Ideally, Oscar Colás would’ve made his White Sox debut in the middle of the season, whether as a short-term injury replacement or somebody who knocked down the door with his performance. That would’ve meant the White Sox tried harder to solve right field the first time, and everybody would’ve been able to enjoy that new-prospect promise.
You could say Colás is getting that chance now, but you have to be the forgiving sort. The combination of Gavin Sheets, Eloy Jiménez and Clint Frazier wasn’t getting it done, and Colás hit seven homers over his last seven games with the Knights.
That just requires you to erase your memories of Colás’ first MLB stint. First-month struggles shouldn’t be held against him, but they do temper excitement for one of the few potential internal jolts this team had in storage, because everybody knows what it looks like when it doesn’t work, and Lenyn Sosa showed everybody that the second take might not go any better.
Colás has plenty of company among the refurbished goods. Garrett Crochet is ramping back up toward multi-inning work as his rehab stint shifts from Birmingham to Charlotte, but from what we witnessed, he doesn’t look he’s ready to supplant Aaron Bummer as the go-to lefty. Liam Hendriks’ feel-good story got put on hiatus pretty quickly, and nobody should trust Yoán Moncada’s back. At least Colas’ problems are all typical developmental hurdles, and nothing that jeopardizes his physical well being.
Pedro Grifol said before the game that Colás “can help us turn this thing around,” but again, immediate success proved elusive.
Sure enough, the White Sox suffered a too-typical loss in Colás’ first game back, although he didn’t stand out. He went 1-for-4 with a bunt single, and while he struck out in his final plate appearance, he looked no worse than Andrew Vaughn or Jake Burger, who also flailed helplessly against Jordan Romano.
It’ll be pretty easy to tell whether anything has changed with Colás from his first audition to now, because his contact in April was terrible. He had the 18th-highest infield fly ball rate at 18.8 percent, and while “18th-highest” doesn’t sound especially damning, there’s a second part to this.
Among the 17 players with higher pop-up rates, Aledmys Diaz had the highest ground-ball rate at 48.4 percent.
Colás’ ground-ball rate during that stretch? 59.6 percent. Now throw in that 18.8 percent pop-up rate, and nearly 80 percent of his contact stood no chance of doing any kind of damage before luck got involved.
Colás has talent, and it’s always possible that he finds a key to unlock his production, but he also has so much room to improve before “progress” resembles “impact” that it’s hard to pin immediate hopes on him. The primary objective for his season is figuring out what he might be by 2025, and if Rick Hahn has difficult decisions to make well before then, well, whose fault is that.
Speaking of Hahn, it sounds like he did that thing where he answers a question by restating the premise of the question, at least if Daryl Van Schouwen framed the exchange correctly:
“Buyers or sellers?” is the question of the hour for a team trying to say it’s still in a division race after coming off losing a series to the 24-63 Athletics. The only reason deadline uncertainty might even exist is because of the poor division the Sox inhabit.[…]
“I’m not going to put a marker in the sand and say, ‘We need to rattle off 10 out of 14 or we’re doing this,’ ’’ Hahn said before the Sox gave up a lead in the eighth inning. “At the same time, we can see the calendar, we can see the games back. You want to have a reason to believe that this thing’s going to get right between now and Aug. 1.
“Obviously, we’ve got big decisions to make by Aug. 1.”
The White Sox went on to lose a late-inning lead to fall a game further back of the “top” two teams in the AL Central. When they’re within five games, you can talk yourself into a good week changing everything. When they’re seven games back, the only strong argument against selling is the guy who would be tasked with doing it.