Sidney Brown follows the Chicago White Sox for WARR
Traditionally known as the “dog days of Summer,” August has not seen the Chicago White Sox dog out anything on the field.
With all 31 days passed in the eighth month, the South Side Hitmen for the first time this season can celebrate a month-long record over .500 (17-12).
So what’s responsible for this turnaround? One factor is the improved starting pitching, which was elite among the best in the American League in August.
The other factor — timely hitting from the offense, who came up with big hits in key situations to win games and series against prime time teams throughout the month, most obviously in the back-to-back series against the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox last week where the (real) Sox went 4-3 overall.
Average-wise, the Sox’s offense was, well, average in August, hitting .249 as a team (12th in AL), but the power numbers were pretty great — 38 home runs (4th in AL), 130 RBI (4th in AL) and 248 hits (3rd in AL) as a team.
Tim Anderson was a great table-setter throughout the month (28 hits) and even did some good clearing with 15 RBI. Adam Engel was also pretty prolific hit-wise with 24. In the final 15 days of August, the previously-established defensive wizard Engel collected 18 hits with a .327 average. By comparison, Engel had 54 hits in all the games prior to the all-star break with a .218 average.
With more consistent heat in the air it seems the humidity got into the Sox’s bats somehow, take Daniel Palka for instance.
Palka not only leads the Majors in ninth-inning home runs (6), he’s high on the list of left-handed rookies in franchise history when it comes to clearing the bases. With his 19th home run of the year on Aug. 26 at Detroit, Palka earned his spot alone in second place for most home runs by a Sox rookie left handed hitter.
Pete Ward: 22 (1963)
Daniel Palka: 19 (2018)
Jeff Liefer: 18 (2001)
Carlos May: 18 (1969)
Chris Singleton: 17 (1999)
The improved pitching staff had its best month of the season during August, ranking as a staff in the top five in all major pitching statistics including a team ERA of 3.96 (ranked 5th in AL), opponent batting average of .232 (4th in the AL) and 244 strikeouts (ranked 5th in AL) along wih 102 walks.
Continued struggles exist with the bullpen but the pairing of Carlos Rodon and Lucas Giolito have gotten better the more they’ve been put out to start.
Rodon has stepped up to be the ace of the staff and Giolito is working as comfortably at the top level as he’s ever have, but the recent presence of prospect Michael Kopech has elevated the starting staff with the potential to become elite with the best in baseball going forward, even if two of his three starts have been rained on with fans at Guaranteed Rate Field only getting quick peeks of the hopeful next Sox pitching star.
Rodon/Giolito in August
Carlos Rodon: 3-0 record, 1.80 ERA, 35 IP, 22 K, 15 BB, 8 R
Lucas Giolito: 3-1 record, 3.86 ERA, 37.1 IP, 40 K, 12 BB, 16 R
Season Split – Giolito
First 18 Starts
Last 9 Starts
Kopech Makes History
Michael Kopech: 1-1 record, 0.82 ERA, 11 IP, 9 K, BB, ER
Kopech became the only pitcher since 1908 to start his first two MLB games and give up one or less runs in each start with zero walks in both.
With Eloy Jimenez officially not seeing the big stage until at least the start of the 2019 season, according to Sox general manager Rick Hahn, who announced as such on Monday, what should future-focused Sox fans look out for as the final month of 2018 continues to unfold?
Along with Kopech’s development on the mound we can see if Giolito will remain consistent as well as if September call up Ian Hamilton can be answer to a struggling bullpen’s woes?
Offensively, there’s the question of if Adam Engel can become an everyday centerfielder? Palka reaching the 25 home run mark could do a lot for his confidence and help in his progression as another possible slugging bat for the South Siders’ line-up.
We’ve gotten a look at what exciting times may come finally to the South Side, a strong finish to the season would certainly keep the excitement going.
8/25 — To catcher Kevan Smith for belting his first home run of the season in last Saturday’s win at Detroit during MLB’s Players Weekend. Smith wore a jersey honoring his teammate Daniel Webb who died in an accident during the off-season. In dedicating his home run to his late teammate, Smith brokedown during a post-game interview.
8/27 — To Carlos Rodon for marking his 9th consecutive start of 6+ innings pitched with 3 runs or less and 5 hits or less. Marks the longest such streak for a Sox pitcher since 1908.
8/29 — To rookie Ryan LaMarre for becoming the second White Sox player with 3+ extra base hits and 4+ RBI in a game since Matt Davidson’s 3 Home Runs and 5 RBI on Opening Day at Kansas City.
Team Leaders (as of 8/16)
Batting Avg.: Jose Abreu (.272)
Home Runs: Jose Abreu (22)
RBI: Jose Abreu (78)
Hits: Jose Abreu (129)
Pitching Leaders (as of 8/31)
Wins: Lucas Giolito (10)
ERA: Reynaldo Lopez (4.51)
Strikeouts: James Shields (135)
Holds: Jace Fry (14)
Saves: Nate Jones (4)
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