White Sox AAA pitcher of the month: SP Erik Johnson
Erik Johnson had a strong start to the season at Triple-A Charlotte and I profiled him as the Chicago White Sox AAA pitcher of the month for April. He looked to once again be the guy that we all saw as the team’s top pitching prospect destined for a spot in the White Sox big league rotation.
In May, he took a step back but in June has been on one of the best stretches of baseball he has ever played.
The big right-hander was 3-1 with a 1.03 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and 41 strikeouts in 35 June innings. He also held opponents to a .185 batting average in the five starts he made.
His best start of the month came on June 21st when he pitched eight innings of four-hit ball with no walks, no runs allowed and nine strikeouts. Johnson has struck out at least eight batters in each of his last four starts.
Earlier in the month, he had a game with a season-high 11 strikeouts. Watch him record strikeout number 11 of that game in the video below.
For the year, Johnson is 7-5 with a 2.86 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 85 innings. Opponents are hitting .231 against him.
With potential trades in order if (and when) the White Sox become sellers at the trade deadline, Johnson is a guy to keep an eye on. He is one of many candidates to be called up to fill a spot in the team’s rotation if one becomes open.
May 19, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Matt Lindstrom (27) delivers a pitch in the ninth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Chicago won the game 7-6. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
When the White Sox signed Matt Lindstrom two seasons ago, they viewed him as a guy that could pitch in the late innings and even close if needed.
In 2013 he had a respectable 3.12 ERA but was allowing opponents to hit for a .277 average. Last season, largely because of injury, those numbers skyrocketed to a 5.03 ERA and .338 average.
With his contract up at the end of the 2014 season, he wasn’t expected back with the team. He would go on to sign a minor league deal with the Los Angeles Angels but never pitch for them choosing to opt out of his deal rather than accept a minor league assignment.
Shortly after that, White Sox signed him to a minor league deal of their own and he has been with Triple-A Charlotte ever since.
Lindstrom struggled mightily in April and May but was dominant in June.
For the month, he was 2-0, did not allow a run, walked no one and struck out 12 in 12.2 innings. Opponents tallied just four hits against Lindstrom over that stretch.
He is clearly a pitcher who can pitch in the majors leagues so I wouldn’t expect him to remain at Charlotte for the entire season. Whether it is with the White Sox or another ball club, Lindstrom should find his way to the show.
For the year, Lindstrom is 2-0 with a 4.50 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and 15 strikeouts in 20 innings. He has held opponents to a .216 average and leads the team with seven holds.
Triple-A pitcher notes
Left-hander Zach Phillips continued his strong play this season by posting a 1.69 ERA and holding opponents to a .086 average in June. He was also 4-4 in save chances…. Kyle Drabek is tied with Johnson for the team lead for ERA (2.86) among starting pitchers. His record however is 3-5…. White Sox right-hander Matt Albers is on a rehab assignment with Charlotte and has pitched two scoreless outings. When ready, he would presumably take Daniel Webb‘s spot in White Sox bullpen.
Next: White Sox AAA player of the month: 2B Micah Johnson