Tag Archives: Nate Jones

The White Sox Bullpen has been Nails

We’re closing in on a month of baseball. We can still say “It’s early,” but that window is closing. Trends are starting to solidify. Themes are starting to build. You get the point.

There is nothing so volatile in baseball as the bullpen so even making this observation is, perhaps, foolhardy but… The White Sox bullpen has been nails.

Let’s start from the back. David Roberston has thrown 7.2 innings, recorded five saves in five chances, struck out 13 of 29 batters faced and holds a WHIP of .783. He’s produced like the David Robertson of old. Or, at least, not the 2016 version. While Nate Jones seemed to take a few outings to round back into form, he’s achieved his requisite nastiness. If you take Jones’ first three outings (3.1 IP, 4 BB, 2 ER, .364 BA) and toss them by the wayside, his numbers look a lot like Robertson’s. Eight and a third innings, a 1.08 ERA, 14 strikeouts in 33 batters faced. Anthony Swarzak has been a revelation. Not only has he struck out over a third of the batters he’s faced (14 of 38), he’s walked exactly one hitter. He put up a stretch of 18 consecutive hitters retired. He’s given length to the ‘pen by pitching multiple innings in five of his eight outings. Considering the White Sox rotation has had some shorter (albeit decent enough) starts from Derek Holland and James Shields, getting length out the pen has been necessary. With Shields joining Carlos Rodon on the DL and Mike Pelfrey working to get back into shape and deeper in games, length is even more than that.

And let’s not leave out Tommy Kahnle. He’s striking out 18/9 IP. That’s bananas. Kahnle and I talked last Saturday on White Sox Weekly about the mechanical changes he’s made to his delivery. There are a few small tweaks that have helped him throw strikes at a far, far higher rate than ever before. Couple that with his velocity ticking up into the triple digits and you’ve got an arm that even the big national writers can’t ignore.

Seriously. Check it out. This is big-time, smart baseball stuff: http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/the-white-sox-have-had-one-of-the-best-pitchers-on-the-planet/

The Sox bullpen isn’t even healthy. They lost Jake Petricka to a lat strain after just one outing and Zach Putnam is back on the DL with an elbow issue. There’s no telling when either will be back. Putnam was part of the Nails Brigade while he was healthy, however. His performance (8.2 IP, .346 WHIP) speaks for itself but his ability to pitch to right or left handed batters made the bullpen more versatile.

Like all “It’s early” observations, this one comes with the same caveat: They probably can’t all keep this up. These are staggering rates at an individual level. Having them all in the same bullpen? Even more so. Baseball will turn even the most heart-warming story into a mid-June fizzle but, for now, the White Sox bullpen has been nails.

Nate Jones bruised but OK after being hit by comebacker

White Sox reliever Nate Jones, who will also pitch for Team USA in the World baseball classic, left yesterday’s 3-2 win over the Diamondbacks after being hit by a one-hopper in the back of the right knee. Jones was in obvious pain and wasted little time coming out of the game. Jones had been hit right by a nerve in the back of the knee but, fortunately, it was more a sudden pain than lasting damage. He’s got quite the bruise and, since the ball hit right where the hamstring connects, will be fairly sore for a day or two. Take a look as he filled in reporters on how he’s feeling and his plans for he WBC.

Plenty of PT for White Sox Prospects

White Sox top prospect Yoan Moncada makes his second start of the spring today against the Mariners. From the start of camp Manager Ricky Renteria has put Moncada and the rest of the high-end prospects in the White Sox newly loaded farm system front and center.

Moncada has five plate appearances, despite just the one start, catcher Zach Collins has five as well–with no starts yet. Adam Engel (who won the Arizona Fall League MVP in 2015 and someone White Sox fans should keep an eye out for) has had five trips to the plate as well. Engel also made one of the better plays in the outfield for the Sox so far this spring. Michael Kopech will start today’s game against the Mariners. Reynaldo Lopez gets the start in the other game (the Sox are using split squads today). Lucas Giolito made his debut against the World Series Champion Cubs on Monday. Zach Burdi was called on in the 9th inning of Sunday’s game to nail down the Sox first win.

There’s a lot of young talent and they’re getting run early.

While the playing time is plentiful for the youngins early on, it may not portend breaking camp with the team–or even an early call-up. The World Baseball Classic is making spring extra-long this year. The Sox also have a few injuries to projected regulars (Todd Frazier, Brett Lawrie and Charlie Tilson) which gives more opportunities. Further, forty percent of the White Sox rotation will work in the WBC–Jose Quintana will pitch for Columbia, Miguel Gonzalez for Mexico–while Nate Jones and David Robertson will both pitch for Team USA. Those pitchers are on a different schedule, altogether. Finally, Carlos Rodon has been backed up in an effort to keep him strong through the season.

Still, “Get ‘Em In Early” works pretty well as a motto for a team hungry to see what all the new (and existing) young talent is able to do. Perhaps the toughest task facing the kids, however, could be keeping things in stride. Knowing that their time in Big League Camp could be limited, it’s got to be tough to no try and hit three home runs in one swing or throw a fastball through the catcher. So far, the kids have impressed and that’ perhaps the most important part of the White Sox spring.

Stuff We Learned at SoxFest

The 26th Annual SoxFest this weekend was a blast and we learned stuff, too. After eleven and a half hours of radio, 18 interviews, and a panel or two we learned a few things about the White Sox, their players, and the organizations direction over the next few months.

Because everyone loves lists, we figured we’d write down a few things we learned. Some are big news, some are reminders, some are just goofy. Either way, here they are:

–Ricky Renteria will, in fact, go by “Ricky.” He’s had other nicknames throughout his career but he’s gone by Ricky for a while now. The new White Sox skipper made it official on the Steve Dahl Show, Friday. The manager is Ricky, the GM is Rick.

–Rick Hahn told Sox Fans during one of the panels that he had a trade fall through on Christmas Eve. Hahn declined to offer many details on the deal but did offer, “Many more [offers] die” than end up working out.

–Hahn maintained his stance that the Sox are still looking to make moves. Whether that’s the next Big One, like trading Jose Quintana, or moving other pieces like Todd Frazier or David Robertson, we’ll have to wait and see.

–Tim Anderson will wear No. 7 this year. He offered to buy new jersey’s for a some fans who’d bought the No. 12 jersey.

–Director of Amateur Scouting Nick Hosteler gave out a few nuggets concerning the 2016 draft. One being the White Sox would have taken Zack Collins (who they picked 10th overall) with the first pick had they had it.

–Hostetler also said that if Zack Burdi was off the board at 26, the White Sox were ready to take Alec Hansen. Turns out Burdi was there and they got Hansen with their next pick.

–Everyone in baseball is waiting with bated breath for the Free Agent class of 2018. Manny Machado, Bryce Harper, Josh Donaldson, Clayton Kershaw, Drew Smyly, Andrew Miller and more could all be had. Hahn said the White Sox have not ruled out making an investment two winters from now.

–Lucas Giolito is massive.

–Ricky Renteria uses lobster in his Queso Fundido. I will spend most of the season learning how to make it.

–Zack Burdi will work out of the bullpen.

–The White Sox made a large shift in draft strategy. They focused more on hitters with a control of the strike zone and pitchers with the ability to throw strikes.

–Renteria plans to rotate players through the DH spot and use it to get players off their feet when needed.

–Nate Jones will pitch for Team USA at the World Baseball Classic. He was put on the roster before being ‘officially’ notified. Said he was ridiculously excited when he found out.