Before the All-Star break, the White Sox compiled a 33-62 record and earned a grade of D from manager Rick Renteria.
Not much to look at.
So what will be worth watching about the Sox coming out of the break? Mostly the continued development of position players and pitchers key to their rebuild, but there’s also the trade deadline and the anticipated arrivals of top prospects.
Victories and losses don’t much matter. The Sox appear destined to finish fourth in the American League Central for a fifth consecutive season and will miss the playoffs for the 10th year in a row. They would like to avoid breaking the franchise record of 106 losses set in 1970.
Record aside, improvements are necessary in these last 2½ months to move the needle on a franchise that has enough talent in the farm system to take a step forward. Here are some things to watch for in the Sox’ last 67 games:
Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada
Not everyone is 100 percent convinced that Anderson should stay at shortstop or that Moncada, who played five games at third base when he broke into the majors with the Red Sox in 2016, is a fixture in the middle infield. So it’s time that Anderson and Moncada establish firm roots by cutting down on their errors (Anderson has 13, Moncada 15) and locking down on the routine plays.
Anderson, who is on pace for 22 home runs and 36 stolen bases, was seeing his defense trend upward going into the break, and Moncada’s offense was improving, too. With 12 homers, 19 doubles, five triples and 41 RBI, Moncada joined Javy Baez, Andrew Benintendi, Trevor Story and Chris Taylor as the only players with 10, 15, five and 40 or more in those categories.
According to Baseball Reference’s wins above replacement, Anderson and Moncada are the Sox’ two best players at 2.1 each.
What about the pitching?
Carlos Rodon, Reynaldo Lopez and perhaps Lucas Giolito are slotted on the Sox’ big board for the starting rotation of the future. Rodon’s health issues and Giolito’s control problems threatened to knock them off, but Rodon, who is looking fit after surgery on his left shoulder in September, can cement his place with more starts resembling his last few and Giolito is keeping himself in the mix.
Lopez (3.91 ERA), the Sox’ best starter so far, must master the command of his fastball to all four quadrants of the strike zone, locate his slider and curve and avoid the mistakes that lead to big innings.
Who’s getting traded?
The Sox have an experienced and attractive bullpen piece in Joakim Soria and a veteran starter with postseason work on his
résumé in James Shields. They would seem to be the players most likely to get dealt before the non-waiver deadline July 31.
Don’t expect premium talent in return if they are traded alone, but packaging one with one or two of the Sox’ own prospects might land an intriguing prospect in return.
When will we see Eloy Jimenez and Michael Kopech?
Great question. The Sox’ top hitting and pitching prospects are expected to make their major-league debuts this season. It might be before September if Jimenez can stay healthy and Kopech can string together some starts with acceptable command. Both are at Class AAA Charlotte.