White Sox got quality contributions throughout the 2018 season from young starting pitcher in his first full season pitching in MLB.
Entering the 2018 season, one of the goals for the White Sox was developing their young players at the major league level. While there were some positive developments this season for a few players, no player developed better than Reynaldo Lopez.
Lopez was the best starting pitcher for the Sox this past season. Pitching in his first full year in MLB, Lopez showed glimpses of being a future top of the rotation starter. Despite finishing with a 7-10 record, Lopez led the Sox starters with a 3.91 ERA, a 1.272 WHIP and led the team with a 3.1 WAR.
The Sox needed positive developments from their young players this past season, and they got many good contributions from Lopez. After finishing the 2017 season with a 3-3 record and 4.72 ERA in eight starts, Lopez got off to a good start this season as he didn’t allow more than two earned runs in any outing in April.
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Lopez’s breakout game this season happened on May 20 when he recorded his first win of the year against the Texas Rangers. In that game, Lopez pitched eight strong scoreless innings while allowing just two hits and recording eight strikeouts. This would be his longest outing of the season.
The 24-year-old pitched a career-high 188.2 innings in his first full year pitching in the Majors. Lopez had 11 starts where he pitched seven or more innings this season. He had just eight outings that lasted less than six innings in 2018.
From Aug. 29 to the end of the season, Lopez didn’t have a single outing where he didn’t pitch at least six innings. He had two quality performances against playoff teams before the end of his 2018 campaign. On Aug. 29 against the New York Yankees, Lopez pitched seven innings and gave up just one earned run.
Lopez pitched another seven strong innings against the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 21. In that game, he recorded eight strikeouts and gave up just one earned run. Despite not getting a win in his final start of the year on Sept. 28 against the Minnesota Twins, Lopez pitched six innings while giving up two earned runs and recording five strikeouts.
Entering next season, Lopez should be listed as the Sox no. 2 starting pitcher in their rotation. The development for Lopez in 2018 was important as he figures to take the next step in 2019 and continue helping the Sox rebuilding efforts. The Sox benefitted from Lopez maturing into a quality starting pitcher this season. Next season, Lopez could continue growing into one of the better starting pitchers in MLB.