Imminent Arrival: Why Reynaldo Lopez Is Forcing The White Sox’ Hand

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

“He’s forcing the issue,” White Sox general manager Rick Hahn told reporters on Sunday. “He’s had several starts in a row that have been very impressive. Lucas Giolito, as well, has been impressive in his recent starts, and at some point here they’re likely going to force our hand to get them here to Chicago and give them the opportunity to show what they can do at the big league level.” – Courtesy of Dan Hayes, CSN Chicago 

To an extent it’s surprising that Lopez hasn’t already joined a big league rotation that owns a 5.11 ERA (third worst in MLB), 1.52 WHIP (third worst in MLB) and 435 K (second fewest in MLB, barely ahead of the Minnesota Twins).  The “talent” just isn’t there for the rebuilding team, as they continue to try to catch lightning in a bottle with underwhelming veteran starters.  Just look at some the ERA from July:

  • Mike Pelfrey – 6.87 (18.1 IP)
  • James Shields – 9.00 (25.0 IP)
  • Derek Holland – 9.38 (24.0 IP)

That doesn’t include Miguel Gonzalez, who actually pitched to a 2.33 ERA for the month but owns a 4.59 mark on the season.  They appear to simply be eating innings, as opposed to building towards some type of future.  You can argue that Lopez needs more time in the minors, but he has pitched in the Majors before and is already on the 40-man roster.

Yes his stint in the Majors last season was not good (4.91 ERA, 1.57 WHIP over 44.0 IP) and it’s possible that the team is monitoring his service time to make sure calling him up doesn’t cost them a future year of control.  That said, at some point you need to give him a shot.

Lopez has now allowed 2 ER or fewer in seven straight starts.  Over this stretch, spanning 41.2 innings, he owns a sparkling 2.18 ERA and 0.97 WHIP.  Not only that but he’s been racking up the strikeouts (54 K) while avoiding the free passes (11 BB).  Think it’s been luck based?  Maybe slightly, considering an 84.2% strand rate, but his .295 BABIP is a realistic number.

It would appear like he’s ready, with the one red flag being potential home run issues.  He has been getting a few more groundballs of late (0.96 GO/AO in July), but that will be something to watch closely.  It could cause a few bumps along the line, but it’s hardly a reason to think that success won’t be in his future.

Having thrown 153.1 inning last season there’s little concern about an innings limit cutting his season short (he’s at 116.0 right now).  Maybe he gets one more turn through the Triple-A rotation, but don’t be surprised to see him join Chicago by the middle of August and finish the year in the rotation.  Once he arrives he could easily produce as a Top 50-60 starter the rest of the way, combining strikeouts and control.

Sources – MLB.com, MILB.com, Fangraphs, CSN Chicago

Make sure to check out our Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects by clicking here!

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