After ‘really bad first half,’ White Sox’ Reynaldo Lopez hopes to turn things around after All-Star break
While a couple of pitchers in the White Sox’ rotation have shown great progress this season, right-hander Reynaldo Lopez continued to regress in an 11-5 loss Thursday to the Tigers.
While a couple of pitchers in the White Sox’ rotation have shown great progress this season, right-hander Reynaldo Lopez continued to regress in the team’s 11-5 loss Thursday to the Tigers.
Hoping to enter the All-Star break on a high note after three rough months, Lopez opened with three scoreless innings. Then all hell broke lose.
Before a crowd of 25,617 at Guaranteed Rate Field, Lopez allowed a combined seven runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth — including a two-run home run to Niko Goodrum, the last hitter he faced — before being lifted in favor of reliever Juan Minaya.
‘‘I executed very good pitches in the first three innings, and then I tried to keep executing my pitches, but they were able to hit them,’’ said Lopez, who was charged with six earned runs and nine hits in 5 1/3 innings. ‘‘I also missed a few spots, and they made adjustments. All of a sudden, what started as a good outing ended like a bad day.’’
Lopez (4-8) has struggled in most of his 18 starts this season. After his latest outing, Lopez — who won’t pitch again until after the All-Star break — has a 6.34 ERA, the highest among qualified starters in the majors.
This season has been quite the contrast from 2018, when Lopez emerged as one of the Sox’ best starting pitchers. He finished with a 3.91 ERA in 188 2/3 innings last season and was especially strong down the stretch, with a 1.13 ERA in his last six starts.
‘‘Is it surprising? Yeah,’’ manager Rick Renteria said of Lopez’s struggles. ‘‘We would have wanted it to have auto-corrected.’’
So what has changed?
‘‘A few things have changed [with my approach] from last year to this year,’’ said Lopez, who admitted to overthinking his execution. ‘‘At this point, after a really bad first half, there’s not much I can say about that.’’
While Lopez rides out his funk, two of the Sox’ other starting pitchers have taken steps forward. Right-hander Dylan Cease had dominant stuff for much of the season at Class AAA Charlotte and earned a victory in his major-league debut Wednesday. And right-hander Lucas Giolito, who struggled mightily last season, has turned things around. He went from being one of the worst starters in the majors in 2018 to being an All-Star this season.
With Lopez’s struggles, it’s fair to ask where he fits in the rotation going forward. Renteria said he doesn’t have any plans to move him yet, but he hasn’t solidified the rotation after the All-Star break.
‘‘There’s work that needs to be done, obviously,’’ Renteria said. ‘‘You go from one [side of the] spectrum to the other with Lucas, and now [Lopez] goes in the opposite direction. We’ve certainly seen that [Lopez is] capable of doing the things he did last year, obviously.’’
The All-Star break can’t come soon enough for Lopez, who is desperate to return to form. Regardless, it will provide him with a much-needed break to regroup for a second-half push.
‘‘Anybody who has ever gone through a little bit of a spell that’s difficult, stepping away from it doesn’t hurt,’’ Renteria said.
Said Lopez: ‘‘The plan is to take advantage of the break and try to clear my mind during those three days that we’re going to have off.
‘‘Today after my outing, I was talking with one of the guys here, and we already figured out what I’m doing and what I need to do in order to get better. That’s why I said the second half is going to be much, much better.’’