This morning I wrote about the White Sox win over the division-rival Minnesota Twins on Saturday. I was hoping it would take a little longer, but that the final two paragraphs would come to fruition just a few hours later. While it wasn’t the lineup per se, it was his pitching alignment today.
“At the end of the day, the ire surrounding Renteria’s lineup construction is real, and it needs to be better over the long-term. There’s going to come a day when Ricky’s boys don’t absolve him with a barrage of home runs, a day where the kinks in his thinking cause the club to leave an intolerable amount of runners stranded on base, and that day will have consequences in a truncated 60-game season where every game counts.
Hell, the White Sox are using the “Every Game Counts,” slogan as a marketing piece on television, so their manager should act like it when he’s deploying his arsenal of talent each day before this conversation becomes a post-mortem conversation surrounding a talented team missing an expanded playoff field.”
At some point during Summer Camp, Renteria decided to line Reynaldo Lopez up to take on the Minnesota Twins on the first Sunday of the season. Yes, the same Reynaldo Lopez who posted a 9.60 ERA against the Twins in 2019, and a career 5.71 ERA against those same Twins.
Lo and behold, Lopez did not make it out of the first inning against the Twins — the White Sox biggest hurdle in a return to the postseason — being removed in favor of Gio Gonzalez after he hunched over in pain following his 38th pitch of the inning to Marwin Gonzalez.
After retiring Max Kepler and Josh Donaldson to open the first — both were hard hit outs — Lopez lost Twins’ three-hole hitter Jorge Polanco to extend the inning. Nelson Cruz smoked a double down the left-field line, and then Lopez walked Eddie Rosario to set the scene. Jake Cave delivered the big blow with a grand slam that put the Twins up 4-0 after two-thirds of an inning.
As Steve Stone talked about Lopez’s 2019 achilles heel, his non-existent fastball command, Lopez delivered a flurry of them out of the zone almost on cue. According to Baseball Savant, Lopez threw 12 fastballs of which two were called strikes, three were put in play, and seven missed the zone for a ball. Not one fastball garnered a swinging strike for Lopez.
The rest wasn’t any better. Seven of his 10 changeups were out of the zone, and all told Lopez earned four called strike and one swinging strike in 38 pitches.
Lopez was removed after grimacing, and his fastball Velo which had been 94-95 mph to open the frame, nearly 40 pitches later it was down to 90-91. We can only hope that Lopez is alright, but that’s never a good precursor to what lies ahead.
Injury or not, he shouldn’t have been on the mound today. It was an egregious miscalculation by a manager who’s spent his entire career overseeing teams that weren’t quite ready. Well, this team is ready, and there’s no room for mishaps like these.
And it doesn’t end with the awful decision to start Lopez against the Twins today, take a look at this lineup that the White Sox released this morning.
A lineup featuring seven right-handed hitters against Kenta Maeda. Kenta Maeda, who has a career opposing batting average against right-handed hitters with a 405-70 K-BB ratio during that span.
That’s asinine. So asinine that Renteria redacted his lineup shortly thereafter, adding a third left-handed hitter in Nicky Delmonico.
Then there’s Yoan Moncada. Ricky wanted to rest Moncada’s arm today. Those words were straight from the horse’s mouth, not mine. If you want to rest Moncada’s arm, why isn’t he DH-ing? Why isn’t Edwin Encarnacion playing first base, while Jose Abreu — who hit .257 against righties with 121 strikeouts in 2019 — takes the day off?
Do I have all the answers? Absolutely not. But, do I have the ability to see a blatantly obvious mistake when/before it happens? Yes. And I’m going to be mad about it when it costs the White Sox games before the first inning is even over, and you should be too.
You’ve poured your time and heart into this franchise. You bought into the rebuild, you still spent your time and hard-earned money on countless games, SoxFest experiences, and if you’re like me, a sizeable investment in a season ticket package of some sort. It’s perfectly fine to question the decisions being made.
As far as Rick Renteria and the rest of his staff go — the time for winning is now. The time for protecting veterans and favorites feelings with innings and at-bats in spots that they don’t warrant themselves being in is over.
Get it together before it’s too late, for the 2020 White Sox, and more particularly, you.
Feature Photo: Chicago Sun-Times