White Sox rotation stabilizes, putting offense under microscope

Davis Martin couldn’t quite follow up Johnny Cueto’s sterling debut because he had the gall to allow a single run over five innings Tuesday night, whereas Cueto was one run and one inning better on Monday.

Considering Martin didn’t have Cueto’s wealth of experience to draw upon, his start looks like the bigger triumph. He could’ve been thrown off by the hard contact and multiple extra-base hits that led to the Royals grabbing a 1-0 lead in the second, but instead he stuck to attacking the strike zone and forcing the Royals to bury him, and he instead subdued their offense into the middle innings with increasing efficiency.

Some of this is certainly a function of the Royals’ league-worst offense, but a major-league debut is a major-league debut, and an MLB offense is an MLB offense. Martin might’ve taken the loss, but he wasn’t defeated.

What’s surprising is that Martin was the one who stuck on the 26-man roster, even though he won’t be available for another five days. The White Sox indeed returned Kyle Crick to Charlotte after he fulfilled his 27th man duties.

Martin deserved another look, but the White Sox are long on starters right now, especially with Lucas Giolito coming back from the COVID-19 list and starting tonight. Tony La Russa outlined the rotation plans through the weekend, and he named six starters who weren’t Martin:

  • Tonight: Lucas Giolito
  • Thursday: Vince Velasquez
  • Friday: Dallas Keuchel
  • Saturday: Michael Kopech (if back from paternity list)
  • Sunday: Dylan Cease or Cueto

My guess is that Velasquez’s outing against KC might inform what the White Sox plan to do with him the next turn through, but after staring down the barrel of a pitching well gone dry, the Sox welcome the temporary surplus, even if they have to guard against KC making it a bit of a mirage.


The Royals aren’t playing terribly gripping baseball and their record reflects that, but they’re dealing with a couple of issues that the White Sox might have to confront if their offense continues to run on sad parallel tracks.

At the front office level, the Royals decided to fire hitting coach Terry Bradshaw. Sam McDowell of the Kansas City Star says the move is a reflection of a reorganized management hierarchy that has Dayton Moore letting J.J. Picollo have a more active role in day-to-day operations.

Moore has shown a tendency to stick with players and coaches — to stand by people. He’s loyal to a fault. In his new role, he has taken on the global outlook the organization, as he’s referred to it. He’s stepped away, however slightly, from the day-to-day operations of the Major League team.

That job belongs now to Picollo, who felt it necessary to begin these difficult conversations weeks ago. I don’t point that out to recognize Picollo as cold-hearted — that’s not it — but rather to say he has just fulfilled one of the hardest requirements of his new role.

At the manager level, Mike Matheny irritated Royals fans with his defense of playing Carlos Santana, who isn’t doing anything besides walking these days (.127/.289/.203). His explanation was reminiscent of Ozzie Guillen with Adam Dunn in 2011, although Guillen seemed more intent on embarrassing Kenny Williams.

Speaking of Guillen, he threw himself into the current White Sox’s struggles by criticizing the absence of Tim Anderson in the Game 2 lineup, which prompted Anderson to criticize the criticism.

Anderson has started 31 of 36 games this year, or 31 of 34 where he wasn’t suspended. That’s a 147-game pace, which would represent an improvement over his last two full seasons (123 games apiece). At an individual level, Guillen’s criticism is misguided.

But with the White Sox scoring seven regulation runs over the first three games against one of the league’s worst pitching staffs, it’s only natural to see heightened scrutiny of who is and isn’t playing, and who’s playing and hitting where. If Guillen is the one leading the charge, it’ll be a uniquely White Sox development, because a sort of loyalty that incorporated accountability would result in neither him nor La Russa being employed by the team. The White Sox have had chain-of-command issues since they won the World Series, so if it gets to a point where heads need to roll, it’s hard to trust that anybody will be empowered to do so.

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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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vince

It is total Ozzie logic to attack the player leading the team in hitting with a .847 OPS as opposed to the many, many other players not pulling their weight offensively.

knoxfire30

his ops is why you want him in the lineup

Joist

I didn’t hear that as an attack on TA but rather on La Russa for sitting him. I have to say I’m with Ozzie on this – these lineups are absurd. None of the good players can play both ends of a doubleheader (Robert did but only DHed game two), but Josh Harrison and Leury Garcia can? What the hell logic is that?

jhomeslice

I know today’s game is different than it was 20 years ago, but still. Guys like Ripken played every day for years without a single day off. I’m not saying guys shouldn’t get a day off now and then, but not to the point where Garcia and Harrison are in the lineup together half the games. You are going to have a pretty bad offsense with league worst players in multiple lineup slots.

It does little good to have the most rested team in the league if you barely make the playoffs and don’t have home field in any series. We saw the results of this last year.

roke1960

To show how the game has changed, they showed a stat a few days ago, with Whit Merrifield the leaders in consecutive games right now with 501. Only FOUR players have played 100+ consecutive games. With luxury hotels and great travel as compared to the past, and the DH spot available to give guys a day off from the field, that’s a really disgusting stat. Why can’t guys play every day anymore? There are enough days off, training staffs are much more advanced, players are in better shape. It just makes no sense.

Last edited 4 months ago by roke1960
Joliet Orange Sox

I’m a fan of the occasional day off. I think streaks that go on for years often are more about the player’s ego than what’s best for the team. Players should sit when they are dinged up or in a serious funk or ..

TLR has the Sox far beyond the occasional day off that I believe in.

roke1960

I agree with you on that. Moncada has been back for 9 days and has had 3 games off. That’s plain stupid.

metasox

Has there been much written about why guys play less? I assume some has to do with guys being bigger. The amount teams have invested in guys could be a factor – more reason to keep them healthy long term. Length of games can’t help. Guys used to spend just over an hr standing in the field. Now they spend half of a 3.5 hr game. That has to take a toll.

roke1960

How has that giving guys more days off worked for the Sox? They have had more injuries the last two years than they’ve had in a long time.

metasox

??? I was responding to your comment about baseball players in general. Nothing specific to the Sox.

roke1960

I know- I was just stating that this is approach doesn’t seem to be working for the Sox.

dongutteridge

The Sox need to give TLR the rest of his days off at Shady Acres.

jorgefabregas

Martin was great, but did give up a high exit velocity (94.5 MPH average) and had a high (61.5%) hard hit rate. Something to keep an eye on the next time he pitches.

calcetinesblancos

Yeah but he threw strikes so at least it seems like he won’t beat himself, unlike some of the other “pitchers” on our roster.

metasox

Doesn’t Giolito need to activated for today? If so, which pitcher is swapped from the roster?

jorgefabregas

Yeah, Martin was optioned today. Maybe he got an extra day of pay/service time. Also, Lance Lynn was moved to the 60 day IL and is eligible to return June 6.

metasox

Makes sense. I expected Martin was around just for paperwork reasons.

lifelongjd

Ozzie’s criticism was the right size wrong shape. To call out Tim specifically was off base, but the message was spot on. TLR constantly changing the lineups is not helping or breaking the Sox out of their rut. Last nights lineup had 3 guys hitting under .200 and a total of 5 under .220.
KC is a team the Sox need to beat up on and it felt like they had momentum after the first two games of the series. It seems like last night’s game was punted and it drives me nuts. It’s no longer “early” and these teams don’t care about last year or how good the Sox should be this season. Play your best players. Every damn day.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I approve this message.

roke1960

Ozzie didn’t attack Timmy- he attacked the guy who is old enough to be Timmy’s grandpa.

metasox

Never know for certain if a guy didn’t want to be in the lineup for whatever reason. Probably best for Ozzie not to call out individuals and just make a general observation.

knoxfire30

You cant count Anderson being suspended as a way to say he would be on pace for 147, those were “off days”

TA7 should play 150-155 yearly, same as the rest. These guys have been ridiculously coddled into off days and it hasnt prevented injuries or helped them produce big offensive numbers.

These guys need a wakeup call cause right now you are 7th in the AL, barely a viable playoff team and your run differential indicates things record wise should actually be a lot worse. The indians, mariners, and redsox all have better run differentials and are only a couple games back.

Keep blaming injuries, keep expecting some magical surge but for a pretty big sample size now you have been hovering around the 500 level and unable to ever beat good teams.

Lets get our starters in the damn lineup every day for a few weeks get things cranked up, get a nice healthy lead in the division, then worry about off days cause guys are tuckered out and need a rest

roke1960

Great analysis, knoxfire. The weather has warmed- pulled hamstrings should be less of a risk in the warmer weather. We have two days off next week. How hard would it be to keep Timmy/Yoan/Robert 1-2-3 for all 8 games this week. This team cannot get on a roll because players are sitting every 3rd or 4th day. Game 2 was there for the taking, but Tony decided to bat Engel leadoff. And of course in the 8th with two runners in scoring position he comes up and hits a check swing grounder to 2nd. Get your best players in the lineup and keep them there. Otherwise expect a .500 ballclub most of the season.

And also- why start VV and Keuchel back to back instead of keeping everyone on regular rest? Starting one of those Thursday, then Kopech/Cueto/Cease on regular rest against the Yanks give us the best chance to win. Or maybe giving your team the best chance to win isn’t Tony’s goal. Now if Cueto starts Sunday, Cease will have 6 days off before his next start. Or maybe now that Martin had a good game, we can go to a 7-man rotation.

chipporter

Could it be TLR’s or managements way of letting VV pitch his way off the team…at the teams expense.

Or….perhaps they are stupid enough to believe that VV could shine and be trade bait?

Things that make you go, hmmmmmmmmm

Last edited 4 months ago by chipporter
metasox

VV would have been bullpen swingman if everyone had been healthy at the start. Probably ends up there at some point.

jhomeslice

Spot on.

Willardmarshall

Google search turns up no previous use of “White Sox are long on starters”….

a-t

To me the problem is less to do with Tony and more to do with the front office screwing around at 2B. Tony likes to rotate guys around and make sure most everyone gets playing time, which I support both in terms of load management and trying to keep bench guys relatively sharp. The problem is that managerial approach requires depth and balance on the roster, and there are only three middle infielders on the roster. The overly heavy use of Harrison/Leury is best solved by going and getting an actual above average quality starting 2B and installing him there, and keeping both of Harrison and Leury as perfectly credible if somewhat overpaid backups.

If the Mariners are still struggling in a month, I think Adam Frazier would be available to be traded to his fourth team in a year. His contact & plate-discipline focused lefty bat has kept his wRC+ in line with last year’s (114 last year, 112 this year) despite the deadened ball eating away at his pop and BABIP. He’s on an expiring contract, so the trade acquisition cost won’t be that high.

Malkatraz

DiPoto loves trading so much he might trade him right now just to shake things up… They’re already 8 back.

Right Size Wrong Shape

I guess the Davis Martin call-up was the last straw. Wes Benjamin has gone to the KBO.

Last edited 4 months ago by Right Size Wrong Shape
calcetinesblancos

Oh noooooooo.

Root Cause

Grandpa used to say that something that is good for everything is usually good for nothing. I wish TLR had met Grandpa.

I know that is extreme but it makes a point. He would have Garcia play two positions at once if he could. Oh wait, he is doing just that with Harrison on 2nd and Garcia in RF.

As Cirensica

136
148
156
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145

Those are the games played by Alexei Ramirez. He started to play at 26 yo. Ozzie is right, and I have been saying the same for weeks now. The White Sox built a contention window with young stars, and fresh blood, and babysitting them in excess just to see them get hurt and in the IL. the physical conditioning has gone down the crap for the White Sox in recent years.

roke1960

Yes, the more you baby someone to keep them from getting hurt, the more likely they’ll get hurt.

As Cirensica

Schneider is proving to be difficult to replace.

calcetinesblancos

It’s clear that Tony thinks everyone on the team tires as easily as he does.

roke1960

Except, of course, the great and versatile Leury Garcia. He’s indestructible.

calcetinesblancos

Well I was talking about the mortals on the team.

As Cirensica

I wonder if TLR needs some time off. He has been managing too many games in a row.

ForsterFTOG

He sleeps during the games so, no, it’s probably not an issue.

roke1960

Leury in the lineup again today, hitting 2 spots ahead of Vaughn. I guess he’s the only one that doesn’t need a day off.

Just John

Shut up dude! If you keep saying it, he’ll just keep trolling you!