White Sox one game under .500 after seven games played to start the season. Positives and negatives of South Siders start highlighted by Southide Showdown.
One week into the Chicago White Sox 2017 season, there are many positives to take away from an expected slow start. The 11-run explosion against the Tigers, strong starts from James Shields, Derek Holland, and Miguel Gonzalez, and solid performances from unexpected sources in the bullpen and in the lineup.
With these positives come just as many negatives but that’s not unusual in the first year of a rebuilding season with an undefined roster, new coaches and a new mentality. Now that the speculation on who will make the Opening Day roster/lineup/rotation is over and 2017 play is underway, here are some of the major talking points thus far:
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Matt Davidson and Jacob May
After struggling to begin the season, third baseman Todd Frazier finally got his first multi-hit performance and his first of hopefully many home runs this season. Before Tuesday’s game in Cleveland however, Frazier was only 1-for-17 in the first five games. Frazier’s competition and the player below him on the depth chart at third base, the explosive Matt Davidson, has been smashing the ball in his limited time at the plate. In Davidson’s five games, he’s gone 5-for-13 and five RBI’s, with three extra base hits. Davidson has two singles, one double, one triple and one home run on the year.
The feel-good story of the Spring Jacob May has really struggled to begin the season and his MLB career. After securing the starting center fielder job, May has yet to register his first hit of the season and he’s played in six games. May was benched for Wednesday’s game for Leury Garcia. May is currently 0-for-14 with five strikeouts, one walk but has managed to put the ball in play for two RBI’s.
May has lost a lot of his playing time to both Garcia and Davidson in pinch-hitting and pinch-running roles. Unfortunately for the Sox, May’s center field duties are now up in the air and center field will remain open if May cannot perform at the Major League level. With Charlie Tilson still out for a few weeks, center field remains a big question mark at the moment.
Seven games in, the bullpen has the fifth best ERA in the Majors and are tied for the least amount of earned runs given up. Led by a returning Zach Putnam (6.1 IP, 2 H, 8 SO, 0 BB), the middle relievers have been strong and are having little trouble either holding leads or keeping games close.
The White Sox could not be happier with this great start from the bullpen, which was one of the main points of concern throughout most of last season. Putnam, Dan Jennings, Jake Petricka, Michael Ynoa and David Robertson have combined for 14.1 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 1 R, 18 K’s and an ERA of 0.00.
Slow Starts from Cody Asche, Omar Narvaez
As stated earlier, Frazier and May have had some trouble getting started this season, but the performances of starting catcher Omar Narvaez and newly acquired Cody Asche have been just as disappointing.
Frazier had his best game on Tuesday versus the Tribe going 2-for-3 with a double and a home run, but Asche has only registered one hit in his 15 at-bats. 1-for-15 is not what you’re looking for out of your designated hitter spot. Narvaez has still yet to record a base hit this season and it’s looking like his spot in the starting lineup are in jeopardy.
Narvaez who began the season in the starting lineup has only played twice since Opening Day. Catcher Geovany Soto has surprisingly earned his spot in the lineup after hitting three bombs in three games, including two in one game against Detroit. Soto is currently hitting .267 with three home runs, five RBI’s and a slugging percentage of .867. Narvaez played for Soto, who sat out on Wednesday night due to a sore right elbow. He went 0-for-3 with a strikeout.
While Frazier has obviously shown he has a Major League bat, Asche, May, and Narvaez need to improve quickly if they want to stay on the Sox roster.