Tim Anderson’s return opens yet another big week for the White Sox

Back in 2020, as the negotiations dragged and hopes strained for a way to start the pandemic-altered season, every week introduced itself as a “big week for baseball,” so much so that it became the name of Marc Carig’s column at The Athletic. The phrase grew increasingly trite through repetition, yet its usage was always defensible because there wasn’t a strong sense of what was the most likely outcome. Catastrophe always remained in play.

The White Sox’s season has been similarly susceptible to such dramatization, because the team has spent every day of the month between four and six games out of first place. One big week can have them in the driver’s seat, and one terrible week can bury them.

Instead, they keep finding a way to avoid either end of the spectrum. They’re 8-9 in June, but so are the Twins. The Guardians are the ones trying to change the dynamics of the division, but their 13-4 surge this month hasn’t been enough to spend a single day out of second place.

So the White Sox embark on a new big week, and with important new story lines. Last week, it was the return of Lance Lynn, the questions surrounding Michael Kopech’s ability to throw anything resembling a normal start, with Liam Hendriks’ injury throwing a flexor-straining curve into the mix.

With no off days in sight, Lynn and Kopech’s sustainability will remain an open question into the week, while Lucas Giolito is trying to recover his mechanics on the fly

“I have an idea,” Giolito said of what went wrong. “There’s obviously improvements to be made. But I have confidence in myself, so I need to keep grinding. I felt like with the mechanical stuff, today was a step in the right direction. When it comes to actually pitching and executing, I need to be better.”

… and Lynn and Giolito will get the privilege of fixing themselves against a Blue Jays team that is hitting .293/.361/.518 in June, and has outhomered the White Sox 33-14. (Toronto has played one more game, but I’m assuming the Sox don’t have a 15-homer outburst to close the gap to something more negligible.) If they aren’t able to go deep into games, here’s the first week that pitching staffs are capped at 13.

On the position-player side, the White Sox will welcome back Tim Anderson, who is expected to return to the 26-man roster and bat leadoff tonight, even though he never seemed to run full speed at any point during his rehab stint in Charlotte. The hope is that he was running smart instead of merely running hard, rather than avoiding running hard because his groin still smarts.

In an unfamiliar-but-welcome twist, the bullpen comes into the game with all its high-leverage options well rested. Between the mostly low-leverage scores and useful multiple-inning outings from Tanner Banks, Reynaldo López and Vince Velasquez, Kendall Graveman didn’t have to pitch at all against his former team, while Joe Kelly only warmed up late in the rubber match Sunday. Which is good, because with Hendriks and Aaron Bummer out, and Matt Foster slumping before going on the bereavement list, Graveman and Kelly are the only obvious calls in the next close-and-late situation.

Basically every aspect of the White Sox’s season remains precarious, and if they seem more stable, it’s only because we’ve grown accustomed to the turbulence, and their steadfast refusal to trend. In the meantime, let’s wildly speculate on how the White Sox will make room for Anderson.

Take a second to support Sox Machine on Patreon
Default image
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.

Articles: 3396
Subscribe
Notify of
36 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
jorgefabregas

Hey, if I could make an off-topic comment: my kid would really like a shirt from Pride night, which is June 23. If anyone thinks they can wrangle an adult medium (I think they only come in two sizes), please DM me on twitter (@pretzelpasta). Willing to pay a fair price + shipping.

GrinnellSteve

If no one can help you, flag down Liam. I bet he’d step up.

Law&Law_Attorneys@Law

Mine is already claimed, but taking my neighbor to the game. If I can convince him to give it up we can work something out.
If my neighbor is good with it I will DM you.

Great, thanks! If not, no worries.

mikeschach

Here’s a wildly, speculative – not overly stupid, but hardly smart, idea.
Move Mendick, who has been hitting, to second and Harrison, who hasn’t (since middle of last season), off the team.

itaita

Get this hothead out of here with his normal run baseball team roster assumptions.

HallofFrank

In June, Harrisons’s OPS is 50 points higher than Mendick’s and his wRC+ is 20 points higher. June Harrison is exactly who Hahn thought he was signing when he signed him. Why DFA him as soon as he shows up?

a-t

That’s also in all of 35 PA. Harrison is getting less playing time, Mendick has a bit less than double the June PAs this year.

upnorthsox

Not even, it’s mostly a 6 for 11 in 3 games and one of those was 3 of 5 vs the Tiggers.

HallofFrank

Okay, do you want to look at last year, too? Neither of these players are good options. So go with the hot hand. Right now, Harrison is the hot hand. I’m not saying he’s the guy for the rest of the year. But this is exactly the Harrison we’ve all been waiting for—and everyone wants to cut him.

upnorthsox

And just like that you’re like Nostradamus.

upnorthsox

Mendick has been on base in 15 of 16 games in June. I still don’t expect them to DFA Harrison today though.

Last edited 6 days ago by upnorthsox
soxygen

His June BABIP is .400 and his BB/K looks a lot like his April numbers. It’s a small sample, and there were some cheap hits in there.

HallofFrank

And it was .172/.214 in April/May, while Mendick’s was .333/.444.

Again—my only point is that Harrison has been hotter than Mendick lately, which strikes me as relatively uncontroversial. I’m not particularly confident in either moving forward. But this is the version of Harrison worth rostering. It’d be foolish to cut bait now. I’m sure he’ll taper off again at some point. Then, DFA.

soxygen

Harrison’s hard contact rate has actually gone down from 24.1% in April, to 22.8% in May, to 8% in June. Obviously his results have been good, but a lot of the time he isn’t making great contact.

HallofFrank

His Soft contact % is down and LD% is way up (28% from 10%). He’s not crushing balls, but he’s consistently hitting line drives hard enough.

But this just feels like grasping at straws. Call it luck, small sample size, call it whatever you want—he’s hot right now. Like Mendick, the hot hitting is likely just a wave. But why not ride the wave? Unlike Mendick, Harrison has at least shown the ability to be an above average regular for months at a time. And as recent as last season.

soxygen

I guess the questions are whether there is a wave at all and whether it worth riding.

If you believe in the contact then maybe there is a wave to ride. But batting average & slash line over a 35 AB sample isn’t a very good basis for confidence going forward.

In the end, even if you think he is heating up, if he isn’t noticeably better than Mendick then there isn’t any particular reason to want to get that performance from Harrison rather than Mendick.

Last edited 6 days ago by soxygen
HallofFrank

It’s not a wave I care to ride—but I’m not eager to hop on the Mendick wave, either. We’ve ridden that wave before, and it’s usually going nowhere.

I don’t know what you mean by “believe in the contact.” I’m not a Harrison apologist. I just prefer him (for now) over Mendick which is a… very low bar. And it’s not based only on a 35 game sample. Again: Harrison has shown something Mendick hasn’t—the ability to be an above average regular for months at a time. And he did it just last year, while Mendick’s OPS started with a 5.

soxygen

Sounds like we have similar views of Harrison and Mendick.

The difference is that I wouldnt be ready to say that Harrison has a hot hand based on this fairly ambiguous sample of 30 some at bats that includes 3 infield hits and a hit off of a position player, a very low walk rate, and not much hard contact.

That said, Harrison hit a home run tonight so what the hell do I know!?!

Last edited 5 days ago by soxygen
mikeschach

Or, I don’t know, maybe play Harrison. He’s probably due for a HR and some highlight reel defensive plays. 🙂

GrinnellSteve

Assuming no IL stints, it has to be Harrison or Haseley. My bet is Harrison. Moncada could still be the one to head to the IL, though.

chipporter

It would not be, just plain stupid to send Haseley down instead of DFA’ing Harrison, it would be galactically stoopid. So, that’s what the Sox lack of brain trust will do.

upnorthsox

Don’t they still need to drop a pitcher?

Foulkelore

Not at the moment. When they called up Haseley, they put Foster on the bereavement list so they had 13 pitchers. They will when Foster is off of bereavement.

Last edited 6 days ago by Foulkelore
As Cirensica

TLR with a 13 reliever bullpen? I hope the days of the White Sox carrying quasi injured guys that are “unavailable” in the roster are over. This team needs all the arms able to pitch.

Last edited 6 days ago by As Cirensica
Right Size Wrong Shape

What?

upnorthsox

They’re already carrying the “unavailable” Garcia so too late for that.

Question for the class, was Ryan Burr DFA’d and cleared waivers?

chipporter

He was not DFA’d he was granted his outright release by request.

As Cirensica

Don’t forget the “unavailable” Moncada.

soxygen

Re the week ahead, Baltimore has played half of their games against the AL East. I’m glad we haven’t had 34 games against the Yanks, Jays, Rays, and Red Sox.

Last edited 6 days ago by soxygen
Hulksmash

Looking at this week ahead, it’s hard to say these are “must win” games, particularly when the Sox have 90+ left to go.

But, anything less than closing this month with a 7-3 stretch might be occasion to become sellers come July.

Maybe it’s premature to say that, but if this team doesn’t rev the engine now, I don’t know if they will–and if their will be enough time to make up for months of mediocrity.

soxygen

I agree. And while the schedule is definitely getting easier, a west coast road trip followed by a home series against the Twins could be a rough stretch…and following the Detroit series we have 8 games in 7 days against the Guardians and Twins going into the break. It’s not going to be easy to get our heads above water in that stretch given our current health concerns.

metasox

I don’t know about must-win stretch. But they kind of have to do well in games against the Guardians and Twins, regardless

Last edited 6 days ago by metasox
36
0
Join the discussion!x
()
x