If you can set aside the eight-game skid and three consecutive series losses to AL Central opponents, the White Sox have looked more or less OK. They’re 4-2 in their last six games, splitting a series against the Angels (which is fine) and taking both games against the Cubs (which is great at Wrigley). They could look a little more authoritative in victory, but a check of every morning’s scores show that most teams are strapped for runs. As long as the temperatures are going to linger below 50 degrees, survive-and-advance does the job.
Andrew Vaughn’s trip to the injured list threatens this delicate balance … unless it doesn’t. On one bruised hand, Vaughn’s has been the team’s best hitter. On the other, he last played in the Sox’s season-opening loss to the Angels, when a Mike Mayers inside pitch struck him squarely at the base of his right hand. The White Sox are 5-10 when Vaughn starts this year, and 6-3 when he doesn’t.
Maybe the White Sox’s biggest problem was masquerading as one of their best players???
Of course not, but the Sox are in better shape to live without Vaughn now than they were before. The White Sox placed him on the injured list this morning retroactive to Monday, so he’ll be eligible to return in a week, with Danny Mendick taking his roster spot.
Oddly enough, Vaughn’s absence might be more acutely felt if Eloy Jiménez were still healthy and Vaughn was the primary DH, because he’d be the unquestioned best use of at-bats for that role, especially when Yasmani Grandal is scuffling. In this world where Jiménez is out for weeks and Vaughn is playing left field most of the time, his vulnerability on defense is present enough to give his teammates a way to compensate for his absence.
(Vaughn survived by most metrics last year, but not so much right now. Statcast says he’s already 5 outs below average in just 24 chances in left field, when he was -3 over 153 chances in 2021.)
It starts with Luis Robert in center, who appears to have put the tweaked groin behind him. He’s 8-for-16 over his last four games, and made two great catches Wednesday night, going forward for one…
… and back for another.
If Adam Engel’s in the middle of the turnaround, it looks a little like that of the Ever Given. He hasn’t enjoyed a multi-hit game since the opening series against Detroit, but he has hit safely in four of the last five games while making the occasional rangy play in right field.
For instance, watch him cut off Patrick Wisdom’s drive to the right-center gap in the eighth inning, limiting him to a single, then try to picture Vaughn or Gavin Sheets doing the same thing.
AJ Pollock is the weakest link right now, which isn’t ideal given he represents the offseason’s biggest upgrade. He’s just 4-for-35 with a double and a walk since coming back from his hamstring injury, which makes me wonder if a 12-day absence after just two regular season games should’ve necessitated a rehab stint. But his return has lasted long enough that he may as well keep plugging away, and now there isn’t somebody he’s blocking.
With the outfield largely fixed, the guest appearances by Sheets or Leury García can be more carefully considered, rather than creating a two-plodder outfield with Robert trying to do three jobs at once.
Vaughn’s bat will be welcomed back whenever his hand allows him to swing with conviction, but it’s a pleasant change of pace when the Sox can lose a key member of their lineup, and everybody who has to step up more can be played with a purpose, rather than fingers crossed for a hot week at the plate and easy opportunities in the field. Sure, it requires Pollock doing more than he’s doing now to actually see it through, but that will continue to be true regardless of how Vaughn is feeling.
I think Pollock is due for a hot streak. He’s too good a hitter to continue to struggle like he has. And an outfield of Pollock/Robert/Engel is more than adequate defensively.
I’m a little surprised they didn’t activate Moncada to replace Vaughn on the roster. He’s had 5 games now down in Charlotte and should be ready to go. The lineup could surely use his lefthandedness and patience in the 2-spot.
When Robert hit the wall yesterday, my natural reaction was that he hurt his shoulder and was going to miss some time. That would have been devastating. Let’s hope he can continue to stay healthy and Abreu and Grandal can start hitting. Because the starting pitching (except for Keuchel) has been very good, and lately the bullpen (except for Bummer) has been outstanding. I feel a lot better that I did a week ago, but they still need to get (and then stay) healthy.
Lets put a brick wall in and have major baseball players run full speed right at it.
I just can’t wrap my head around Wrigley.
The place should have a padded green wall out there. It isn’t an English country garden.
Wrigley is an old (and outdated) stadium and generally there is an ivy in there.
They also pee and swim together in a communal trough, so…
As much as I hated the Metrodome the baggies were less perilous….
At least you can see fly balls at Wrigley. The Metrodump was the worst baseball park in history. I spent 25 years in Minneapolis and had to stop going to Sox games there in order to keep my sanity. I’ve never seen a field so responsible for plays that were routine in every other park.
My one regret in life is that I didn’t get to push the button that blew that cesspool up.
Wasn’t that entire wall rebuilt as part of the renovations? Why didn’t they figure out a different setup?
I think Pollock will tsrat hitting soon as well. He has been just Leury atrocious that I even wondered if there is an Avisail course left on RF.
The fact that at anytime our roster would have Leury, Mendick, and Harrison on it at the same time is either hilarious or depressing depending on my mood.
I used to be disgusted. Now I try to be amused.
No wearing Red Shoes or Red Sox this weekend.
I seem to remember Elvis Costello being interviewed on WXRT in 1986 and he mentioned Red Shoes in relation to the Red Sox.
Why is my memory telling me that they put padding underneath the vines at one time? I really thought they did so I was actually surprised that there wasn’t padding under the vines.
Unless the vines don’t grow over padding, in which case, screw the vines.
Between injuries and LaRussa’s non-sensible approach to starting lineups, it’s no wonder the Sox hitters can’t find a groove. Before Eloy went down, Vaughn (our most consistent hitter) was getting less ABs than Leury. I’ve said this a bunch on here, baseball is a game of routine because it’s a grind. Have the same starting lineup for a few days and get these guys into a routine and the results should follow.
I’m so sick of LaRussa messing with the lineup whether personnel or batting order (Leury hitting 2nd or 3rd should have been immediate termination) just because he can or wants to prove how much smarter he is than the rest of us.
Between playing a pro schedule for the first time and playing the outfield, Vaughn fell apart last season, both physically and in performance. And he hasn’t looked great defensively, if that means anything. Will not be surprised to see him get days off.
Any chance the Sox would be interested in Dexter Fowler? Am thinking of added depth as well as someone to get DH bats.