Meanwhile on the South Side: Hope Springs a Leak
A week into the season and things haven't looked so good
Six games in and it is looking a little bleak for the White Sox. There have already been Twitter polls asking if the games in Cleveland were must-wins. Sports radio in Chicago weighed in saying the series finale was an important game for Lucas Giolito, since an All-Star 2019 season doesn’t count for much in the COVID year. There’s talk that Rick Renteria might not be the man for the job. Even more surprising, one host floated an idea that would have been unthinkable in the last two years: Perhaps it is time for Don Cooper, presumed pitching coach for life, to go.
Though there isn’t much data to support firing Renteria and Cooper, sample size and limited games don’t matter in a 60-game season. What’s more, especially the manger’s case, the spotlight is as bright as it’s ever been. According to local and national pundits, this White Sox team is meant to compete now, especially in this sprint of a season. Renteria’s lineups, in-game decisions, and bullpen use are all being scrutinized more than ever. So far, he has been found wanting.
The case at catcher is one such sore spot. Yasmani Grandal, the big free-agent signing of 2020 for the Sox, has started four games with a slash line of .154/.294/.154 with no hits for extra bases. By contrast, James McCann has a .500/.500/1.250 with two home runs in two starts. White it’s still too early for proclamations, playing Grandal ahead of McCann isn’t working out.
Perhaps it is also a matter of placing Grandal fourth in the lineup, but that also comes back to Renteria. Stubbornly holding out hope for Grandal to get it together isn’t a luxury in the shortened season. The idea of the hot hand is normally without merit, but in 60 games it is unwise to dismiss it out of hand. Renteria needs to act fast or the season, and maybe his job, will pass him by.
The starting pitching side of the ledger isn’t inspiring much confidence either. Michael Kopech is out for the season and Lucas Giolito has one good and one bad start. Three of the other five starters have ERAs in the double digits and those same three haven’t made it out of the 4th inning. The bullpen looks better in comparison, but there are enough question marks to keep any confidence in check. Aaron Bummer can’t pitch every day.
There has been some bad luck as well. Eloy Jimenez knocked his head against the wall and was out for two games and Nomar Mazara has yet to play. Nicky Delmonico has played in five of the six games this season, which should tell you all you need to know about where the White Sox are right now. The higher the number of games Delmonico plays, the lower the odds the White Sox make the playoffs, expanded or otherwise.
There is still some cause for hope, though. The aforementioned Mazara should be up this week and a rookie with potential, Nick Madrigal, will be arriving soon as well. Luis Robert is also just a joy to watch, too bad it can’t be done in person this year. Also, the first two series of the year were against the best teams in the division.
If there is any solace for fans, the Sox haven’t put out their best lineup yet. They’d better do it soon, though, because 10% of the season is already gone. A campaign that already had a sense of urgency is even more urgent.