but I’m sure both guys are more mature now and have learned from their mistakes in this regard.

Ozzie has earned the right to question strategy and lineups. He’s one of a select group of managers to have won a World Series. In fact, he’s the only Sox manager in the past 102 years to have won such a title, something not even Al Lopez or Tony LaRussa could do in Chicago. Ozzie has earned credibility just like Steve Stone has done. Stone won a Cy Young Award, so when he makes an observation about what a pitcher should throw and whether a manager should take someone out of the game, he speaks from the voice of successful experience. We should look at Ozzie the same way. I don’t always agree with what Ozzie says, but we should respect his opinion.


Jerry Reinsdorf was the owner during the last World Series. Are you happy he’s the owner right now?

As Cirensica

Nick Markakis changed his mind and he decides to play for the Braves. Perhaps Kopech can reconsider?

As Cirensica

How long did his marriage last? I am no confident in the firmness of his decisions.

/tongue in cheek :p

Eagle Bones

Yeah, my first thought when I saw this headline with Markakis was “what has he seen that changed his mind?” I figured what’s going on now would make more guys opt out, not bring guys back.


Lol, I admit that just for a second yesterday I wished Ozzie was the manager, but only because he could handle the pitching staff! Reylo reaching a pitch count of 40 in the 1st, potentially making his injury worse, wouldn’t have happened on Ozzie’s watch.

Otherwise, bringing Ozzie back would be like throwing an aerosol can into a campfire.


It might be what this team needs, though. Some aggressiveness would help. Our current manager and his predecessor have been super-nice guys, and we’ve finished last, or close to it, for a number of years. Yes, we’ve been without controversy, but we’ve also been without winning seasons.


I’ll take both controversy and winning seasons versus having neither.


I remember lots of controversy (read embarassment) during the Ventura reign.

Josh Nelson

To add to the pitcher’s struggles, I looked at Pitch Result breakdown for 1st inning.

Lack of whiffs to start the game is a concern. Both Minnesota and Cleveland are not showing issues making contact early in games.

Eagle Bones

They’re stealing the Sox signs! Remove all trash cans from the park stat!


Hah, I should have known who interviewed Guillen in that Sun-Times piece