The Chicago White Sox will open a series against the Texas Rangers with their third baseman Yoán Moncada back in the lineup after missing nearly a month due to a hamstring strain
Before he was placed on the 10-day IL July 31, Moncada was scorching the ball. His best month was in June when he hit a slash of .381/.435/.667 with an OPS of 1.101. Moncada also recorded his least amount of strikeouts in the month at 17, compared to 44 in May. He did cool off a bit in July hitting a slash of .291/.361/.558 with an OPS of .919. But those are still solid numbers to have.
Even though he cooled off in terms of hitting in July, he hit six home runs, two more than his arguably best month. The six dingers he hit ties for the most he hit in a month this year with March/April.
Regardless of his performance in the past few months, Moncada is having is breakout year undoubtedly. Before going down he was hitting .301 with 20 home runs and 59 driven in. He recently took a new role in the lineup hitting at the cleanup spot behind Jose Abreu. It seemed to have been a change for the better, but the injury created a limited sample size in terms of how well he fits at the fourth spot.
Going to his left to field a ground ball against the Mets in the first inning on July 30, Moncada gingerly walked off the field and was taken out of the game. It was later revealed to be a right hamstring strain which would eventually put him on the injured list a day later.
For many, it seemed like an immediate knockdown after the bell rang for the start of a new round as Anderson was just reinstated from the IL on that Tuesday Moncada went down.
It was a tough blow, but those doubts and fears quickly disappeared after Moncada’s rehab assignments at Triple-A Charlotte.
On August 16, Moncada made his first rehab start. He started off slow getting only one hit in five at-bats. But he quickly found his swing. He would play four more games with the Knights finishing the five-game stint hitting .409, that is nine hits in 22 at-bats. He slugged two home runs and drove in six runs along with a double and scoring six times himself.
For the time Moncada was not in the lineup, Ryan Goins took over duties at third base.
Goins hit a slash of .240/.313/.280. He did a decent job getting on base walking seven times, but from his batting average and slugging percentage, the absence of Moncada’s bat was clear. The strikeout numbers were similar, however, being rung up 26 times in128 plate appearances.
At the end of July 2018, Moncada had 144 strikeouts which is 31 strikeouts more than the 113 strikeouts he has recorded this season before the end of July.
A 31 number difference is a vast improvement. At this point of the rebuild, the team does not need an MVP season out of Moncada, just a season showing signs of improvement and that is exactly what he is doing.
A momentary pause in a player’s season could affect the rest of their performance, but a momentary pause in a player’s breakout year could prove to be more damaging.
Fortunately, for Moncada, it seems he did not skip a beat. He may take a game or two to really get back into the swing of things, but considering his Triple-A performance, look to see him continue to tear things up.