Chris Sale was dominant once again during yesterday’s series finale victory over the San Diego Padres. Sale surrendered just one earned run and struck out nine batters during his complete game gem. The victory brought the White Sox back to .500 at 29-29, just 4.5 games behind the division leading Detroit Tigers. While it is still very early to be scoreboard watching, it is refreshing to see that the White Sox appear ready to remain competitive throughout the summer. It’ll be interesting to see where the White Sox stand in late-July as the trade deadline approaches, but I hope management does not decide to trade away the few good prospects that they have in the farm system. Even though this year’s team is vastly improved over last year’s, they still need several pieces to be legitimate contenders and I don’t think they can fill all those holes through mid-season trades. Hopefully, general manager Rick Hahn and company will stay true to the plan of reshaping this team for long-term success.
Abreu Set to Return
The White Sox hit the road tonight for six games against the two Los Angeles baseball teams. Jose Quintana gets the ball tonight versus Clayton Kershaw and Dodgers in what figures to be an entertaining pitcher’s duel. Although the mound matchup is worth watching, the real story is the return of slugger Jose Abreu. The first baseman has been activated from the disabled list prior to tonight’s game, and will reclaim his spot in the heart of the batting order. I’m excited to see the big man back on the field, and I will surely have my eyes glued to the TV set every time he steps into the box. I would love nothing more than the see Abreu sit on Kershaw’s fastball and send the first one he sees into the seats. Starting with tonight, Abreu’s return to the lineup could allow this offense to really take off now that the Opening Day lineup (other than Avisail Garcia) is finally healthy at the same time.
Semien Sent Down
Jose Abreu’s activation meant that somebody had to be sent down, and that person was Marcus Semien. Semien did a tremendous job filling in for Gordon Beckham and Conor Gillaspie for their respective stints on the disabled list, but unfortunately there isn’t a spot in the lineup for him. At this time, it is best for both Semien and the White Sox that he receives everyday at-bats to continue developing as a player. I am certain that this will not be the last we see of Semien, and he could regain a starting role if there is an injury or trade later this summer. Semien proved what he is capable of during the first six weeks of the season, so I’m confident he will be in the White Sox long term plans.
Danks Stays Sharp
For the better part of the season, I have been critical of John Danks’ increased walk rate and poor strikeout-to-walk ratio. However, the lefty has turned the corner in those two departments since his start on May 7th versus the Chicago Cubs. Since then, Danks owns a 4:1 K/BB ratio with 28 strikeouts and just seven walks in his last 31.2 innings pitched. The improved ratio has resulted in quality starts in four of his last five outings. This is exactly what I wanted to see from Danks going forward and hopefully it will continue for the rest of the season. Last year Danks only walked 27 batters in 138.1 innings pitched, so there is no reason to believe that it shouldn’t continue from here on out.
In case you weren’t aware, the MLB First-Year Player Draft will begin on June 5th and the White Sox have the third overall selection. I have heard several analysts state that the White Sox might be in the best position in this draft given their needs and spot in the draft order. The White Sox are expected to draft a pitcher at No. 3 overall, and many scouts believe they will take the best pitcher that is left between Carlos Rodon (LHP/NC State), Brady Aiken (LHP/HS), and Tyler Kolek (RHP/HS). All three prospects have been labeled as being the potential top pick in the draft at one point or another, so it does indeed look like the White Sox are in great shape. General manager Rick Hahn has publicly stated that he will not draft based on need, but that the top five players on his draft board are pitchers. Personally, I’d be shocked if the White Sox don’t take one from that trio of pitchers.