White Sox winning, but White Sox bullpen lacks a shape

Rick Renteria only trusts his lefties, which means that he's going to have to take chances with his righties

Thanks to seven strong innings by Reynaldo Lopez, Rick Renteria was in his happy place during the late innings of Wednesday’s White Sox winner over the Yankees. He had just two innings to cover, and he could use his two most-trusted relievers to get the job done. Xavier Cedeno pitched a 1-2-3 eighth, Jace Fry kept a leadoff single anchored to first, and the Sox had a series victory to show for outplaying the Yankees in the Bronx.

The night before, things didn’t quite go Renteria’s way. James Shields couldn’t close out the sixth, try as he might. Fry got the game through the seventh, but that left two innings for righties. He used Juan Minaya for the second straight game, but he faced two batters and allowed a single and a homer. Dylan Covey fared better, but he was in the position of one pitch ending the ballgame, and a first-pitch fastball to Neil Walker did the job.

Minaya is a popular object of scorn for a few different reasons. He hasn’t been fun to watch on the whole, and because he’s been around more than the other righties, he’s had a lot more opportunities to foster the familiarity that breeds contempt.

Still, he’s been better since his early-season demotion. The walks have persisted (15), but they’re softened by more strikeouts (36) and a better handle on contact (.214/.323/.286) over his 29 innings after returning to the bullpen in early June. It resulted in a 2.79 ERA over the 33 outing leading up into the Yankee games, with 19 of his last 21 appearances being scoreless. He’s won more battles for Renteria than other pitchers, so it’s understandable why Renteria would lean on him until he broke. Give Jeanmar Gomez and Thyago Vieira those opportunities, and they’ll break sooner.

Ryan Burr? It’s harder to say. He made a fine first impression in his professional-looking MLB debut, during which he retired all four Tigers he faced, fanning two of them. He threw just 12 of 20 pitches for strikes, but didn’t walk anybody. Perhaps another way to put it is: He threw 12 of 17 pitches in the zone after getting the nerves out of the way.

Burr came out pumping 95 mph fastballs to Mikie Mahtook, but pulled them glove side and quickly found himself down 3-0 against his first big league hitter.

“I got to 3-0 and I was like, alright, I’m going to to throw it down broadway and see what happens,” said Burr, who recovered to strike out Mahtook with a high full count fastball. “Luckily I did that a couple times and he chased the last one. At that point you just throw it right over the plate, hope something good happens, but hopefully you don’t have to do that again.”

Coming on the heels of an excellent couple months in Charlotte — with peripherals besting everybody’s except Ian Hamilton‘s — we should be seeing more of him.

Then again, Burr said he wasn’t satisfied with his sliders, and that he’ll have to adjust to a major-league ball, so I can understand why Renteria might be reluctant to drop a rookie into high-leverage situations at Yankee Stadium. Thanks to sound starting pitching, high-leverage situations were the only ones available.

With the White Sox returning home against Boston, the “hostile road crowd” argument should be out. The other factor limiting Burr’s appearances might hang around a while. Should Sox starters like Lucas Giolito and Michael Kopech avoid proving FanGraphs wrong, Burr won’t be getting a heap of garbage time to hone his craft.

The White Sox are 16-11 in August, so Renteria’s done well to turn better performances into wins. Ideally, this improved play will continue over the final month of the season to lift everybody’s spirits about 2019, even if there’s little confidence in contending. There are complete efforts on a more regular basis, which is the whole idea.

But as the bullpen is expanded and distended in September, and with a good idea of Minaya’s capabilities, I wouldn’t mind seeing the Sox risk a losing month if it allows guys like Burr and Covey or Hamilton chances to falter over full innings. Perhaps multiple times. This is something that’s easier to say before it happens, but the fastest way to beating projections is with a completely crazy bullpen performance, and the easiest way to forge high-leverage relievers with fire is to do it when losses aren’t the worst thing in the world.

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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.

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roke1960

They need to start pitching Burr and bring up Hamilton and Frare in September. It’s not like these games mean anything, but they would be meaningful if we got to see what those 3 could do in the late innings. A back end of the bullpen with Fry, Frare, Hamilton, Burr and maybe Burdi or Jones might be really, really good over the next few years. I’m just not sure Ricky can manage them properly.

Marty34

I think Tyler Johnson will be up at some point next year too.

roke1960

Fry looked really good yesterday. That last pitch was nasty.

Brett R. Bobysud

Fry now has a 1.5 WAR on the season, leading the entire pitching staff.

Eagle Bones

He really does look good. Obviously the stuff plays up in relief, but it’s a shame he couldn’t stay healthy with a starter’s workload. He’s got a really nice set of pitches and he seems to command them all pretty well. I’ll settle for a good high-leverage reliever I guess.

ndsoxfan

I always knew you were a closet tanker, Jim

PauliePaulie

In what I believe is year the Sox decide to give up draft picks, MLBTRADERUMORS has posted the ’19/’20 Free Agent list.

Marty34

The more I think about it the more that Bryce Harper looks like the best fit for this rebuild.

PauliePaulie

I see the glut of OF prospects as enough reason to not do that.
The law of diminishing returns on WAR vs. $ spent and all that.

Marty34

4/2019 Jimenez, Engel, Harper
4/2020 Jimenez, Basabe, Harper
4/2021 Basabe, Robert, Harper with Jimenez moving to 1B.

Got to keep 3B open for Moncada when Madrigal comes up.

PauliePaulie

If any of Basabe, Robert, Walker, Rutherford, Adolfo, Gonzalez, Call can provide 3+ WAR seasons in a Corner OF spot during the window of contention, the $120 +/- saved over the next 4 years alone would be better spent replacing replacement level, or worse, production.
Not knowing how a single one of those players WILL pan out, is my other reason for avoiding a $300mil+ contract on an OF this offseason.

Lurker Laura

Bryce Harper is not playing for the White Sox, don’t care how much money they throw at him. He has been famous since he was 16 or whatever. He’s a spotlight guy. That’s not a bad thing, but the South Side is going to be too sleepy for him. 

roke1960

I agree. I think they have a better shot at Machado and have already a stated interest in him from last year. 10/$375 million might get it done. Then Moncada moves to the outfield when/if Madrigal is ready, and Eloy can move to 1st when 2 other OF prospects pan out.

roke1960

And if they wait til 2020 to add big, Arenado or Rendon could be available for 3rd.

egib52

Just throwing this out there, what kind of consideration would it take to get Arenado or Rendon to the South Side next year giving them a year to negotiate an extension. My guess is it would be cost prohibitive, but if Harper leaves Washington this year maybe they would be inclined.

NDSox12

I would be shocked if the Nats decided to blow it up just because Harper leaves. Scherzer, Strasburg, Rendon, Turner, Soto and Robles is a pretty good core. If anything, Harper leaving will significantly increase their odds of re-signing Rendon.

egib52

That is true, I failed to consider that it just frees up money for everyone else. It will be interesting where Harper ends up because if he gets eye-popping numbers it would handcuff several teams.

NDSox12

Personally, I would love to see Rendon in a Sox uniform. I think he is one of the most underrated players in baseball. I believe the best path to make this a reality would be for Harper to re-sign with the Nats, likely taking them out of the running for Rendon the following year.

As Cirensica

Rendon will be 30 yrs old in 2020. He probably will still be good, but I wouldn’t cry if the Sox don’t sign him.
Machado is the guy we need to sign!

NDSox12

Oh, I’d rather have Machado too. I’m not calling for Rendon as Plan A. But if Machado and Arenado move beyond the Sox reach…

egib52

I’d rather have Machado as well, but it doesn’t sound likely.

Eagle Bones

Still seems at least a year too early for that kind of move.

roke1960

At least a year too early?? I thought the window opened in 2020, even though it was originally 2019. If you wait another year to make a big move, then you are betting on everything coming together right away in 2020. Signing Machado this year gives them a year to sort out some things with a lot of the core present, so they can be ready to go for it in 2020. And if they happen to be better than expected next year, that would be a bonus. Or are you advocating pushing the opening of the window back to 2021? The Cubs and Astros, and this year the Phillies and Braves all seemed to “arrive” a year ahead of schedule. There’s no reason the Sox can’t continue that trend next year.

Eagle Bones

The comment was specifically in reference to trading for rendon or Arenado who are both only under contract for one more year.

roke1960

I agree that if they don’t get Machado, then they should wait til 2020 to try to get Arenado or Rendon. I don’t see any value in adding middling players like they did during Robin’s regime.

gusguyman

While I don’t think “surprise contention” is a reasonable expectation for next year, I think Machado is the exception to it being too early. He is young enough that he will be in his prime through the window (He is actually younger than Arenado). Adding his 6+ WAR makes .500 baseball a very reasonable bet, takes pressure off of some of the younger players, and could put butts in seats to open up more spending in the future. Plus the payroll next year is empty, so you could front-load a fair amount of the contract to help when our young players hit arbitration.

gusguyman

When checking ages for accuracy I also realized that Bryce Harper is younger than Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, and Tyler Austin which blew my mind.

PauliePaulie

Big $ to Machado, Rendon or Arenado, along with the rest of that rosy rosterbation, is my hope as well.

Patrick Nolan

The plot thickens

Marty34

Serves the Sox right.

Brett R. Bobysud

Good.

roke1960

Eloy will be leaving in his prime. Good job Rick.

Right Size Wrong Shape

Pay him more than anyone else will and he’ll stay.

roke1960

The best thing they could do is bring him up this weekend.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I’ve been hoping that they are just waiting for the rosters to expand. If not, that’s pretty disappointing.

As Cirensica

And here I thought Hahn was trying to save money by keeping him down

seven11

Don’t hold your breath on that one.

Anohito

Boy this is ridiculous. You’d think given the sox current situation and a rebuild hinging on players like Eloy they’d do well to NOT do stupid shit like this. Jesus christ. How much more can the issue be forced? Just call him up already! We don’t need this ugliness.

Marty34

Of course the Spx offered Jimenez a lowball deal. Honest to goodness instead of understanding their good fortune in having a prospect like Jimenez fall into their lap they have squeeze it for all it’s worth

joewho112

Worked out pretty well for the Cubs with Kris Bryant

Marty34

More
And it goes without say that Eloy and his camp turned down the offer

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whitesoxdave

@barstoolWSD
54m54 minutes ago
More whitesoxdave Retweeted Jon Heyman
I heard Eloy was offered a contract extension a la the Chris Sale deal prior to even stepping foot on a major league diamond, so he prob should have accepted that. Eloy’s agent should take it up with Tony Clarkwhitesoxdave added,
Jon Heyman
Verified account

@JonHeyman
Eloy’s agents displeased he’s still in triple a, might consider grievance https://fancredsports.com/articles/jon-heyman-eloy-jimenezs-camp-unhappy-hes-unlike
6 replies 13 retweets 36 likes
Reply 6 Retweet 13 Like 36

PauliePaulie

Take whitesoxdave’s stuff with a few grains of salt.

35Shields

I get the frustration, but it seems hard to have a grievance until the delayed call-up has actually impacted him financially. Until he loses out on a year of free agency or super two status, it seems reasonable for the Sox to delay until roster expansion to avoid wasting options.

If we get past this weekend and he’s still not up, then I get it. Although, I suppose this is mostly posturing to ensure that that will happen.

metasox

Agents are just doing what agents do. It is all much ado about nothing.

karkovice squad

Bryant said his grievance didn’t go anywhere, anyhow.

This is just posturing showing the Sox have used up some good will.

mikeyb

EDIT: Never mind, I was duped.

Anthony

“How to Lose Friends and Alienate Prospects”

metasox

Baseball is a business. I wouldn’t worry about it.