Chicago White Sox
2018 was a full-blown rebuild year for the White Sox, and after losing 100 games they went into the offseason looking to make some noise. They went after both of the top free agents on the market, Manny Machado and Bryce Harper, but having landed neither they're back to counting on help from within to push them back into respectability. They did add free agents John Jay, Ervin Santana, and Yonder Alonso, and traded with the Mariners for closer Alex Colomé and with the Pirates for starter Iván Nova, so they're not exactly the same group as last year. But any significant improvement for the Southsiders is going to depend on homegrown talent. Youngsters Lucas Giolito and Yoan Moncada have another year of experience under their belts and hot-prospect rookie Eloy Jiménez is a popular pick for Rookie of the Year. Will this be enough to contend? Of course not, not even in the weak AL Central. But it does appear the Sox will make some strides forward in 2019 and avoid another 100-loss campaign.
Chicago is expected to start Reynaldo López, Giolito, and Nova in this series against Yusei Kikuchi, Mike Leake, and Wade LeBlanc. López was a solid hurler for the Sox last year—7-10, 3.91 ERA, 32 starts—and looks to replicate that at least in his sophomore season. Giolito is thought of as a future ace, but his rookie year showed little of that potential; in ’18 Giolito led the American League in earned runs allowed (118) and walks (90) while posting a WHIP of nearly one and a half. Nova had a typical Nova season last year in Pittsburgh (9-9, 4.19, 29 starts) and can be expected to produce more of the same. López's first start of 2019 was poor, but the other two guys had strong outings.
Mariners vs. Reynaldo López (CAREER)
Mariners vs. Lucas Giolito (CAREER)
Mariners vs. Iván Nova (CAREER)
Players to Watch
Yolmer Sánchez: His stats don't necessarily show it, but Sánchez is among the best Chicago players. Mostly that's due to defense—manager Rick Renteria considers Sánchez the team's best defensive infielder, and he ranked among the best third baseman in the game last year. This year he's been logging time at second base, with Yoan Mancada manning third, but that's not a new spot for him; over his career, he has more starts at second than third and rates well there, too. Sánchez also led the league in triples last season, though the speedy Venezuelan has never been much of a base-stealer.
Eloy Jiménez: The White Sox think so much of this rookie that they gave him a six-year, $43 million contract (with two option years) before he had a single appearance at the big-league level. The thinking clearly was that by locking him up at a bit more than $7M per year out of the gate, they'll save on what could easily have been a giant award in arbitration when he reaches his fourth year of service and the option years give Chicago a way to buy up his first two free-agent years. If the speedy outfielder lives up to expectations, that'll look like a steal of a deal; on the other hand, as the Mariners know as well as anyone, sometimes your top prospects are a bust. Is Jiménez more Mike Trout or Dustin Ackley (or worse, Ryan Anderson)? Check back in a few years.
Lucas Giolito: By many metrics, Giolito was the Majors' worst starting pitcher in 2018. A 6.13 ERA, 1.477 WHIP, and a league-leading 90 walks are not exactly signs of hope for the Southside faithful, but Giolito is still considered the future ace of the White Sox. The fireballing righty had a poor spring training with an ERA of nearly 9.00, but in his first start of the regular season showed why he's an ace-in-waiting. After walking the leadoff man in Kansas City, Giolito set down 19 in a row (including eight strikeouts) before allowing the first Royals hit in the 7th inning.
Rick Renteria: This is Renteria's third year managing the Chisox, and so far he's lost 95 games and 100 games. This year promises to be better, but maybe not by much; the rebuild figures to continue for another couple of years with marginal improvements. Sox fans seem to be sympathetic to Renteria's situation, based on a Twitter poll conducted by a Chicago radio station that showed 74% of respondents approving of his job performance. Renteria is known as one of the game's ultimate nice guys, but he isn't lacking in competitive fire—he's been known to bench guys for not running out an easy ground ball or for distracted play in the field. “Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness,” he said. First baseman/DH José Abreu elaborated on that, saying the Sox manager “is straightforward with his players. If he has something to get across, he will go to you and tell you to your face.”
Renteria is one of only two people to have managed both Chicago teams (Johnny Evers, of Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance fame, is the other). Prior to being hired to run the White Sox, he spent a year at the helm of the crosstown Cubs, taking them to a 73-89 season before being fired in favor of current Cubs skipper Joe Maddon.
As a player, Renteria spent 43 games of his brief big-league career as a Mariner in 1987-'88. He performed as you might expect a reserve on the '80s M's to do, posting a .194/.218/.296 line.
Welington Castillo: Remember this guy? The Chicago catcher spent two weeks as a Mariner in 2015, having been brought in via mid-season trade to help a lineup featuring a struggling Mike Zunino at catcher, but he wasn't given a chance. After all of six appearances, Castillo was traded again, shipped off to the Diamondbacks (with reliever Dominic Leone) for middle reliever Vidal Nuño and defensive liability Mark Trumbo.
Nicknamed "Beef," Castillo signed with the Sox as a free agent before last season, then promptly failed a PED test and was suspended for 80 games. To his credit, Castillo did not take the "I didn't know I did anything wrong" approach a lot of guys have taken when caught using PEDs, he owned up to it in full and served his time without appeal. Castillo's suspension allowed current Mariner catcher Omar Narváez to claim the starting catcher's job last year, giving him another M's connection.
|Chicago White Sox||(1901 - present)|
|World Champions:||1906, 1917, 2005|
|League Champions:||1919, 1959|
|Division Titles:||1983, 1993, 2000, 2008|
Lucas Giolito: Giolito's uncle is television writer Mark Frost, co-creator of the cult favorite Twin Peaks.