By Sidney Brown (@sidkid80)
Less than two weeks remain in the 2018 MLB season and Chicago’s South Side team is still compiling momentum that it took with it from the previous month — a good sign to say the least.
Coming off a 17-12 mark in August, many fans of the Chicago White Sox were wondering what was next for the Men in Black and White, would they possibly show their work from the previous several months and finish the year on a high note?
On Sept. 7 the Sox’s train was seemingly derailed when it was announced that star prospect pitcher Michael Kopech would be sidelined for the 2019 season due to his needing Tommy John surgery on a torn UCL.
Kopech brought life into the clubhouse and to the pitching staff upon being brought up from Triple AAA Charlotte in August, bringing an electricity to the fans that radiated through his couple of home starts, rain delayed as they wound up playing out.
It would seem that Kopech really was a factor with his teammates. Since his departure, some good vibes went out the door with him and a bit of a slump has gone through the rest of the starting staff who have only contributed a 5-9 record to start off September.
The Sox pitching staff will be challenged again through this week in facing first the Cleveland Indians and then the Cubs in Part 2 of the Crosstown Cup. To get out of those two series without embarrassment the staff will have to do better than the 4.25 ERA with 52 walks, 125 strikeouts and 70 runs allowed they’ve compiled so far in September.
These numbers may not jump out as terrible, but a closer look at two important starters show a pointed reversal in their fortunes from recent past success.
Lucas Giolito: 0-2 Record, 20 IP, 18 H, 7 K, 6 BB, 6.91 ERA
Carlos Rodon: 0-2, 17 IP, 17 H, 13 K, 12 BB, 5.29 ERA
On the flipside, after a terrible start to the month of August, Reynaldo Lopez has regained his form as a potential top ace for the future thanks to his command of the strike zone and being aggressive with hitters.
Rey-Rey has been particularly sharp in his last 4 starts, with a 0.67 ERA and 28 Ks in 27 IP, All four of his starts have gone at least innings and saw him allow either 0 or 1 runs. For the month of September, Lopez has put in 20 innings pitched with only 10 hits and 4 walks while striking out 22 and maintainting a 0.45 ERA.
The bullpen has seen a resurgence in the last month as well thanks to rookie Ian Hamilton and former closer Juan Minaya taking pressure off the starting pitchers during his appearances. Their most recent numbers:
Hamilton: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 4 K, 2 BB, 1.93 ERA
Minaya: 8.1 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 11 K, 4 BB, 0.00 ERA, 1-0 Record, 1 Save
The offense has been hit or miss all season and the month of September has proved to be no different as the team has posted a .218 batting average with seven home runs and 103 hits while scoring 3.3 runs per game.
One player who has shown life in the early part of September has been rookie Daniel Palka.
This no name rookie call up from early in the season has continued to make his presence known in the lineup and with two home runs in last Sunday’s loss at Baltimore, Daniel continues rising in an elite group of Sox rookies with the most dingers in a rookie season.
Sox Rookie Home Run Leaders
Jose Abreu – 36 (2014)
Ron Kittle – 35 (1983)
Zeke Bonura – 27 (1934)
Matt Davidson – 26 (2017)
Daniel Palka – 24 (2018)
Josh Fields – 23 (2007)
Bill Melton – 23 (1969)
September stats for Palka: .297 AVG, 5 HR, 7 RBI, 11 H (Overall – .243 AVG, 24 HR, 60 RBI, 91 H)
8/14 — To rookie outfielder Ryan Cordell for belting out his first career home run in a 8-6 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
The fan who caught the ball met up with Cordell after the game to give him the ball for his collection, a true class act indeed for that fan who showed respect for a historic accomplishment for an MLB player.
Batting Average: Jose Abreu (.265)
Home Runs: Daniel Palka (24)
RBI: Jose Abreu (78)
Hits: Yolmer Sanchez (135)
Wins: Lucas Giolito (10)
ERA: Reynaldo Lopez (4.05)
Strikeouts: James Shields (147)
Saves: Nate Jones (5)
Holds: Jace Fry (15)
Sidney Brown covers the Chicago Blackhawks for WARR