White Sox call up José Rodríguez, among other moves

José Rodríguez (Jim Margalus / Sox Machine)

José Rodríguez is joining the White Sox, but Lenyn Sosa’s first cup of coffee last year says Sox fans shouldn’t get too ahead of themselves.

The White Sox called up Rodríguez as part of four roster moves this afternoon (credit to Dan Victor for breaking the news). He replaces Romy González, who heads back to the injured list with another episode of right shoulder inflammation. The Sox also placed Lance Lynn on the bereavement list, with Nick Padilla taking his place.

The swaps have a very temporary feeling, because it doesn’t seem as though Rodríguez is quite ready for his first real look. That said, he’s in better shape professionally than his season line (.238/.274/.429) indicates.

Rodríguez had gotten off to a miserable start, but a couple of significant factors teamed up to hold him back. His 2022 season ended with a broken hamate, and hand injuries aren’t the easiest thing to come back from (see: Benintendi, Andrew). There’s also the matter of the Southern League — and only the Southern League — using an enhanced-grip ball that tilted the league toward pitchers and threw strikeout rates out of whack.

Consequently, Rodríguez’s first 28 games were terrible. He hit .174/.211/.297, and his 28-percent strikeout rate nearly doubled his career norms entering the year. Even when he stumbled out of the gate in 2022 and suffered his first ever protracted professional struggles, he still made an above-average amount of contact. Quality was the problem.

But over his last 16 games, Rodríguez seems to have eliminated some of the noise from those variables. He’s hitting .353/.384/.662 with 11 extra-base hits over 73 plate appearances. The strikeout rate is still high — 22 percent — but it’s closer to a standard deviation.

If you’re optimistic about Rodríguez, you think he covers short well enough to make his combination of his hit tool and sneaky pop a factor, or that his almost-shortstop skills will play up at second, supported by his combination of the hit tool and sneaky pop. If you’re pessimistic, you might think that his success is predicated on effort and baseball sense than standout skills, teams will just wring weak contact out of him month after month, and his defense won’t be anything special.

My guess is that pondering Rodríguez’s greater place on the White Sox is premature. He’s the only other infielder on the 40-man roster, and if they were planning on boosting him to Triple-A in the near future, this is one way to do so. The Sox gave Sosa a surprise call to the majors under similar circumstances last season, but it ended up being a fancy promotion to Charlotte when the smoke cleared, because they just didn’t have anybody else to patch a roster gap, and they had to add Sosa to the 40-man roster at some point during the 2022 calendar for Rule 5 protection purposes.

González had resumed his struggles after his brief hot streak. He homered in three straight games from May 28-30, then went 3-for-26 with 12 strikeouts since. He had been relegated to pinch-running opportunities, and Rodríguez can serve the same purpose.

As for Padilla, he joins the White Sox as Tanner Banks takes the mound during what would’ve been Mike Clevinger’s turn in the rotation. Since Jesse Scholtens has pitched twice in relief since taking Clevinger’s spot on the roster, and since Padilla was recalled from Charlotte instead of somebody like Nate Fisher, it seems like today’s pitching plan will resemble a bullpen game more than a true opener strategy.

Either way, Chris Kamka notes that this will break the White Sox’s streak of 191 straight starts by right-handed pitchers.

The White Sox also revealed the starting lineup, which features Tim Anderson sitting for the second straight game. If he’s on the “unofficially unavailable” list, then Rodríguez’s ability to cover shortstop has even more value.

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As Cirensica

Thanks for the update and clarity. Is Clevinger going to the IL, do you (or anybody) know?

Vaughn hitting 2nd is comical incompetence. Sure, let’s put White Sox leader in double plays groundout in the 2nd spot. What could go wrong? I know there aren’t many pretty options, but you won’t hear me complaining if Robert Jr. hits 2nd.

davytudope

Mike Clevinger on the 15-day injured list retroactive to June 15, 2023. Right biceps inflammation.

As Cirensica

Didn’t know that. I feel I should have known that.

burning-phoneix

I don’t really see the issue. He grounded into 10 double plays in almost 300 plate appearances. Tim has played 20 less games, bats leadoff and has 7 GIDPS. Eloy has played in 30 less games and has 5.

Vaughn has the second highest walk rate in the squad, which isn’t saying much but you want Robert in the middle of the lineup since he’s a low OBP high SLG hitter.

Last edited 11 months ago by burning-phoneix
bobsquad

I normally don’t stress about batting order, but this one is validated by both the eye test and the data.

Vaughn’s wRC+ when…
batting 2nd: 88
bases empty: 77
no shift: 58

Apparently, this is what a 70 FV hit tool looks like when run through the White Sox developmental grinder.

Last edited 11 months ago by bobsquad
Adam

The interesting thing is Vaughn only hits with runners on, and Robert only hits with runners off.

So maybe if the leadoff man reaches, Vaughn has to immediately get him in. If leadoff man makes an out then Vaughn will follow leaving Robert to hit a solo bomb.

Sad but this may be the sox best chance at scoring.