One of the less desirable features of the idiosyncratic 2020 season is the new sense of dread that foreshadows every email with the subject line “WHITE SOX ANNOUNCE [X] ROSTER MOVES.” No news is generally good news this year, so the higher the number of roster machinations, the more the likelihood of a terrible development reaches 100 percent. There just aren’t enough underperforming relievers or exciting players on the cusp to make these emails little blessed surprises.
Sure enough, the White Sox announced four such roster moves this morning, and two of them are bad.
- Leury García: Moved to the 45-day injured list, because he severed the ligament in his thumb.
- Ian Hamilton: Became the latest pitcher to hit the injured list with shoulder soreness.
Moving García to the 45-day list allowed the White Sox to open a 40-man spot for Cheslor Cuthbert, who addresses the lack of infield bodies with both García and Nick Madrigal on the shelf. It just opens a whole host of other issues on the depth chart, but I’ll address that in a post after the doubleheader.
In terms of roster moves somebody might want to see, there’s only one that qualifies, and one whose short-lived nature means it gets the priority lane.
- Bernardo Flores: Recalled to serve as the 29th man for today’s doubleheader.
Hey, not terrible!
Flores will be the first player who really tests whether Schaumburg can mold a man, at least if he gets a chance. There’s a prospect in there, but one that wasn’t sprinting into 2020 at the peak of his powers. He broke out by posting a 2.65 ERA over 156 innings between Winston-Salem and Birmingham, and his reliability earned him the nickname of “Mr. Quality Start” from the fine folks with the Dash. He earned our affection with his intense interest in baseball history.
An oblique strain affected his ability to show up to the post every five days in 2019, and it also hampered his effectiveness year over year at Birmingham over an identical amount of innings:
It wasn’t all bad news. He elevated his strikeout rate out of unsustainable territory into one more befitting of a back-of-the-rotation starter. But his home-run rate also doubled in the pitcher-friendly environment of Regions Field, which might’ve been a reason why the White Sox spared him a promotion to Charlotte. A six-start appearance in the Arizona Fall League helped get him over the 100-inning mark, but not in a way that suggested he could’ve survived the rabbit ball in the International League.
Flores could be counted as part of the team’s pitching depth entering 2020, but while he cuts an unmistakable physical profile — tall, lanky, thick-rimmed shades on the mound — his potential contributions are much harder to distinguish. Between oblique strains and a major velocity dip a few years back that forced him to develop a kitchen-sink approach, I imagine he’s still trying to learn how to compete in the strike zone with his present-day stuff. His fastball was back in the low-90s the last we saw it.
The non-standard environment at Boomers Stadium doesn’t give him the needed lumps that Triple-A had in store, but the alternate training site is all he has. Rick Renteria might use him in Game 2, depending on how much work Lucas Giolito leaves for the bullpen in Game 1. He’s not so critical to the White Sox’s plans that they need to pitch him today. It’d just be nice to get his stuff on Statcast to have a better idea of what he’s bringing to the table in 2021, assuming his shoulder doesn’t abandon him immediately after like so many pitchers before him.
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Feel free to use this as the First Pitch for today.