Saturday Stew: Attrition is Setting in on the White Sox' Decimated Lineup
The White Sox need some reinforcements at the dish if they hope to continue to be a World Series contender this season.
After getting shellacked by baseball’s most explosive offense on Thursday night, Carlos Rodón was able to do what he’s done all season — shove. Seven innings of one-run baseball for ‘Los on Friday night at Minute Maid Park was exactly what the White Sox needed after the Astros drilled Dylan Cease and the Sox for 10 runs the night before.
Rodón continued his redemption tour by punching out eight Astros’ hitters while allowing just three hits, none of which left the ballpark, a feat in itself when facing a team that has hit a whopping 42 home runs in the past month and is currently sporting a 132 wRC+ as a team in that same span.
But the White Sox still fell to Houston, again, making anything more than a split with the Astros impossible in this series. The White Sox offense could only muster up one run one on seven hits, six of which came in the first two innings when the White Sox stranded multiple runners against a vulnerable Luis Garcia.
One hit over the final seven frames for the White Sox after some squandered offense in the first two innings. The Astros would win in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the ninth when Yordan Alvarez laced a double into the right-field corner off Garrett Crochet, scoring Yuli Gurriel to end the ballgame.
That’s not going to cut it, folks. Worse yet, it’s not just an isolated incident in which the sticks were asleep for the Southsider’s; this is a troubling trend of attrition.
The timely production of depth guys like Billy Hamilton, Jake Lamb, Leury Garcia, and Brian Goodwin has helped the White Sox weather their way through a bevy of early-season injuries for the most part, but these guys are just that — depth guys.
They are not everyday players, and when called into that role, the production just isn’t going to be there consistently enough to help support guys like Tim Anderson, Yoán Moncada, Jose Abreu, and Yasmani Grandal through their natural ebbs and flows and dings and bruises.
In the name of giving credit where credit is due, Tony La Russa has done a good job of mixing and matching his decimated offense over these first 70 games, but the numbers — and the eye test — show that this club needs some outside help at the dish.
If watching the White Sox score just three runs in 18 innings of baseball against the Astros isn’t evidence enough for you, let the numbers do the speaking;
Last 14 days (June 5-June 18): 91 wRC+, .240/.312/.362, 59 R, 1.2 fWAR, 24.2 K%, 8.6 BB%
Last 30 days (May 20-June 18): 100 wRC+, .241/.320/.386, 122 R, 3.5 fWAR, 24.6 K%, 9.4 BB%
First six weeks of the season: 114 wRC+, .260/.347/.412, 222 R, 8.9 fWAR, 23.1 K%, 11.0 BB%
Yermín Mercedes’ smoking-hot April and Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal being healthy and contributing helped the White Sox get off to a hot start at the dish through the first six weeks of the season, but as you can see in the numbers above, attrition has set in on the White Sox offense.
Now at the 70-game mark of the season — roughly 43 percent through the season — the White Sox are scuffling to string together consistent production at the plate with Luis Robert and Nick Madrigal joining Eloy Jiménez on the IL, Yermín Mercedes crashing back to earth, and the depth players being over-exposed to quality pitching.
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We can take solace in the fact that Eloy Jiménez has been cleared to resume baseball activities down in Arizona. However, a potential rehab assignment for Jiménez is still at least a month away. A potential return to the White Sox is probably not going to happen until sometime in August.
Jake Burger and Tim Beckham have been playing some second base in Charlotte this week as the club weighs all of its options when it comes to trying to plug the hole that Nick Madrigal’s season-ending hamstring injury poked in the hull of the S.S. Southside. Still, there may not be enough on-board to plug up the holes left by the injuries to Madrigal, Robert, and Jiménez.
Jake Burger has never played second base professionally before, and he’s two months into his first pro season since a multi-year injury rehab. I would love to see Burger come up and impact this club, but I don’t know if that’s in the cards just yet.
Tim Beckham has hit 10 home runs in 34 games with Charlotte, and he’s a career .733 OPS utility infielder at the major league level. While he hasn’t played since 2019 with Seattle, he’s probably going to be the guy if the front office decides to make an internal move while they assess the trade market over the next month or so.
We can talk about who’s available on the trade market in a few weeks when that becomes a little less hazy, but there is no doubt at this point that if the White Sox want to contend for a World Series this fall, they need to be players in that conversation next month.
‘Hamilton’s Homies’ and the ‘Goodwin Groupies’ are fun, but the 3.8 runs per game that the White Sox are averaging over their last 32 contests isn’t enjoyable and definitely not sustainable.
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