The Chicago White Sox enter Tuesday as losers of eight of their last 11 games. With a record of 52-58, they are 14.5 games out of first place in the American League Central and 6.5 games behind the Los Angeles Angels for the second Wild Card.
A couple of weeks ago I presented the notion that the Chicago White Sox will go as far as Adam LaRoche takes them. This was right before the team started making a push for an American League Wild Card birth.
During that time, the offense came alive without much from LaRoche as he has been in a two month slump. Now the team is no longer winning and LaRoche is still slumping. Needless to say, without their designated hitter producing, the White Sox cannot maintain enough production to stay in the playoff hunt.
At this point, it is safe to assume the White Sox are just about out of contention. Now could be a good time to start evaluating players for next season.
That brings me to recent call-up Trayce Thompson.
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Thompson, who is known for being the younger brother of NBA star Klay Thompson, is probably the best defensive outfielder in the White Sox organization. But his skills don’t just end there. He can also hit the ball a long way and at Triple-A this season, was in the midst of his best year as a pro.
In 104 games with Charlotte, Thompson hit .260/.304/.441 with 13 home runs, 39 RBIs and 11 stolen bases. Those numbers are actually better than that of Tyler Saladino who was called up right before the All-Star break and has been given the everyday third base job.
Since being called up exactly one week ago, Thompson has only made one start and has three hits in seven at bats.
With essentially no open spot available in the outfield the White Sox should consider a platoon between LaRoche and Thompson at designated hitter.
At Charlotte this season, Thompson’s splits heavily favored a matchup against left-handed pitching. His slashline versus southpaws read .314/.346/.483 with four home runs in 118 at bats.
Jul 18, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago White Sox designated hitterAdam LaRoche
(25) reacts to striking out with the bases loaded during the third inning against the Kansas City Royals at U.S Cellular Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
LaRoche this season is hitting .216/.307/.348 overall but just .175/.212/.213 against lefties. He also strikes out 36 percent of the time he faces southpaws and has yet to homer off of one.
Since LaRoche is under contract through 2016, the White Sox cannot afford to completely bench him. But taking some pressure off him and limiting his at bats against pitchers he hasn’t stood a chance against all season might help his confidence.
Ideally, Thompson profiles as a fourth outfielder at the major league level and when J.B. Shuck returns, that role will not be available. But if he is playing well in this platoon role, he may force the White Sox to carry five outfielders.
If this is the case then either Emilio Bonifacio (currently on the DL anyway) or Gordon Beckham become a roster casualty. Both players have already seen their playing time just about disappear since the All-Star break.
Saladino created a spark when he was given playing time and is certain to get consideration in having a role with the team in 2016. Maybe the same can be said over the next two months with Thompson.