White Sox young right-hander becoming a solid force on the mound for the team this season. How high can he go as the South Siders continue rebuilding?
Almost two months into the season, it finally happened. The White Sox won a home series. It was a long and stressful journey to the season’s first home series win but it made it that much sweeter.
Actually, it didn’t make it that much sweeter but hey, the Sox will take their victories wherever they can get them this season.
The Sox are off one of their worst starts in franchise history, completely embracing the tank-n-rebuild. But along the long road to rebuilding, hopeful success does come small victories. And last Sunday, came a huge victory, perhaps the biggest one of the year.
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There’s a new movie coming out this summer. Reynaldo Lopez: A New Hope, a White Sox Story.
Lopez won his first game of the season, despite being the best pitcher on the White Sox. Lopez was phenomenal on Sunday against the Texas Rangers. He pitched eight innings, struck out eight batters, walked two, didn’t allow a single run on two measly hits, and capitalized a statement performance with an emphatic strikeout of Shin Soo-Choo.
His reaction was priceless. He yelled, he pounded his chest, and he walked off his mound with a dominant and confident air that showed he’s ready to take his game to the next level.
Lopez has been the best prospect at the major league level this season and it’s not even that close. Yoan Moncada has been greatly improving lately but was very slow out of the gates. Lucas Giolito has been disappointing, to say the least. Giolito has a better record than Lopez but Lopez has him beat, along with most of the other starters, in almost every major pitching category.
Starters with at least eight games started, Lopez has the least runs allowed, lowest ERA, lowest batting average against, lowest WHIP, lowest BB/9, lowest H/9, and highest K/BB ratio. Lopez doesn’t have the most inning pitched or the most strikeouts or the highest win percentage but he’s been dominant in many of his outings.
James Shields deserves recognition for a few of his gems this season. But Lopez, for what he means for the future, should fill every White Sox fan with the hope that the rebuild is headed in the right direction.
Lopez has not been flawless this season by any means but he’s been very successful. He’s pitched at least five innings in all but one start, and he’s pitched at least six innings in seven of his nine starts. He’s only given up four or more runs in three of his nine starts and five or more hits in two of his nine starts. His WAR for the season is sitting at 1.4, which is better currently than Jose Berrios, Noah Syndergaard, Stephen Strausburg, Lance McCullers, Zack Greinke, Jon Lester, Jake Arrieta and Clayton Kershaw.
So what does all this success mean for Lopez and the White Sox? It means that Lopez has great stuff that could actually turn into ace or top of the rotation stuff. And also this rebuild could actually work out in the end for the White Sox.
Moncada is finally getting comfortable in 2018 while Giolito is still very much learning the details of the Major League game. Lopez has been the one bright spot that the White Sox can hang their caps on. And if there’s any doubt that the rebuild was not the best route to take, remember that Lopez is 24, Giolito is 23, and Moncada is 22, and there’s plenty more on the way.
If Moncada can continue to improve, the White Sox will finally get to see the player that was baseball’s number one prospect. Moncada is slashing .267/.338/.500 over his last 30 games. He has less strikeouts (25) in his last 20 games than he had in his first 17 games of the season (31).
And if Lopez can maintain this level of success and even improve, he will stay at the top of the rotation and be a very exciting piece of this team for years to come.